Cyrano de Bergerac By Edmond Rostand Act I — Scene 4

DE GUICHE (trying to draw away the dismayed viscount): Come away, Viscount!

THE VISCOUNT (choking with rage): Hear his arrogance! A country lout who . . . who . . . has got no gloves! Who goes out without sleeve-knots, ribbons, lace!

CYRANO: True; all my elegances are within. I do not prank myself out, puppy-like; My toilet is more thorough, if less gay; I would not sally forth — a half-washed-out Affront upon my cheek — a conscience Yellow-eyed, bilious, from its sodden sleep, A ruffled honor, . . . scruples grimed and dull! I show no bravery of shining gems. Truth, Independence, are my fluttering plumes. 'Tis not my form I lace to make me slim, But brace my soul with efforts as with stays, Covered with exploits, not with ribbon-knots, My spirit bristling high like your mustaches, I, traversing the crowds and chattering groups Make Truth ring bravely out like clash of spurs!

THE VISCOUNT: But, Sir . . .

CYRANO: I wear no gloves? And what of that? I had one, . . . remnant of an old worn pair, And, knowing not what else to do with it, I threw it in the face of . . . some young fool.

THE VISCOUNT: Base scoundrel! Rascally flat-footed lout!

CYRANO (taking off his hat, and bowing as if the viscount had introduced himself): Ah? . . . and I, Cyrano Savinien Hercule de Bergerac


THE VISCOUNT (angrily): Buffoon!

CYRANO (calling out as if he had been seized with the cramp): Aie! Aie!

THE VISCOUNT (who was going away, turns back): What on earth is the fellow saying now?

CYRANO (with grimaces of pain): It must be moved — it's getting stiff, I vow, — This comes of leaving it in idleness! Aie! . . .

THE VISCOUNT: What ails you?

CYRANO: The cramp! cramp in my sword!

THE VISCOUNT (drawing his sword): Good!

CYRANO: You shall feel a charming little stroke!

THE VISCOUNT (contemptuously): Poet! . . .

CYRANO: Ay, poet, Sir! In proof of which, While we fence, presto! all extempore I will compose a ballade.

THE VISCOUNT: A ballade?

CYRANO: Belike you know not what a ballade is.


CYRANO (reciting, as if repeating a lesson): Know then that the ballade should contain Three eight-versed couplets . . .

THE VISCOUNT (stamping): Oh!

CYRANO (still reciting): And an envoi Of four lines . . .


CYRANO: I'll make one while we fight; And touch you at the final line.


CYRANO: No? (declaiming): The duel in Hotel of Burgundy — fought By De Bergerac and a good-for-naught!

THE VISCOUNT: What may that be, an if you please?

CYRANO: The title.

THE HOUSE (in great excitement): Give room! — Good sport! — Make place! — Fair play! — No noise!

(Tableau. A circle of curious spectators in the pit; the marquises and officers mingled with the common people; the pages climbing on each other's shoulders to see better. All the women standing up in the boxes. To the right, De Guiche and his retinue. Left, Le Bret, Ragueneau, Cyrano, etc.)

CYRANO (shutting his eyes for a second): Wait while I choose my rhymes . . . I have them now! (He suits the action to each word): I gayly doff my beaver low, And, freeing hand and heel, My heavy mantle off I throw, And I draw my polished steel; Graceful as Phoebus, round I wheel, Alert as Scaramouch, A word in your ear, Sir Spark, I steal — At the envoi's end, I touch! (They engage): Better for you had you lain low; Where skewer my cock? In the heel? — In the heart, your ribbon blue below? — In the hip, and make you kneel? Ho for the music of clashing steel! — What now? — A hit? Not much! 'Twill be in the paunch the stroke I steal, When, at the envoi, I touch.

Oh, for a rhyme, a rhyme in o? — You wriggle, starch-white, my eel? A rhyme! a rhyme! The white feather you SHOW! Tac! I parry the point of your steel; — The point you hoped to make me feel; I open the line, now clutch Your spit, Sir Scullion — slow your zeal! At the envoi's end, I touch. (He declaims solemnly): Envoi. Prince, pray Heaven for your soul's weal! I move a pace — lo, such! and such! Cut over — feint! (Thrusting): What ho! You reel? (The viscount staggers. Cyrano salutes): At the envoi's end, I touch!

(Acclamations. Applause in the boxes. Flowers and handkerchiefs are thrown down. The officers surround Cyrano, congratulating him. Ragueneau dances for joy. Le Bret is happy, but anxious. The viscount's friends hold him up and bear him away.)

THE CROWD (with one long shout): Ah!

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As Cyrano writes a love letter to Roxane, he does not sign it because