CYRANO: They find their way at once? Small wonder that! For 'tis within my heart they find their home; Bethink how large my heart, how small your ear! And, — from fair heights descending, words fall fast, But mine must mount, Madame, and that takes time!
ROXANE: Meseems that your last words have learned to climb.
CYRANO: With practice such gymnastic grows less hard!
ROXANE: In truth, I seem to speak from distant heights!
CYRANO: True, far above; at such a height 'twere death If a hard word from you fell on my heart.
ROXANE (moving): I will come down . . .
CYRANO (hastily): No!
ROXANE (showing him the bench under the balcony): Mount then on the bench!
CYRANO (starting back alarmed): No!
ROXANE: How, you will not?
CYRANO (more and more moved): Stay awhile! 'Tis sweet, . . . The rare occasion, when our hearts can speak Our selves unseen, unseeing!
ROXANE: Why — unseen?
CYRANO: Ay, it is sweet! Half hidden, — half revealed — You see the dark folds of my shrouding cloak, And I, the glimmering whiteness of your dress: I but a shadow — you a radiance fair! Know you what such a moment holds for me? If ever I were eloquent . . .
ROXANE: You were!
CYRANO: Yet never till to-night my speech has sprung Straight from my heart as now it springs.
ROXANE: Why not?
CYRANO: Till now I spoke haphazard . . .
CYRANO: Your eyes Have beams that turn men dizzy! — But to-night Methinks I shall find speech for the first time!
ROXANE: 'Tis true, your voice rings with a tone that's new.
CYRANO (coming nearer, passionately): Ay, a new tone! In the tender, sheltering dusk I dare to be myself for once, — at last! (He stops, falters): What say I? I know not! — Oh, pardon me — It thrills me, — 'tis so sweet, so novel . . .
ROXANE: How? So novel?
CYRANO (off his balance, trying to find the thread of his sentence): Ay, — to be at last sincere; Till now, my chilled heart, fearing to be mocked . . .
ROXANE: Mocked, and for what?
CYRANO: For its mad beating! — Ay, My heart has clothed itself with witty words, To shroud itself from curious eyes: — impelled At times to aim at a star, I stay my hand, And, fearing ridicule, — cull a wild flower!
ROXANE: A wild flower's sweet.
CYRANO: Ay, but to-night — the star!
ROXANE: Oh! never have you spoken thus before!
CYRANO: If, leaving Cupid's arrows, quivers, torches, We turned to seek for sweeter — fresher things! Instead of sipping in a pygmy glass Dull fashionable waters, — did we try How the soul slakes its thirst in fearless draught By drinking from the river's flooding brim!
ROXANE: But wit? . . .
CYRANO: If I have used it to arrest you At the first starting, — now, 'twould be an outrage, An insult — to the perfumed Night — to Nature — To speak fine words that garnish vain love-letters! Look up but at her stars! The quiet Heaven Will ease our hearts of all things artificial; I fear lest, 'midst the alchemy we're skilled in The truth of sentiment dissolve and vanish, — The soul exhausted by these empty pastimes, The gain of fine things be the loss of all things!
ROXANE: But wit? I say . . .
CYRANO: In love 'tis crime, — 'tis hateful! Turning frank loving into subtle fencing! At last the moment comes, inevitable, — — Oh, woe for those who never know that moment! When feeling love exists in us, ennobling, Each well-weighed word is futile and soul-saddening!
ROXANE: Well, if that moment's come for us — suppose it! What words would serve you?
CYRANO: All, all, all, whatever That came to me, e'en as they came, I'd fling them In a wild cluster, not a careful bouquet. I love thee! I am mad! I love, I stifle! Thy name is in my heart as in a sheep-bell, And as I ever tremble, thinking of thee, Ever the bell shakes, ever thy name ringeth! All things of thine I mind, for I love all things; I know that last year on the twelfth of May-month, To walk abroad, one day you changed your hair-plaits! I am so used to take your hair for daylight That, — like as when the eye stares on the sun's disk, One sees long after a red blot on all things — So, when I quit thy beams, my dazzled vision Sees upon all things a blonde stain imprinted.