Sunday, September 22, 2013

Favorite Quotes from Cyrano de Bergerac

As promised, here's a post containing some of my favorite quotes from Cyrano de Bergerac. Many of them are too long to post, however, and I took out the ones that have spoilers. (As a disclaimer, I used a translation by Gladys Thomas and Mary. F. Guillemard. I hear that the Hooker translation is the best, but this was the one free on Kindle.)

Oh! [My nose] disgusts you!


Its hue
Unwholesome seems to you?


Or its shape?

No, on the contrary!...

Why then that air
Disparaging?—perchance you think it large?

THE BORE (stammering)
No, small, quite small—minute!

Minute! What now?
Accuse me of a thing ridiculous!
Small—my nose!...
'Tis enormous!
Old Flathead, empty-headed meddler, know
That I am proud possessing such appendice.
'Tis well known, a big nose is indicative
Of a soul affable, and kind, and courteous,
Liberal, brave, just like myself, and such
As you can never dare to dream yourself
Rascal contemptible!

Sir, your nose is...very big!

CYRANO (gravely):

THE VISCOUNT (laughing):

CYRANO (imperturbably):
Is that all?...

What do you mean?

Ah no! Young blade! That was a trifle short!
You might have said at least a hundred things
By varying the this, suppose...
Aggressive: Sir, if I had such a nose
I'd amputate it! Friendly: When you sup
It must annoy you, dipping in your cup;
You'd need a drinking-bowl of special shape!
Descriptive: 'Tis a rock!...a peak!...a cape!
—A cape, forsooth! 'Tis a peninsular!
Curious: How serves that oblong capsular?
For scissor-sheath? Or pot to hold your ink?
Gracious: You love the little birds, I think?
I see you've managed with a fond research
To find their tiny claws a roomy perch!
Truculent: When you smoke your pipe, suppose
That the tobbaco-smoke spouts from your nose—
Do not the neighbors, as the fumes rise higher,
Cry terror struck: “The chimney is afire”?
Considerate: Take care...your head bowed low
By such a weight...lest head o'er heels you go!
Tender: Pray get a small umbrella made,
Lest its bright color in the sun should fade!
Pedantic: That beast Aristophanes
Names Hippocamelelephantoles
Must have possessed such a solid lump
Of flesh and bone, beneath his forehead's bump!
Cavalier: The latest fashion, friend, that hook?
To hang your hat on? 'Tis a useful crook!
Emphatic: No wind, O majestic nose,
Can give THEE cold!—save when the mistral blows!
Dramatic: When it bleeds, what a Red Sea!
Admiring: Sign for a perfumery!
Lyric: Is this a conch!...a Triton you?
Simple: When is the monument on view?
Rustic: That thing a nose! Marry-come-up!
'Tis a dwarf pumpkin, or a prize turnip!
Military: Point against cavalry!
Practical: Put it in a lottery!
Assuredly 'twould be the biggest prize!
Or...parodying Pyramus' sighs...
Behold the nose that mars the harmony
Of it's master's phiz! blushing its treachery!
—Such, my dear sir, is what you might have said,
Had you of wit or letters the least jot:
But, O most lamentable man!—of wit
You never had an atom.

Hear his arrogance!
A country lout who...who...has got no gloves!
Who goes out without sleeve-knots, ribbons, lace!

True; all my elegances are within
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!

I in a labyrinth
Was lost—too many different paths to choose;
I took...


Oh! by far the simplest path...
Decided to be admirable in all!

A hundred men? You'll sleep in your own bed!

A hundred!....

Less, to-night—would be too few!

If I lay but my soul by my letter-sheet, 'tis naught to do but to copy from it.

CYRANO (shouting to the Gascons):
Gascons! Ho, Gascons! Never turn your backs!
(to Carbon, whom he is supporting):
Have no fear! I have two deaths to avenge:
My friend who's slain;—and my dead happiness!
Float there! laced kerchief broidered with her name!


Sarah said...

I think Cyrano's response to the Viscount is my favorite of these. It seems that the version I read was abridged; I wish they hadn't shortened that particular part.

Anonymous said...

His quote on how to describe his nose really ought to be framed!

Rayne Speryll said...

I need to read this. I've wanted to for a long time. I'll have to see if my library has it next time I go. :D

By the way, I've nominated you for the Liebster Award!

Anonymous said...

Hello again!!! Popped in to see if you were doing NaNo and saw this post. Instantly, I was like, "WHAAAAAT?!?!?!?!" I can count on one finger the people I know who like Cyrano. You, sir, are awesome.