In an uncharacteristic display of sentimentality in honor of Valentine's Day, a "holiday" I denounce at every opportunity, I'm transcribing my favorite scene from my favorite romantic play ever. The bizarre thing about me is: no matter how much I rail against love, men, relationships, and all that jazz...I own a million romantic movies and adore a good tragic love story. Maybe it's one of those things I just want to read about and watch movies about but don't really care to do again...I wonder, do ex-convicts like to watch prison movies?
Regardless of my reasons, I adore this play and the Jose Ferrar movie made of it. And this is my all time favorite scene, the most romantic words I've ever read, the scene that makes my still heart quiver and my cold eyes tear up every time. Hope you like it.
Beautiful Christian loves clever Roxane. Cyrano, with a very big nose, loves Roxane. Roxane treats Cyrano like a brother and confesses to him her feelings for Christian, based only on his beauty. Christian is a good soldier, but not that quick with words. Cyrano writes a beautiful letter expressing his love for Roxane, but gives it to Christian to send. Cyrano gives Christian words to say to Roxane and he memorizes them. Roxane, completely under a Cyrano-induced Christian spell, falls completely in love.
Christian, feeling guilty and believing he can do his own romancing, goes to Roxane on his own, with none of Cyrano's words to help him. He fails miserably, all observed by Cyrano. Roxane is on her balcony and Christian calls to her, Cyrano feeding him words from behind a tree. But it becomes too cumbersome and Cyrano takes over. That's where this starts.
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, Translation by Brian Hooker
Your words to-night
(In a low tone, imitating CHRISTIAN)
Through the warm summer gloom
They grope in darkness toward the light of you.
My words, well aimed, find you more readily.
My heart is open wide and waits for them--
Too large a mark to miss! My words fly home,
Heavy with honey like returning bees,
To your small secret ear. Moreover--yours
Fall to me swiftly. Mine more slowly rise.
Yet not so slowly as they did at first.
They have learned the way, and you have welcomed them.
Am I so far above you now?
If you let fall upon me one hard word,
Out of that height--you crush me!
I'll come down--
(Points out the bench under the balcony.)
Stand you on the bench. Come nearer!
(Recoils into the shadow.)
And why so great a No?
(More and more overcome by emotion.)
Let me enjoy
The one moment I ever--my one chance
To speak to you...unseen!
Night, making all things dimly beautiful,
One veil over us both--You only see
The darkness of a long cloak in the gloom,
And I the whiteness of a summer gown--
You are all light--I am all shadow!...How
Can you know what this moment means to me?
If I was ever eloquent--
--You have never heard till now
My own heart speaking!
I spoke through...
--through that sweet drunkenness
You pour into the world out of your eyes!
But to-night...but to-night, I indeed speak
For the first time!
For the first time--Your voice,
Even, is not the same
(Passionately; moves nearer.)
How should it be?
I have another voice--my own,
(He stops, confused; then tries to recover himself.)
Where was I?...I forget!...
Forgive me. This is all sweet like a dream...
Strange--like a dream...
Is it not so
To be myself to you, and have no fear
Of moving you to laughter?
(Struggling for an explanation)
Because...What am I...What is any man,
That he dare ask for you? Therefore my heart
Hides behind phrases. There's a modesty
In these things too--I come here to pluck down
Out of the sky the evening star--then smile,
And stoop to gather little flowers.
Not sweet, those little flowers?
Not enough sweet
For you and me, to-night!
You never spoke
To me like this...
Little things, pretty things--
Arrows and hearts and torches--roses red,
And violets blue--are these all? Come away,
And breathe fresh air! Must we keep on and on
Sipping stale honey out of tiny cups
Decorated with golden tracery,
Drop by drop, all day long? We are alive;
We thirst--Come away, plunge, and drink, and drown
In the great river flowing to the sea!
I have made rimes for you--
Not now--Shall we insult Nature, this night,
These flowers, this moment--shall we set all these
To phrases from a letter by Voiture?
Look once at the high stars that shine in heaven,
And put off artificiality!
Have you not seen great gaudy hothouse flowers,
Barren, without fragrance?--Souls are like that:
Forced to show all, they soon become all show--
The means to Nature's end ends meaningless!
Love hates that game of words!
It is a crime to fence with life--I tell you,
There comes one moment, once--and god help those
Who pass that moment by!--when Beauty stands
Looking into the soul with grave, sweet eyes
That sicken at pretty words!
If that be true--
And when that moment comes to you and me--
What words will you?...
All those, all those, all those
That blossom in my heart, I'll fling to you--
Armfuls of loose bloom! Love, I love beyond
Breath, beyond reason, beyond love's own power
Of loving! Your name is like a golden bell
Hung in my heart; and when I think of you,
I tremble, and the bell swings and rings--
"Roxane!"...along my veins, "Roxane!"...
All small forgotten things that once meant You--
I remember last year, the First of May,
A little before noon, you had your hair
Drawn low, that one time only. Is that strange?
You know how, after looking at the sun,
One sees red suns everywhere--so, for hours
After the flood of sunshine that you are,
My eyes are blinded by your burning hair!
Yes, that is Love--that wind
Of terrible and jealous beauty, blowing
Over me--that dark fire, that music...
Love seeketh not his own! Dear, you may take
My happiness to make you happier,
Even though you never know I gave it you--
Only let me hear sometimes, all along,
The distant laughter of your joy!...
Look at you, but there's some new virtue born
In me, some new courage. Do you begin
To understand, a little? Can you feel
My soul, there in the darkness, breathe on you?
--Oh, but to-night, now, I dare say these things--
I...to you...and you hear them!...It is too much!
In my most sweet unreasonable dreams,
I have not hoped for this! Now let me die,
Having lived. It is my voice, mine, my own,
That makes you tremble there in the green gloom
Above me--for you do tremble, as a blossom
Among the leaves--You tremble, and I can feel,
All the way down along these jasmine branches,
Whether you will or no, the passion of you
(He kisses wildly the end of a drooping spray of jasmine.)
Yes, I do tremble...and I weep...
And I love you...and I am yours...and you
Have made me thus!
(After a pause; quietly)
What is death like, I wonder?
I know everything else now...
I have done
This, to you--I, myself...
Only let me
Ask one thing more--
(Under the balcony)
You ask me
I...Yes, but--I mean--
You go too far!
She is willing!--Why not make the most of it?
I did ask...but I know I ask too much...
Only one--Is that all?
All!--How much more
Than all!--I know--I frighten you--I ask...
I ask you to refuse--
But why? Why? Why?
Christian, be quiet!
What is that you say
I am angry with myself
Because I go too far, and so I say
To myself: "Christian, be quiet!"--
Then someone comes, interrupting. Roxane goes inside and Christian and Cyrano confer.
Win me that kiss!
Sooner or later--
That is true...Soon or late, it will be so
Because you are young and she is beautiful--
Since it must be, I had rather be myself
(The window re-opens. CHRISTIAN hides under the balcony.)
The cause of...what must be.
(Out on the balcony)
Are you still there?
We were speaking of--
A kiss. The word is sweet--
What will the deed be? Are your lips afraid
Even of its burning name? Not much afraid--
Not too much! Have you not unwittingly
Laid aside laughter, slipping beyond speech
Insensibly, already, without fear,
From words to smiles...from smiles to sighs...from
Even to tears? One step more--only one--
From a tear to a kiss--one step, one thrill!
And what is a kiss, when all is done?
A promise given under seal--a vow
Taken before the shrine of memory--
A signature acknowledged--a rosy dot
Over the i of Loving--a secret whispered
To listening lips apart--a moment made
Immortal, with a rush or wings unseen--
A sacrament of blossoms, a new song
Sung by two hearts to an old simple tune--
The ring of one horizon around two souls
Together, all alone!
Why, what shame?--
There was a Queen of France, not long ago,
And a great lord of England--a queen's gift,
A crown jewel!
Indeed, like him,
I have my sorrows and my silences;
Like her, you are the queen I dare adore;
Like him I am faithful and forlorn--
So I am--I forgot that!
Then--Come;...Gather your sacred blossom...
Your crown jewel...
Your old new song...
No--Would you?--not yet--
Your moment made
Climb up, animal!
(CHRISTIAN springs on the bench, and climbs by the pillars, the branches, the vines, until he bestrides the balcony railing.)
(He takes her in his arms and bends over her.)
I have won what I have won--
The feast of love--and I am Lazarus!
Yet...I have something here that is mine now
And was not mine before I spoke the words
That won her--not for me!...Kissing my words
My words, upon your lips!
Sigh. That ought to feed whatever romantics still bother to read my musings. I won't say happy Valentine's day, but I will say happy Friday and may you get whatever it is you want from this particular day.