Cyrano de Bergerac
Art and Culture Quotes Page 5
How we cite our quotes:
The Post occupied by the Company of Carbon de Castel-Jaloux at the Siege of
Arras. (IV. stage directions)
Again, Rostand gets his facts correct. The historical Cyrano really did fight at the siege of Arras in 1640.
DE GUICHE (To the Cadets)
I can afford
Your little hates. My conduct under fire
Is well known. It was only yesterday
I drove the Count de Bucquoi from Bapaume,
Pouring my men down like an avalanche,
I myself led the charge –
CYRANO (Without looking up from his book.)
And your white scarf?
DE GUICHE (Surprised and gratified)
You heard that episode? Yes – rallying
My men for the third time, I found myself
Carried among a crowd of fugitives
Into the enemy’s lines. I was in danger
Of being shot or captured; but I thought
Quickly – took off and flung away the scarf
That marked my military rank – and so
Being inconspicuous, escaped among
My own force, rallied them, returned again
And won the day!... (IV. 139-154)
This episode about Comte de Guiche’s white scarf is a true story and his victory earned him fame throughout the French army. Rostand, however, twists it so that de Guiche’s act can be read as cowardly – as Cyrano interprets it.
Did you come through?
Why, through the Spanish lines
THE FIRST CADET
They let you pass? –
What did you say?
How did you manage?
Yes, that must have been
No – I simply drove along.
Now and then some hidalgo scowled at me
And I smiled back – my best smile; whereupon,
The Spaniards being (without prejudice
To the French) the most polished gentleman
In the world – I passed!
Certainly that smile
Should be a passport? Did they never ask
Your errand or your destination?
Frequently! Then I drooped my eyes and said:
"I have a lover…" Whereupon, the Spaniard
With an air of ferocious dignity
Would close the carriage door – with such a gesture
As any king might envy, wave aside
The muskets that were leveled at my breast,
Fall back three paces, equally superb
In grace and gloom, draw himself up, thrust forth
A spur under his cloak, sweeping the air
With his long plumes, bow very low, and say:
"Pass, Senorita!" (IV. 250-272)
The Spaniards’ gallant attitude towards Roxane is in keeping with the chivalrous spirit of medieval romances. Thus, it seems that the French drew from such chivalrous works to enrich their own literature. Depicting the Spaniards in such a favorable light is also in Rostand’s favor, since he was himself one-quarter Spanish and admired Spain all his life.