Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac Cunning and Cleverness Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
CYRANO (To those who are shouting and crowding about him) Pray you, be gentle with my scabbard here – She’ll put her tongue out at you presently! – (The circle enlarges.) (I. 241-242)
In keeping with his sophisticated wordplay, Cyrano threatens the crowd with his sword, but does so in somewhat subdued language. Instead of "drawing his sword," Cyrano says the scabbard will "put her tongue out at you," as if his insult is merely annoying, and not potentially harmful. The crowd, however, gets the message and backs off.
RAGUENEAU (Raises his head; returns to mere earth.) Over the coppers of my kitchen flows The frosted-silver dawn. Silence awhile The god who sings within thee, Ragueneau! Lay down the lute – the oven calls for thee! (Rises; goes to one of the cooks.) Here’s a hiatus in your sauce; fill up The measure. THE COOK How much? RAGUENEAU (Measures on his finger.) more dactyl. THE COOK Huh?... FIRST PASTRYCOOK Rolls! SECOND PASTRYCOOK Roulades! RAGUENEAU (Before the fireplace) Veil, O Muse, thy virgin eyes From the lewd gleam of these terrestrial fires! (To First Pastrycook) Your rolls lack balance. Here’s the proper form – An equal hemistich on either side, And the caesura in between. (To another, pointing out an unfinished pie) Your house Of crust should have a roof upon it. (To another, who is seated on the hearth, placing poultry on a spit) And you – Along the interminable spit, arrange The modest pullet and the lordly Turk Alternately, my son – as great Malherbe Alternates male and female rimes. Remember, A couplet, or a roast, should be well turned. (II. 3-19)
The clever and pretentious Ragueneau steeps his discussion with pastry cooks in the language of poetry. He uses terms referring to poetry’s meter to describe aspects of food; for example he uses "hiatus" to mean "not enough" when referring to the sauce, and "dactyl" to measure the amount the cook needs to fill something up. A dactyl is a metrical term, based off the Greek word meaning "finger," referring a metrical foot consisting of one long (or accented) syllable followed by two short (or unaccented) syllables. Other examples include Ragueneau’s use of "hemistich," "caesura," and "male and female rimes." He ends his clever speech with a phrase that could apply to either to roasted fowl or a good poem – "well turned."
ROXANE Now tell me things. CHRISTIAN (After a silence) I love you. ROXANE (Closes her eyes.) Yes, Speak to me about love… CHRISTIAN I love you. Roxane: Now Be eloquent!... CHRISTIAN I love – […] CHRISTIAN I love – ROXANE I know; you love me. Adieu. (She goes to the house.) CHRISTIAN No, But wait – please – let me – I was going to say – ROXANE (Pushes the door open.) That you adore me. Yes; I know that too. No!...Go away!... (She goes in and shuts the door in his face.) CHRISTIAN I…I… (III. 175-194)
Christian is as impeded by his ineloquence as Cyrano is by his nose.