Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
A CUT-PURSE (Gathers around him several evil-looking young fellows)Now then, you picaroons, Perk up, and hear me mutter. Here’s your bout – Bustle around some cull, and bite his bung. (I. 23-25)
The cut-purses, like gangs of thieves today, have their own jargon, their own way of speaking that is enigmatic to the layman. Because men are defined by their speech in this play, the cut-purse is set apart by his words from the gentlemen around him.
CYRANO (Closes his eyes for an instant.) Stop…Let me choose my rimes…Now! Here we go – (He suits the action to the word, throughout the following:) Lightly I toss my hat away, Languidly over my arm let fall The cloak that covers my bright array – Then out swords, and to work withal! A Launcelot in his Lady’s hall… A Spartacus, at the Hippodrome!... I dally awhile with you, dear jackal, Then, as I end the refrain, thrust home! (The swords cross – the fight is on.) Where shall I skewer my peacock?...Nay, Better for you to have shunned this brawl! – Here, in the heart, thro’ your ribbons gay? - In the belly, under your silken shawl? Hark, how the steel rings musical! Mark how my point floats, light as the foam, Ready to drive you back to the wall, Then, as I end the refrain, thrust home! Ho, for a rime!..You are white as whey – You break, you cower, you cringe, you…crawl! Tac! – and I parry your last essay: So may the turn of a hand forestall Life with its honey, death with its gall; So may the turn of my fancy roam Free, for a time, till the rimes recall, Then, as I end the refrain, thrust home! (He announces solemnly.) Refrain: Prince! Pray God, that is Lord of all, Pardon your soul, for your time has come! Beat – pass – fling you aslant, asprawl - Then, as I end the refrain… (He lunges; Valvert staggers back and falls into the arms of his friends. Cyrano recovers, and salutes.) Thrust home! (I. 456-484)
Cyrano’s brilliant improvisation fits the structure of a ballade – an impressive feat indeed.
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.) One 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)
Ragueneau’s wordplay, punning between poetical terms and cooking ones, makes him one of the funniest and most pretentious characters in the play.