Excerpt from "Cyrano de Bergerac", the play by Edmond Rostand

Cyrano's Monologue describing his own nose

THE VISCOUNT: No one? But wait! I'll treat him to. . .one of my quips!. . .
See here!. . . (He goes up to Cyrano, who is watching him, and with a conceited air): Sir, your nose is. . .hmm. . .it is. . .very big! 

CYRANO (gravely): Very! 

THE VISCOUNT (laughing): Ha! 

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

THE VISCOUNT: What do you mean? 

CYRANO: Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short! 
You might have said at least a hundred things 
By varying the tone. . .like 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 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 tobacco-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 just such a solid lump 
Of flesh and bone, beneath his forehead's bump!' 
Cavalier: 'The last 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 its 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, and of letters 
You have three letters only!--they spell Ass! 
And--had you had the necessary wit, 
To serve me all the pleasantries I quote 
Before this noble audience. . .e'en so, 
You would not have been let to utter one-- 
Nay, not the half or quarter of such jest! 
I take them from myself all in good part, 
But not from any other man that breathes! 

DE GUICHE (trying to draw away the dismayed viscount): 
Come away, Viscount!

THE VISCOUNT (choking with rage): Hear his arrogance! 
A country lout who. . .who. . .has got no gloves! 
Who goes out without sleeve-knots, ribbons, lace! 

CYRANO: True; all my elegances are within. 
I do not prank myself out, puppy-like; 
My toilet is more thorough, if less gay; 
I would not sally forth--a half-washed-out 
Affront upon my cheek--a conscience 
Yellow-eyed, bilious, from its sodden sleep, 
A ruffled honor,. . .scruples grimed and dull! 
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 a clash of spurs!

 

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