January 23, 2009

A morning with Cyrano

I went to the theater this morning with a bunch of my 16/17 year old students to watch the famous play by Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, in French, its original language. It was well performed by a French professional theater company, and most students seemed to have enjoyed the experience. As for myself, my school French turned out to be very poor, but I had no problem with the below quoted and sublime passage ...

Un baiser, mais à tout prendre, qu’est-ce ?
Un serment fait d’un peu plus près, une promesse
plus précise, un aveu qui veut se confirmer,
un point rose qu’on met sur l’i du verbe aimer;
c’est un secret qui prend la bouche pour oreille,
un instant d’infini qui fait un bruit d’abeille,
une communion ayant un goût de fleur,
une façon d’un peu se respirer le coeur,
et d’un peu se goûter, au bord des lèvres, l’âme !

A kiss, when all is said,—what is it?
An oath that's ratified,—a sealed promise,
A heart’s avowal claiming confirmation,—
A rose-dot on the ‘I’ of ‘adoration,’—
A secret that to mouth, not ear, is whispered,—
Brush of a bee’s wing, that makes time eternal,—
Communion perfumed like the spring’s wild flowers,—
The heart’s relieving in the heart’s outbreathing,
When to the lips the soul’s flood rises, brimming!

Act III, Scene ix


  1. What a treat it must have been! My most favorite play of all time, that I have read dozens of times over the years, and only seen performed on film. I'm envious that you could see such a masterpiece on stage!

  2. But Gerard Depardieu is incomparable in the role of Cyrano ...