The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Romancers, by Edmond Rostand
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Title: The Romancers A Comedy in Three Acts
Author: Edmond Rostand
Translator: Barrett H. Clark
Release Date: January 23, 2006 [EBook #17581] [Date last updated: January 11, 2009]
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE ROMANCERS ***
Produced by Kent Cooper
Comedy in Three Acts
Translated by Barrett H. Clark 1915
[[ Untitled INTRODUCTORY NOTES from 1915 publication by
Samuel French: Publisher, New York:
Edmond Rostand was born at Marseilles in 1868. Rostand is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant dramatic poets of modern times. "Les Romanesques"—"The Romancers"—was performed for the first time in Paris, at the Comedie Francaise, in 1894, and achieved considerable success. Its delicacy and charm revealed the true poet, and the deftness with which the plot was handled left little doubt as to the author's ability to construct an interesting and moving drama. But not until the production of "Cyrano de Bergerac" in 1897 did Rostand become known to the world at large. "L'Aiglon" (1900) was something of a disappointment after the brilliant "Cyrano." Ten years later came "Chantecler," the poet's deepest and in many ways most masterly play.
"The Romancers" is best played in the romantic atmosphere of the late Eighteenth century; the costumes should be Louis XVI. The stage-directions are sufficiently detailed. ]]
* * * * *
[Transcriber's note: "The Romancers" is the basis for the plot of the 1960 musical "The Fantasticks," with music by Harvey Schmidt, book and lyrics by Tom Jones.]
* * * * *
Persons in the Play
BERGAMIN (Percinet's father)
PASQUINOT (Sylvette's father)
BLAISE (A gardener)
A WALL (Not a speaking part)
Swordsmen, musicians, negroes, torch-bearers, a notary, four
witnesses, and other supernumeraries.
The action takes place anywhere, provided the costumes are pretty.
* * * * *
SCENE: The stage is divided by an old wall, covered with vines and flowers. At the right, a corner of BERGAMIN's private park; at the left, a corner of PASQUINOT's. On each side of the wall, and against it, is a rustic bench. As the curtain rises, PERCINET is seated on the top of the wall. On his knee is a book, out of which he is reading to SYLVETTE, who stands attentively listening on the bench which is on the other side of the wall.
SYLVETTE. Monsieur Percinet, how divinely beautiful!
PERCINET. Is it not? Listen to what Romeo answers: [Reading]
"It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops:
I must be gone"—
SYLVETTE. [Interrupts him, as she listens.] Sh!
PERCINET. [Listens a moment, then] No one! And, Mademoiselle, you must not take fright like a startled bird. Hear the immortal lovers:
"Juliet. Yon light is not the daylight, I know it, I,
It is some meteor that the sun exhales,
To be to thee this night a torch-bearer,
And light thee on thy way to Mantua:
Therefore stay yet, thou need'st not to be gone.
Romeo. Let me be ta'en, let me be put to death;
I am content, so thou will have it so.
I'll say, yon gray is not the morning's eye,
'Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia's brow;
Nor that is not the lark, whose notes do beat
The vaulty heaven so high above our heads:
I have more care to stay than will to go:
Come, death and welcome"—
SYLVETTE. No, he must not say such things, or I shall cry.
PERCINET. Then let us stop and read no further until to-morrow.
We shall let Romeo live! [He closes the book and looks about him.]
This charming spot seems expressly made, it seems to me, to
cradle the words of the Divine Will!
SYLVETTE. The verses are divine, and the soft air here is a divine accompaniment. And see, these green shades! But, Monsieur Percinet, what makes them divine to me is the way you read!
SYLVETTE. [Sighing] Poor lovers! Their fate was cruel!
[Another sigh] I think—
PERCINET. Something that made you blush red as a rose.
SYLVETTE. Nothing, I say.
PERCINET. Ah, that's too transparent. I see it all: you are thinking of our fathers!
PERCINET. Of their terrible hatred for each other.
SYLVETTE. The thought often pains me and makes me cry when I am alone. Last month, when I came home from the convent, my father pointed out your father's park, and said to me: "My dear child, you behold there the domain of my mortal enemy, Bergamin. Never cross the path of those two rascals, Bergamin and his son Percinet. Mark well my words, and obey me to the letter, or I shall cast you off as an enemy. Their family has always been at bitter enmity with our own." And I promised. But you see how I keep my word!
PERCINET. Did I not promise my father to do the same, Sylvette?
Yet I love you!
SYLVETTE. Holy saints!
PERCINET. I love you, my dearest!
SYLVETTE. It's sinful!
PERCINET. Very—but what can we do? The greater the obstacles to be overcome, the sweeter the reward. Sylvette, kiss me!
SYLVETTE. Never! [She jumps down from the bench and runs off a few steps.]
PERCINET. But you love me?
PERCINET. My dear child: I, too, sometimes think of us and compare you and me with those other lovers—of Verona.
SYLVETTE. But I didn't compare—!
PERCINET. You and I are Juliet and Romeo; I love you to despair, and I shall brave the wrath of Pasquinot-Capulet and Bergamin-Montague!
SYLVETTE. [Coming a little nearer to the wall] Then we love?
But how, Monsieur Percinet, has it happened so soon?
PERCINET. Love is born we know not how, because it must be born.
I often saw you pass my window—
SYLVETTE. I saw you, too!
PERCINET. And our eyes spoke in silence.
SYLVETTE. One day I was gathering nuts in the garden by the wall—
PERCINET. One day I