Pierre Corneille

Le Cid

Act II

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2007 All Rights Reserved

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Act II Scene I (Don Arias, The Count)

Count Between us, I admit my anger was too harsh,

Stirred by a word, I carried things too far;

Yet the deed is done, there’s no remedy.

Arias Bend your pride to the king’s authority:

He takes an interest, and his irritation

Will be displayed in no uncertain fashion.

Nor do you have a viable defence.

The man’s rank, the magnitude of the offence,

Demand your concession and submission,

Beyond the customary reparation.

Count The King may dispose of my life, as he will.

Arias You are possessed by too much anger, still.

The King loves you yet: witness his dismay.

He has said: ‘I wish it.’ Will you disobey?

Count Sir, to defend all that I hold sublime,

Such minor disobedience is no crime;

However great it seems, you will allow

My service is such as to efface it now.

Arias However great you are, you must accept

That a king owes nothing to his subject.

You deceive yourself, for you must know

Who serves his King but does his duty so.

You will lose, sir, by your false confidence.

Count I will test your views by my experience.

Arias You should dread the power of the King.

Count One error cannot render me as nothing.

Let all his grandeur seek my punishment,

If I meet ruin, the State’s is imminent.

Arias What! You fear the sovereign power so little…

Count Of a sceptre which would be but metal

Without me: he values my great renown,

My head in falling would dislodge his crown.

Arias Allow your feelings to respond to reason.

Listen to good advice.

Count I adopt my own.

Arias What shall I tell him? I must bring him word.

Count That I reject all shame, as you have heard.

Arias Yet know that royal power is absolute.

Count The die is cast, sir, I am resolute.

Arias Adieu, since my effort here appears in vain.

For all your laurels, fear the god’s disdain.

Count I wait here without dread.

Arias He will take action.

Count Then Don Diegue will have satisfaction.

(Exit Don Arias)

I have no fear of death, or harassment.

My courage is above all punishment;

I can be forced by other men to suffer,

But not to live a life devoid of honour.

Act II Scene II (The Count, Don Rodrigue)

Rodrigue A word with you, Count.

Count Speak.

Rodrigue Relieve my doubts.

You know of Don Diegue?

Count Yes.

Rodrigue Listen, now.

Do you know my father was the virtue,

The valour of his age, the power too?

Count Perhaps.

Rodrigue The ardour in my gaze you see,

Is of his blood, that too?

Count What’s that to me?

Rodrigue Take four paces from here, and you will know.

Count Presumptuous youth!

Rodrigue Ah, have no fear, though.

Young I may be; but in the noble heart

Valour’s no need of years, a thing apart.

Count Against me, you’d measure your mettle,

You who have never even seen a battle?

Rodrigue We never need testing twice, men like me,

Our trial strokes are masterstrokes, you see.

Count Do you know who I am?

Rodrigue Yes; another

At the mere sound of your name might quiver.

The laurels with which your head is wreathed

Might seem to give warning of my defeat.

I attack an arm that was made to conquer,

But given courage, I will find the power.

To vengeance, nothing proves impossible.

Your arm’s unconquered, not invincible.

Count That courage which shines out in your speech

And your eyes, each day, my eyes did reach;

Believing in you I saw Castile’s honour,

My soul destined you for my daughter.

I know your love, and am pleased to see

All its force yield to the force of duty.

It has not weakened your noble ardour;

And your great virtue inspires my favour;

Wishing a perfect warrior for my son,

I made no error in thus choosing one.

But now my pity is involved, in truth,

I admire your courage, but regret your youth.

Do not attempt this fateful trial;

Spare my courage an unequal battle:

There is no honour for me in victory:

The lack of risk will deny me glory.

Men will know I conquered easily;

And only my regret would be left me.

Rodrigue Your boldness is followed by ignoble pity:

You’ll steal my honour yet fear to kill me!

Count Withdraw from here.

Rodrigue Come then, without speaking.

Count So tired of life?

Rodrigue So afraid of dying?

Count Well, do your duty, the son proves lesser

Who seeks to outlast his father’s honour.

Act II Scene III (The Infanta, Chimene, Leonor)

Infanta Be calm, Chimene, calm your mind’s disturbance,

Be steadfast in the face of this mischance,

You’ll find fresh peace after this brief storm,

Over your joy light cloud has merely formed,

You will lose naught if joy must be deferred.

Chimene My troubled mind dares hope for nothing there.

So swift a tempest stirring a calm sea

Threatens to bring on sure catastrophe:

I doubt it not, I perish in the harbour.

I loved, was loved, agreed were both our fathers;

I was telling you the delightful news

At the sad moment when they quarrelled too,

Which fatal telling, as soon as it was done,

Ruined all hope of its consummation.

Cursed ambition, detestable obsession

Whose tyranny sways the noblest of men!

Honour inimical to my dear prize,

You’ll cost me yet a world of tears and sighs!

Infanta In their quarrel you’ve naught to brood upon:

Born in a moment: in a moment gone.

It has caused too much stir to be allowed,

And already the King its end has vowed;

You know my soul, sensitive to your pain,

Will work to quench it at its source again.

Chimene Vows and accommodations will do nothing:

Such mortal insults are unforgiving.

Force and prudence are invoked in vain;

The illness that seems cured appears again.

The hatred upon which the heart’s intent,

Nourishes fires, hidden, yet more ardent.

Infanta The sacred bond twixt Rodrigue and Chimene

Will quench the hatred between warring flames;

And we shall swiftly see your love the stronger:

Through a happy marriage, stifling all anger.

Chimene I hope for it more than I expect it now;

Don Diegue is, like my father, too proud.

The tears I would retain, I feel them flow;

The past torments me, I fear the future so.

Infanta Fear what? The failing powers of an old man?

Chimene Rodrigue is brave.

Infanta He is simply young.

Chimene Such men are valorous in their first outing.

Infanta In this, you have no need to fear a thing.

He is too much in love to court displeasure;

Two words from you will arrest his anger.

Chimene If he disobeys, the increase to my pain!

And if he obeys, then what will others say?

Of such high blood, to suffer such outrage!

Yield or resist the flames that in us rage

My spirit must be ashamed or confused,

By respect, or a request justly refused.

Infanta Chimene’s a noble soul, and though distressed

She will not countenance a thought that’s base;

But if, until that day the King shall proffer,

I make a prisoner of this perfect lover,

And thus prevent his outpouring of courage,

Will your loving spirit then take umbrage?

Chimene Ah! Madame, then I’ll have naught to fear.

Act II Scene IV (The Infanta, Chimene, Leonor, Page)

Infanta Page, go find Rodrigue, and bring him here.

Page The Count Gomes and he…

Chimene My God! I tremble.

Infanta Speak.

Page Left the palace after their quarrel.

Chimene Alone?

Page Alone, yes, and arguing together.

Chimene Surely they fight: it’s useless to speak further.

Madame, forgive me this my promptitude.

Act II Scene V (The Infanta, Leonor)

Infanta In my mind, alas, there’s such inquietude!

I pity her pain, her lover enchants me;

Peace vanishes, and desire inflames me.

What separates Rodrigue from Chimene

At once rekindles all my hope and pain;

Their separation I regret: its treasure

Floods my charmed mind with secret pleasure.

Leonor Is the lofty virtue reigning in your soul

So swift to pursue this ignoble goal?

Infanta Not ignoble, now, since here within me,

Great and triumphant, it is judge and jury.

Show it respect, it proves itself so dear.

Despite virtue and myself, I hope and fear;

My fragile heart, by folly crazed almost,

Follows the lover whom Chimene has lost.

Leonor Will you thus know the quenching of all courage,

Abandoning within you reason’s usage?

Infanta Ah! How weak is the effect of reason,

When the heart is touched by subtle poison!

And if the sufferer loves the malady,

There’s scarcely call for any remedy!

Leonor Your hope seduces, your malaise proves sweet;

Rodrigue’s not great enough to clasp your feet.

Infanta I know it well; though virtue seems to fade,

How love flatters the heart it does invade.

If Rodrigue should emerge as victor,

If that great soldier yields to his valour,

I may esteem him, love him without shame.

If he defeats the Count, there’s endless fame.

I dare to imagine that his slightest deeds

Will bring entire kingdoms to their knees;

And then love’s flattery persuades, I own,

That he shall occupy Grenada’s throne,

The Moors defeated, trembling and adoring,

Aragon open to its conqueror, welcoming,

Portugal yielding, and his noble gaze

Bearing his destiny beyond the wave,

The blood of Africa drenching his laurels;

And everything writ of famous mortals

I’ll expect of my Rodrigue in victory,

Making his love a subject for my glory.

Leonor But Madame, how far your thoughts leap apace

From a duel which perhaps may not take place.

Infanta Rodrigue the offended, the Count the offender;

What more is needed? They have left together.

Leonor Well! Let them fight, as you wish: but then,

Will Rodrigue be as you’ve imagined him?

Infanta What would you have? I’m mad, my mind strays;

You see with what ills love will fill my days.

Come to my room, console me within;

Don’t leave me in the misery I’m in.

Act II Scene VI (King Ferdinand, Don Arias, Don Sanche)

King The Count then is still proud, unreasonable!

Does he still think his error pardonable?

Arias I addressed him from you, about the insult.

I did what I could, Sire, with no result.

King Heavens! Is this how the presumptuous subject

Shows his consideration, and respect?

He scorns his king, insults Diegue, I see!

Before my court lays down the law to me!

Brave soldier and great general he may be,

But I’ve the means to lower pride so lofty;

Were he valour itself, the god of war,

He shall know the full weight of my law.

Despite the punishment for insolence,

I had at first voted for lenience;

But since he abuses it, go, today,

Whether he resists or not, lock him away.

Sanche Time may make him less of a rebel;

He was still heated from his quarrel;

Sire, in the first glow of such anger

To calm so noble a heart takes longer.

He knows he’s wrong, but his proud spirit

Won’t let him confess his error, as yet.

King Sanche, be silent now, and be advised

To take his part’s a crime to my eyes.

Sanche I obey and am silent: yet Sire, mercy,

One word in his defence.

King What may that be?

Sanche That a spirit accustomed to great action

Cannot bow readily in submission:

It cannot see what justifies such shame:

The word alone the Count resists, I say.

He found this duty too harsh, in truth,

If he had less heart, he’d bow to you.

Command his arm, strengthened in battle

To repair the injury and fight his duel;

He will give satisfaction; come what may,

He expects to hear, this answers him I say.

King You lack respect; I’ll allow for your age,

Excuse the ardour of your youthful courage.

A king, whose prudence has finer objects,

Takes care to save the blood of his subjects.

I guard my people, my thought preserves them,

As the head cares for the limbs its servants.

Thus your logic is not mine: however

I speak as a king, you as a soldier;

Whatever you say, whatever he believes,

No honour is lost in obeying me.

Then this insult touches me, the honour

Of one whom I have made my son’s tutor;

To contest my choice, is to challenge me,

Make an assault upon the power supreme.

No more. Besides, we observe ten vessels

Of our old enemies, flaunting their banners;

They have dared to approach the river-course.

Arias The Moors have learnt to know you by force.

Conquered so often now they will no more

Chance themselves against the conqueror.

King Ever with envy they view the power

Of my sceptre over Andalusia.

This noble country, they long possessed,

With jealousy in their eyes they address.

That is why, according to my will,

Castile was ruled these ten years from Seville,

To be nearer them, and be the swifter

To oppose whatever threat they offer.

Arias To the great cost of their leaders, and their fleet,

They know your presence assures their defeat.

There’s naught to fear.

King Neglect nothing, either.

Overconfidence attracts new danger.

You know yourself how easy it would be

For the flood tide to carry them to me.

Yet I’d be wrong, since all is uncertain,

In spreading fear in the hearts of men.

The panic that a vain alarm would bring,

In the darkness, would be a cruel thing:

Double the watch on the walls instead,

Guard the port, tonight.

Act II Scene VII (King Ferdinand, Don Sanche, Don Alonso)

La Mort du Comte de Gomes (2e Acte, 3e Tableau). Decor de MM. Robbechi et Amable

‘La Mort du Comte de Gomes (2e Acte, 3e Tableau). Décor de MM. Robbechi et Amable’
L'Illustration du 5 Décembre 1885, Auguste Tilly (d. 1898)
Restored by Adam Cuerden, Wikimedia Commons

Alonso Sire, the Count is dead.

Don Diegue, through his son, takes his revenge.

King On news of the insult, I foresaw its end;

Thus I wished to prevent this calamity.

Alonso Chimene arrives, plunged in her misery;

Tearful she comes here, to plead for justice.

King Though my heart sympathises with her grief,

The Count’s deed merited this penalty,

One he had earned by his temerity.

Yet despite the justice of his fall,

I regret the loss of such a general.

After his lengthy service to the State,

After the blood he spilt for me of late,

Whatever sentiments his pride inflicts,

His loss enfeebles me, his death afflicts.

Act II Scene VIII (King Ferdinand, Don Diegue, Chimene, Don Sanche, Don Arias, Don Alonso)

Chimene Sire, Sire, justice!

Diegue Ah, Sire! Hear my pleas.

Chimene I throw myself at your feet

Diegue I clasp your knees.

Chimene I demand justice.

Diegue Hear my defence.

Chimene The youth is rash, punish his insolence.

He has destroyed the pillar of your throne,

He has killed my father.

Diegue He has avenged his own.

Chimene His subjects’ justice is a king’s intent.

Diege Just vengeance deserves no such punishment.

King Rise both of you, and speak more calmly.

Chimene, I share in all your misery;

My soul is now marked by a like taint.

(To Don Diegue)

You may speak next, I sanction her complaint.

Chimene Sire, my father is dead; and as he died

I saw the blood pour from his noble side;

That blood which often preserved your walls,

That blood which often won your royal wars,

That blood, which shed still smokes in anger,

At being lost, not for you but another.

What in the midst of flame war did not dare

To shed, Rodrigue has, on the courtyard stair.

I ran to the place, drained of strength and colour,

And found him lifeless. Forgive my pallor,

Sire, my voice fails me in this tale, oppressed;

My tears and sighs should rather speak the rest.

King Courage, my child, and know this very day

Your king shall act the father in his place.

Chimene Sire, honour too great attends my distress.

As I have said, I found him there, lifeless;

His side was pierced, and to rouse me truly

His blood in the dust inscribed my duty;

Or rather his valour, reduced to such a state,

Spoke to me through his wounds, urging haste;

And, to be heard by the most just of kings,

Lends me the voice of those sad openings.

Sire, do not permit such wilful licence

To rule where you reign so in eminence.

Or allow the bravest, with impunity,

To be exposed to the blows of temerity;

A bold youth to triumph over his glory,

Bathe in his blood, defy his memory.

So valiant a warrior snatched from you,

Un-avenged, kills the wish to serve you.

My father is dead, and I ask vengeance,

For your interest not mine in this instance,

You lose by a death one of noble breath;

Avenge it by another, death for death.

Slay him, not for me, but for your crown,

For your grandeur, for your own renown;

Slay him, I say, Sire, for the royal good,

A man so proud of spilling noble blood.

King Diegue, reply.

Diegue How enviable, yes,

On losing strength to swiftly meet with death,

See how old age prepares for noble spirits

After long careers, miserable exits!

I, whose great labours had acquired glory,

I, who was ever pursued by victory,

Find that having lived far too long

I must rest un-avenged for a wrong.

What combat, siege, ambush could not farther

Nor Aragon indeed, nor Grenada,

Neither your foes, nor yet the envious,

The Count has perpetrated on us,

Hating your choice, proud of the advantage

Granted him by my weakness at my age.

Sire, thus these hairs whitened in harness,

This blood of mine poured out in such excess,

This arm once dreaded by your enemies,

Would have perished, lost to infamy,

If I had not produced a worthy son,

Worthy of his land, and of your person.

He lent me strength, killed the Count this day;

Preserved my honour, washing shame away.

If to display courage in resentment,

If to avenge a wrong, earns punishment,

The tempest’s wrath should fall on me instead:

When the arm errs, one punishes the head.

Whether you call our quarrel’s cause a crime,

Sire, I am the head, he but an arm of mine.

Chimene complains he has killed her father,

Yet I’d have done so, if I’d been younger.

Take this head the years have aged: preserve

A younger arm which will remain to serve.

By shedding my blood, appease Chimene:

I’ll not resist, I consent to every pain;

With no complaint of harshness, I’ll yet

Die without dishonour, without regret.

King The matter’s vital, the case put well,

And it merits debate in open council.

Escort Chimene to her house, Don Sanche.

Your bounds are my court, your word, Diegue.

Bring me the son. I will mete out justice.

Chimene It is just, great King, that a murderer perish.

King Take some rest, my child, and calm your grief.

Chimene To command I rest’s to see my grief increase.

End of Act II