Pierre Corneille

Le Cid


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

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Act III Scene I (Rodrigue, Elvire)

Elvire Why are you here, Rodrigue, you reprobate?

Rodrigue Chasing the harsh course of my wretched fate.

Elvire How can you find the audacity and pride

To show yourself here, where a light has died?

What! Are you here to sully the Count’s name?

Did you not slay him?

Rodrigue Alive, he brought me shame;

Honour demanded that expense of breath.

Elvire But to take refuge in the house of death?

Does his murderer make this his sanctuary?

Rodrigue Yet I only seek the judge’s penalty.

Do not gaze at me in such surprise;

I seek death, having dealt it likewise,

My judge is my love, my judge Chimene,

I merit death for bringing her such pain,

And I come to receive, as sovereign good,

The sentence, from her lips, that seeks my blood.

Elvire Rather flee her eyes, and flee her violence;

At her first transports, leave her presence.

Go: don’t expose yourself to the tremor

That will fuel the first ardour of her anger.

Rodrigue No, that dear object to whom I brought terror,

Cannot in punishing show too fierce an anger;

I’d evade a thousand deaths that threaten pain,

If I’d die the sooner by angering her again.

Elvire Chimene is at the palace, bathed in tears,

She’ll be accompanied when she appears.

Rodrigue, fly, I beg you, spare us worry.

What will they say if they see you with me?

Do you wish her named by some slanderer

As receiving the murderer of her father?

She returns; she comes, there, I see her:

Rodrigue, hide, for the sake of honour.

Act III Scene II (Don Sanche, Chimene, Elvire)

Sanche Yes, Madame, you must have sacrifice:

Your anger’s valid, your tears justified;

And I will not attempt, by vain oration,

To soften you, or give you consolation.

But if of serving you I’m capable,

Employ my blade to strike the culpable;

Employ my love to avenge this death:

My arm will be strong, should you say yes.

Chimene Oh, woe!

Sanche Pray you, accept my service.

Chimene It would offend the King who promised justice.

Sanche You know how justice moves, with what slowness,

How often the crime fails to meet redress;

That slow and doubtful course provokes more tears.

Allow a knight to avenge you, not the years:

His way is surer, swiftly it will punish.

Chimene Such is my last recourse; if thus it finish,

And if for my plight you still feel pity,

You will be free to avenge my injury.

Sanche It would be happiness if you’d consent;

Granting me hope, I take my leave, content.

Act III Scene III (Chimene, Elvire)

Chimene At last I’m free, now without constraint,

I can reveal my grief, void of restraint;

I can grant passage to my woeful sighs;

Open my heart, give voice to my cries.

Elvire, my father’s dead; and the first blade

With which Rodrigue fought, made him a shade.

Weep, weep, my eyes, dissolve in water!

Half of my life has entombed the other,

I must revenge myself, this fatal blow,

For one no more, on one still here below.

Elvire Rest, Madame.

Chimene Ah! Unfortunate at best

In the midst of such woe to talk of rest!

How will my sorrow ever now be lessened

If I cannot hate the cause, his fatal hand?

And what can I hope for, save pain eternal,

If I hate the crime, but love the criminal?

Elvire He robs you of your father, yet you love him!

Chimene Love is too slight, Elvire, I adore him;

My passion contends with my anger;

Deep in my enemy I find the lover;

I feel that despite resentment’s dart,

Rodrigue still fights my father in my heart.

He attacks, presses on, yields, defends,

Now strong, now weak, again it ends:

Yet in this harsh struggle of the whole,

He tears apart my heart but not my soul;

And whatever power love has over me,

I shall not hesitate to do my duty;

I pass, unwavering, where honour leads,

Rodrigue is dear to me, his merit grieves;

My heart takes his part; yet, there’s the head,

I know what I am, and that my father’s dead.

Elvire Will you pursue this?

Chimene Ah! Cruel thought!

And cruel pursuit to which I’m forced!

I demand his head, and fear to win it:

My death will follow his, yet I must punish!

Elvire Reject, Madame, so tragic a design;

Reject this law, tyrannical and blind.

Chimene What! My father, in my arms there, dying,

His blood seeks vengeance, and I unhearing!

My heart, shamefully lost, it now appears,

Shall owe him only vain and useless tears!

And the power of a seductive lover

Stifle with craven silence all my honour!

Elvire Madame, believe me, you’ll be forgiven

If you show less ire against a loved one;

Against such a suitor, you’ve done enough,

You’ve seen the King; don’t press too much,

Don’t persist in this strange act of will.

Chimene My honour’s there, I must be avenged, still;

However we pride ourselves on love’s merit,

Excuse is shameful to a noble spirit.

Elvire But you love Rodrigue, he cannot offend.

Chimene I know it.

Elvire Well then, what do you intend?

Chimene To preserve my honour and end my woe,

Pursue him, see him slain, and die also.

Act III Scene IV (Rodrigue, Chimene, Elvire)

Rodrigue Ah! Without pursuit, without legal strife,

Yours is the honour of ending my life.

Chimene Elvire, where are we, and what do I see?

Rodrigue in my house! Rodrigue before me!

Rodrigue Spare not my blood; taste, with no resistance,

The sweetness of my death and your vengeance.

Chimene Alas!

Rodrigue Hear me.

Chimene I die.

Rodrigue But a moment.

Chimene Go, let me die.

Rodrigue Four words alone, relent;

Then, answer me only with this blade.

Chimene What! Stained with his blood, the debt unpaid!

Rodrigue My Chimene…

Chimene Remove that hideous thing,

Reproachful of your crime and your being.

Rodrigue Gaze on it rather to inflame your hate,

Increase your anger, and advance my fate.

Chimene It’s stained by his blood.

Rodrigue Then plunge it into mine,

And the colour of his no longer find.

Chimene Ah! How cruel to murder in a day

The father by steel, the child by its display!

Remove that thing, I cannot endure it:

You wish me to hear, yet kill me by it.

Rodrigue I’ll do as you wish, while still expecting

To end my wretched life at your asking;

You’ll not extract, despite all my affection,

A coward’s repentance for noble action.

The irreparable result of rash anger

Shamed me by dishonouring my father.

You know how a blow pains a noble heart.

I sought the author of it, for my part:

I found him, and avenged my father’s honour;

If needed, I’d do the same once more.

Indeed, against my father and myself,

My love fought long in favour of yourself:

Judge of your power: despite the grave offence,

I hesitated whether to yet take vengeance.

Faced with your pain, or suffering the affront

I thought I might be too swift in the hunt,

I accused myself of a rush to violence;

Though your beauty might have swung the balance,

If I had not felt that this was also true:

Without my honour I’d not merit you;

That despite my place within your heart,

You’d hate my shame, if I took your part;

That hearing your love, answering its voice,

Would render me worthless, deny your choice.

I say it again, and, even though I sigh

Yet to my last sigh, I’ll repeat that I

Have offended you, and yet I had to,

To wipe out my shame, and merit you;

But, satisfying honour and my father,

It is for your satisfaction I am here:

I am here to offer my life to you.

I did what I must: I do what I must do.

I know a father’s death arms you against me;

I would not rob you of your enemy:

Sacrifice now to the blood of the dead

Him whose honour lay in its being shed.

Chimene Ah! Rodrigue! It’s true, though your enemy,

I cannot blame you for fleeing infamy;

And, however strong my outburst of pain

I do not accuse you, I only weep again.

I know what honour, after such an outrage

Asks of the ardour of a man of courage:

You did a knight’s duty, to my mind;

But also, in doing it, you taught me mine.

Your fateful valour teaches by victory,

It avenged your father, and his glory:

The same need is mine, to my horror,

Maintain my honour, avenge my father.

Alas! Your love for me is my despair.

If some other ill had slain my father there,

My soul would have found in seeing you

The one solace I might hope to view;

I would have felt the cure for grief and fears,

If your loving hand had dried my tears,

But I must lose one, having lost the other;

Quenching my love, a debt to my honour;

And this awful duty whose rule slays me,

Drives me to work your ruin swiftly.

Do not expect, despite all my affection,

Craven feelings aimed in your direction.

Though our love pleads now in your favour,

My soul must equal yours in honour:

Though offending me, you prove worthy too;

I must, by your death, prove worthy yet of you.

Rodrigue No longer delay the claims of honour:

It asks my life, and I am in your power;

Sacrifice me to your noble vengeance.

The blow will be as sweet as the sentence.

If given my crime you await slow justice,

Honour and my punishment both languish.

I will die happy dying by a hand so pure.

Chimene Go, I am not your executioner.

If you offer me your life, must I offend?

I must attack you, but you may defend;

It must fall to other hands than mine,

I may pursue, not punish the crime.

Rodrigue Whatever our love pleads in my favour,

Your soul must equal mine in honour;

And to borrow others to avenge a father,

My Chimene, believe me, will not answer:

My hand alone avenged that first offence,

Your hand alone must now seek vengeance.

Chimene Cruel! Why so obstinate in this matter?

You had no help, yet make me this offer!

I’ll follow your example, I am brave too,

I’ll not let my honour be shared with you.

My father and my honour will owe nothing

To your love, or your despair in dying.

Rodrigue How harsh is honour! What then can I do

To win this grace ultimately from you?

In the name of a dead father, or our amity,

Punish by vengeance, or at least by pity.

Your unfortunate lover finds here less pain,

Death at your hand, than life with your disdain.

Chimene Go, I do not disdain you.

Rodrigue Then, you should.

Chimene I cannot.

Rodrigue Have you all blame and slander so forgot?

My crime once known, if you keep the flame,

What will envy and falsehood not proclaim!

Ensure their silence: cease this waste of breath,

Preserve your name and bring about my death.

Chimene To let you live then is the best for me;

I would that the blackest voice of envy

Might praise me to the skies and pity too,

Knowing I love and must denounce you.

Go, no longer show to my flawed will

What I must lose, while I adore it still.

Hide your going in night’s shadowy veil;

If you are seen, my honour you assail.

It will open my life to slander’s offence

If anyone learns now of your presence.

Give no one cause to attack my virtue.

Rodrigue Let me die!

Chimene Go!

Rodrigue What are you resigned to?

Chimene Despite the sweet love that thwarts my anger,

I must do what I can to avenge my father;

And yet, despite that duty’s cruel rigour,

My sole wish is to be denied the power.

Rodrigue Miracle of love!

Chimene Sea of pain, rather!

Rodrigue What tears and woe come to us from a father!

Chimene Rodrigue, who’d have thought?

Rodrigue Chimene, who’d have said?

Chimene That happiness so near, would fail instead?

Rodrigue And that so close to harbour, from the blue

So swift a storm would break our barque in two?

Chimene Ah! Fatal grief!

Rodrigue Alas! Vain regret!

Chimene I’ll hear no more. Why are you here, yet?

Rodrigue Adieu; a death in life remains to me,

Until your actions rob me of it wholly.

Chimene If I should gain the verdict, then I swear

Not to survive you for a moment there.

Adieu; leave, and be careful no one sees.

Elvire Madame, some trials that Heaven is pleased…

Chimene Trouble me not, but leave me here to sigh

Silence I seek, and night, in which to cry.

Act III Scene V (Don Diegue)

Diegue Never do we find perfect happiness:

Our sweetest days are tinged with sadness.

Always some fresh care, some event,

Troubles the purity of our content.

In the midst of pleasure my soul suffers:

I drown in joy, and tremble with my fears.

I have seen the corpse of my enemy

Yet cannot find the hand that avenged me.

In vain I labour, worry uselessly,

Aged as I am, search through the city:

What little my years have left me of vigour,

Consumes itself in seeking for the victor.

At every instant, through this night of sorrow,

I thought to clasp him, but clasped a shadow;

And my love, tricked by these deceptions,

Doubling my dread yields to new suspicions.

I can find no traces of his passage;

I fear the Count’s friends and entourage;

Their numbers daze my mind and reason.

Rodrigue is dead, or languishing in prison.

Just Heavens! Am I deceived once more,

Or is this my last hope I stand before?

Without doubt it’s he; my prayers are answered,

My fears are over now, my cares are ended.

Act III Scene VI (Don Diegue, Don Rodrigue)

L'Envoyé de Boabdil le Maure Déclarant la Guerre au Roi de Castille (2e Acte, 4e Tableau). Décor de MM. Robbechi et Amable

‘L'Envoyé de Boabdil le Maure Déclarant la Guerre au Roi de Castille (2e Acte, 4e Tableau). Décor de MM. Robbechi et Amable’
L'Illustration du 5 Décembre 1885, Auguste Tilly (d. 1898)
Restored by Adam Cuerden, Wikimedia Commons

Diegue Rodrigue, Heaven sends you to me, my boy!

Rodrigue Alas!

Diegue Do not blend your sighs with my joy;

Let me take breath before I praise you.

My valour has no cause to disown you;

You’ve emulated it, your great daring

Shows our heroic race is still breathing.

You descend from them, you are my issue;

Your first sword-thrust equalled mine too;

And with fine ardour your lively youth

Attains my fame with this single proof.

Prop of my old age, crown of my delight,

Clasp what you’ve honoured, this head all white,

Come, kiss this cheek, and so kiss the place

Where the wrong fell your courage did efface.

Rodrigue The honour is yours; I could do no less

Born of our race, nurtured at its breast.

I count myself happy if it brings delight,

My trial stroke pleasing him who gave me life;

But be not jealous, now, of joy’s faction,

If I in turn choose to seek satisfaction.

Let my despair burst forth, at liberty,

Your speech has now too long restrained me.

I am not sorry to have served so nobly;

But return the good this blade stole from me.

My arm, to avenge you, raised against my love

Deprived me of my soul, by the strokes I wove.

Speak nothing more; through you I am dismayed:

What I owed you, I’ve generously paid.

Diegue Bear more nobly this fruit of victory:

I gave you life and you return me glory;

Since dearer to me than life is honour,

So in return I owe you all the more.

Yet from a true heart drive all weaknesses,

We’ve but one honour, many mistresses!

Love is mere pleasure, honour is a duty.

Rodrigue What’s this you say?

Diegue What you know, already.

Rodrigue Offended honour takes its vengeance on me,

And, shame, you dare urge infidelity!

Their vileness matches, equally applies

To cowardly blades, and disloyal eyes.

To my loyal heart do no injury;

Let me be noble without perjury;

My bonds are far too strong to be broken;

Even without hope my faith’s unshaken;

Unable to leave or possess Chimene,

The death I seek is my sweetest pain.

Diegue This is no time for you to search for death.

Your prince your nation need your loyal breath.

The fleet we feared, entering the estuary,

Seeks to surprise the town, scorch the country.

The Moors sail silently, the tide and night

Will bring them to our walls before the light.

The Court’s in chaos, the people terrified.

Shouts and tears alone flow from our side.

In this disaster, fate gave its decree,

I found five hundred friends attend on me,

Who, knowing the affront, with equal metal,

Came and offered to avenge my quarrel.

You forestalled them; but this valiant band

Is best deployed against the African.

March at their head, the post of honour;

Their noble troop asks for you as leader.

Go: halt the foe’s first expense of breath,

If you wish to die, there lies noble death.

Seize this chance, since it is offered freely;

To your loss the king may owe his safety.

Yet rather return with laurel on your brow.

Let glory be more than mere vengeance now,

Carry it further, let valour influence

The king to pardon, and Chimene to silence;

If you love her, then return the victor,

The one way that is left to you to win her.

But time is too precious to be wasted thus;

I’ll forgo speech, wishing you to leave us.

Come, follow me, go fight, and show your king

What he lost with the Count, you again bring.

End of Act III