Pierre Corneille

Le Cid

Act IV

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

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Act IV Scene I (Chimene, Elvire)

Le Ballet au Camp du Cid (3e Acte, 6e Tableau). Décor de MM. Rubé, Chaperon et Jambon

‘Le Ballet au Camp du Cid (3e Acte, 6e Tableau). Décor de MM. Rubé, Chaperon et Jambon’
L'Illustration du 5 Décembre 1885, Auguste Tilly (d. 1898)
Restored by Adam Cuerden, Wikimedia Commons

Chimene Are the rumours true, Elvire? Are you sure?

Elvire You’d never believe how he’s admired, or

How with one voice, they praise them so,

The glorious deeds of this young hero.

The Moors before him, in their shame, scatter;

Their landing’s swift, their flight is swifter;

Three hours of battle gave our warriors

A total victory, two kings as prisoners.

Our leader’s courage leapt all obstacles.

Chimene And Rodrigue’s arm performed these miracles?

Elvire Through his efforts those two kings were won;

His hand conquered them, he was the one.

Chimene From whom did you learn this latest news?

Elvire From those who shout his praises, those who

Call him their joy’s object and its author,

Their guardian angel and their liberator.

Chimene And the King, how does he view such valour?

Elvire Rodrigue has not yet dared to appear before

Him, but Don Diegue, in his son’s name

Presented him with the captive kings in chains,

And has asked a favour of the noble prince,

To receive the warrior who saved a province.

Chimene But is he wounded?

Elvire Of that there’s nothing.

You’ve changed colour! Collect your feelings.

Chimene Then let me re-collect past wrath also:

Though loving, must I forget myself so?

He’s praised, acclaimed: witness my consent!

My honour’s mute, my duty impotent!

Silence, Love: oh, see my anger, rather:

Though he conquers kings, he killed a father;

This dress of black that reveals my pallor,

Was the first outcome of all his valour;

And whatever’s said elsewhere, at this time,

Here everything speaks to me of his crime.

You that give such force to my resentments,

Veil, crepe, dress, you sorrowful ornaments,

Things that his first deed has forced on me,

Against my love now, sustain my glory,

And when that love exhibits all its power,

Speak then of my sad duty by the hour,

Fear nothing, be this conqueror’s attacker.

Elvire Compose yourself, here comes the Infanta.

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

Infanta I come not to console you now; be clear,

Rather I come to mingle sigh with tear.

Chimene You should rather take part in all this joy,

Blessing the grace the Heavens employ,

Madame, no one but me deserves to suffer.

Rodrigue has saved us all from great danger,

And kept the people safe, the nearest way,

Leaving me alone to weep, on this day:

He’s saved the city: he has served his king;

Only to me his blade’s a fatal thing.

Infanta Chimene, it’s true he’s performed miracles.

Chimene I’ve heard the painful news of these marvels.

And heard him proclaimed loudly everywhere,

As brave soldier, and unlucky lover.

Infanta Why should this public notice so pain you?

This young Mars, they praise, once pleased you;

Possessed your soul; was subject to your law;

Praise his valour: honour your choice the more.

Chimene Others can praise him with a true intent,

Praise of him to me is but more torment.

His greatness only adds to my sorrow,

Seeing his worth I see what I forgo.

Ah! Cruel vexation to a loving spirit!

I love the more, the more I know his merit:

Yet my duty ever is the stronger,

I’ll seek his death though he is my lover.

Infanta Yesterday, duty brought you great esteem;

Noble that struggle which you waged did seem,

So worthy of great hearts: our courtiers

Admired your courage, pitying the lovers.

Yet will you take a faithful friend’s advice?

Chimene Not to obey you would appear a vice.

Infanta What was right then is not so today.

Rodrigue is now our sole support, I say,

Our hope, the man the people all adore,

Pillar of Castile, terror of the Moor.

Even the King agrees, the truth is plain,

That in Rodrigue your father lives again;

If you’d have me explain it in a breath,

You pursue public ruin through his death.

What? To avenge a father are we free

To deliver our country to the enemy?

Is your cause against us legitimate?

Are we part of his crime, to share his fate?

After all you are not obliged to marry

Him whom a father forces you to harry:

I’ll help you quench your desire, this strife,

Erase your love, but leave us yet his life.

Chimene Oh! I am not worthy of such kindness;

This duty that embitters is limitless.

Though I still feel love for the conqueror,

Though the King may flatter, crowds adore,

Though he’s among others born to quarrel,

Beneath my cypress I’ll go scorn his laurel.

Infanta It is noble, to avenge a father,

Attacking, out of duty, one so dear;

But it’s a deed of a higher order

To put the public good before a father.

Believe me, it’s enough to quench your fires:

He’s punished who loses what he desires.

Let the good of the country be your law:

Besides can the King now grant you more?

Chimene Though he refuses, I will not stay silent.

Infanta Think carefully, Chimene, of your intent.

Adieu: alone you may reflect at leisure.

Chimene I’ve no choice, on the death of a father.

Act IV Scene III (The King, Diegue, Arias, Rodrigue, Sanche)

King Noble heir of an illustrious family

Ever Castille’s pillar and its glory,

Race of ancestors of signal valour,

Whom by these deeds of yours you honour,

My power to recompense you now is slight;

You show greater merit than I have might…

The country saved from a cruel enemy,

Your hand securing the sceptre firmly,

The Moors defeated, before our alarms

Secured the orders to repulse their arms,

These are exploits that deny your King

The means of just reward for anything.

But your two captive kings make recompense,

Both naming you their Cid in my presence.

Since Cid in their language is lord in ours,

I’ll not begrudge you all such honours.

So, be the Cid: and let your name below

Strike with fear Granada and Toledo;

To all beneath my law now may it show,

What you are worth to me, and what I owe.

Rodrigue May your Majesty, Sire, spare my blushes!

It takes too much account of meagre service,

And makes me now ashamed before the King,

Such great honour: so little meriting.

I know, to the security your realms give

I owe my heart’s blood, the air I breathe;

And if I lose them for some noble object,

I’d simply be acting as a loyal subject.

King Yet, all who in my service so engage

Do not acquit themselves with such courage;

And valour that is not born of excess

Seldom achieves comparable success.

Allow our praise then, tell the history

At greater length of all this victory.

Rodrigue Sire, you know that finding pressing danger

Had filled the whole city with its terror,

A group of friends, my father assembled,

Solicited my help, though I was troubled…

Yet, Sire, you’ll pardon my temerity

If I commanded without authority.

Peril approached: their arms were ready;

Appearing then at Court would be foolhardy.

And if I were to die, it seemed sweeter

To give my life fighting in your honour.

King I pardon now the matter of your vengeance;

The State, defended, speaks in your defence.

Henceforth Chimene’s plea will go no further.

I will only hear her to console her.

But go on.

Rodrigue Under me the troop advanced,

Displaying all its manly confidence.

We were five hundred, but with swift support

Grew to three thousand as we reached the port,

So that seeing us marching to that stage,

Those most terrified found new courage!

Arriving, I hid quite two thirds of the men

In the holds of the vessels there, and then

The rest, whose numbers now increased hourly,

Devoured by impatience, gathering round me,

Lay down on the ground, where in silence

The best part of a fine night was spent.

At my command the guards did the same,

And, staying hidden, helped my stratagem;

Then I boldly feigned to owe to you

The orders they and I would then pursue.

The faint light cast from every distant star

Showed thirty ships now crossing the bar;

The waves swelled beneath, and their effort

Brought the tide-borne Moors within the port.

We let them pass; all appearing tranquil;

No soldiers at the port, the city still.

The calm we maintained deceived their eyes.

They, believing they’d achieved surprise,

Fearless, closed, anchored, disembarked,

And then they ran against us in the dark.

We leapt up on the instant, copious cries

Uttered by our troops, rose to the skies.

Others echoed from our anchored fleet;

Thus the Moors’ amazement proved complete,

Terror seized them just as they were landing.

They knew defeat, prior to any fighting.

They thought to pillage, but met with slaughter.

We pressed them on land, and on the water,

And high their blood lifted like a fountain,

Before they could resist, re-group, again.

But soon, in spite of us, their princes rallied,

Their courage was revived, their terror fled:

The shame of dying, without act of war,

Quelling confusion renewed their valour.

They drew their scimitars against us swiftly;

Mingling our blood with theirs most horribly.

The river, fleet, the port, the shore, the main,

Were sites of conflict now, where death did reign.

O countless the brave acts, courageousness

Concealed itself from knowledge in the darkness,

Where each, the sole true witness of his blows,

Could not discern whose side fortune chose!

I rushed everywhere, encouraging our men,

Making these advance, supporting them.

Deploying new-comers, urging them on,

Nor could I judge the outcome till the dawn.

But, at last, light showed us our advantage;

The Moors faced defeat, and so lost courage:

And seeing our reinforcements on the way,

Fear of death destroyed their hopes with day.

The re-gained their ships, they cut the cables,

Their dreadful cries rose high above the gables,

They retreated then, without considering

The action their kings were undertaking.

Their terror was too great to think of duty;

The tide that brought them on now helped them flee;

Yet their kings were still engaged in battle,

Handfuls of their men, pierced by our metal,

Disputed valiantly, sold their lives dearly.

In vain I begged them to surrender to me:

Scimitars in hand they would not listen;

But seeing their men fall all around them,

And that they were fighting on unshielded,

They sought our chief: answering, they yielded,

I sent them to you, with due compliments;

The war then ceased through lack of combatants.

It was in this manner, in your service…

Act IV Scene IV (The King, Diegue, Arias, Rodrigue, Alonso, Sanche)

Alonso Sire, Chimene is here, demanding justice.

King Sad news, and an obsessive sense of duty!

(To Rodrigue)

Go, I will not pressure her unfairly.

In place of thanks, I’ll drive you from this place:

But, ere you go, accept your King’s embrace.

(Exit Rodrigue)

Diegue Chimene pursues him, yet she would save him.

King I’ll test her now, since they say she loves him.

Adopt a sad expression.

Act IV Scene V (The King, Diegue, Arias, Alonso, Sanche, Chimene, Elvire)

King Be content

Chimene, victory answers your intent:

Though Rodrigue overcame our enemies

He died before our eyes from wounds received.

Offer thanks to Heaven who has avenged you.

(To Don Diegue)

See how her face abruptly changes hue.

Diegue Yes, see, she’s fainting, and from perfect love,

In this swoon, Sire, see how her passions move.

Her grief betrays the secret of her soul,

And we may no longer doubt the tale that’s told.

Chimene What! Rodrigue is dead?

King No, no, he lives,

And bears you yet his unchanging love:

Quiet this sorrow borne of your distress.

Chimene Sire, one faints from joy as well as sadness:

Excess of happiness may bring on weakness,

Surprise the soul, and overcome the senses.

King You wish us to believe the impossible?

Chimene, your grief was only too visible.

Chimene Sire, make this the culmination to my woe

And call it grief then, if you wish it so.

A deep displeasure overcame my feelings;

His death destroyed the object I was seeking.

If he had died of wounds for his country

Vengeance was thwarted, and my plans awry:

So fine an end would only injure me

Who ask his death, but not a death in glory,

No great acclaim to raise him up on high,

On a scaffold, not in honour, he must die;

For my father not his country, diminished,

Let his name be sullied, memory tarnished.

To die for one’s country is no sad fate;

Such a death sets one among the great.

I love his victory: for that’s no sin.

The State, secure now, returns my victim.

Noble, then, famous among warriors,

A leader crowned with laurel not with flowers,

To say it in a word, I find him, his blade,

Worthy of sacrifice to my father’s shade…

Such vain hopes I allowed myself to feel!

Rodrigue has naught to fear from my steel;

What use are my scorned tears against him?

Your whole empire now lies open to him;

There all’s allowed him, beneath your sway;

He triumphs over me, as the Moors today.

His enemies’ spilt blood drowns out justice,

As a new trophy for his crimes does service;

We swell the pomp, and scornful of the law,

Follow his chariot, with two kings before.

King Daughter, your words show too much violence.

In rendering justice, set all in the balance:

Your father died, yet he was the aggressor;

Justice itself commands me to be fairer.

Before you accuse my judgement further

Consult your heart: Rodrigue is its master.

Love, in secret, thanks your King moreover,

For the favour that grants you such a lover.

Chimene Grants me! My foe! Object of my anger!

Source of my woes! Murderer of my father!

To my just cause you give so little weight,

You will not even hear the wrongs I state!

Since you refuse justice to all my claims,

Sire, let me have my recourse to weapons;

That’s how he perpetrated his offence,

And that is how I now seek vengeance.

I ask his head of all your warriors, now;

Let one bring it, I’ll be his prize, I vow.

Let combat begin, Sire, combat finished,

I’ll wed the man, if Rodrigue is punished.

Let them proclaim this on your authority.

King This custom here, of ancient pedigree,

As means to punish an unjust assault,

Robs the State of its finest men, the fault

This sad abuse creates if it finds success

Protects the criminal, attacks the guiltless.

I exempt Rodrigue: he’s far too valuable

To expose to such a fate, unjust and fickle;

Whatever blood that noble heart has spilt,

The Moors in fleeing bore away his guilt.

Diegue What, Sire! For him alone you change the law

That has been countless times observed at court?

What will your people, what will envy say,

If your protection cloaks him every way,

Preventing him from seeking to appear,

Where a noble death is sought by honour?

Such a favour tarnishes his glory:

Let him not blush now for his victory.

The Count was rash; Rodrigue replied though:

Played the brave man’s part, and still must do so.

King Since you wish it, I will grant permission:

But thousands will view it as their mission,

The prize Chimene would award their blows

Would make of all my warriors his foes.

For him to face them all would be unjust,

He should face only one man, if he must.

Choose whom you wish, and choose well, Chimene;

But after this ask me naught again.

Diegue Excuse none of all those he terrifies;

Leave the field open, see, no man applies.

After what Rodrigue has said today,

Who is brave enough to make a play?

Who would take on such an adversary?

Who would show such courage or temerity?

Sanche Open the lists: you’ll bring on his assailant;

I am that man, so rash, or rather valiant,

Favour my ardour’s urging now in this.

Madame, you must remember your promise.

King Chimene, will you place your cause in his hand?

Chimene I promised.

King Tomorrow then, understand.

Diegue No, Sire, now: there must be no more delay.

A brave man should be ready come what may.

King To win a war, then duel immediately!

Diegue Rodrigue has rested while he told his story.

King He shall rest some hours more before they fight;

And for fear such combat be seen as right,

To show you all I allow with some regret

This blood-stained process that has never yet

Pleased me: the court and I will be absent.

(To Arias)

You alone will judge them competent.

See to it that both act honourably,

Once over, bring the conqueror to me.

Either will earn the same prize for his pains;

I’ll with my own hand give him to Chimene,

And he will receive her hand as his reward.

Chimene What! Sire, to impose so harsh a law!

King Yet Love, far from registering this protest,

If Rodrigue wins, true justice will attest.

Cease to murmur against laws so sweet;

Whoever wins, will yet fall at your feet.

End of Act IV