Pierre Corneille

Le Cid

Act V

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

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Act V Scene I (Rodrigue, Chimene)

Chimene Rodrigue, and here! Whence your audacity?

Go, you harm my honour now; please leave me.

Rodrigue I go to die, Madame, yet come to you,

Before my death, to say a last adieu.

Eternal love that binds me to your laws

Accepts my life in homage thus to yours.

Chimene You go to die!

Rodrigue I haste towards that hour

That yields my being to your vengeful power.

Chimene You go to die! Has Sanche’s blade such art

It works on your indomitable heart?

What makes you so weak, and him so strong?

Rodrigue, about to fight, sings his swan-song!

He who feared not my father, or the Moors,

Off to fight Sanche, thinks it a lost cause!

In time of need your courage is all spent?

Rodrigue I go not to a duel, but punishment;

My faithful ardour deprives me of desire

To defend myself, since you light the pyre.

My heart’s the same; my arm loses strength

When it seeks to protect what you condemn;

Last night would have yet proved fatal

If I’d fought only in my own quarrel;

But defending my people, king and country,

Only a traitor would have dared fight badly.

My heart does not detest life so utterly

As to wish to lose it through disloyalty.

Now fighting solely in my own cause,

You ask my death and I accept your laws.

Vengeance chooses another hand’s force

(I was not worthy of dying at yours):

None will see me resist what must ensue;

I owe respect to one who fights for you,

I will yield him my naked chest bravely,

Adoring your hand, in that which slays me.

Chimene If the force of justice and sad duty

Urging me on, pursuing victory,

Prescribes for you so harsh a law

It renders you defenceless, all the more

Be mindful in that act of blindness

That your honour is at stake, no less

Than your life, and your living glory

If you die, will be one more past story.

Your honour’s dearer to you than I am,

Since with a father’s blood it stained your hand,

And made you renounce, despite your passion

Your sweetest hope, that of my possession:

Yet I see you treat it now so lightly,

That you would be vanquished easily.

Your honour’s plagued by inconsistency.

Why is it now not as it seemed to be?

Is your sole virtue committing outrage?

Except for insults, do you lack courage?

Did you show such harshness to my father

That conquered you might know your conqueror?

Go, without seeking death: let me pursue you,

Defend your honour, though you’ve no wish to.

Rodrigue After the Count’s death, the Moors defeat,

Is this honour of mine not yet replete?

It should disdain the need for self-defence;

They know my courage dares all attempts,

My valour is high, and beneath the heavens

As for my honour, nothing is more precious.

No, no, think as you wish, in this story

Rodrigue may die without losing glory,

Without being accused of lacking honour,

Unconquered, free of any conqueror.

They’ll merely say: ‘He adored Chimene;

He wished to die and not endure the pain

Of her hatred, bowed to that destiny

That of a lover made an enemy.

She sought his life, and yet his noble heart

Could not deny her justice, for his part.

So he lost his love, to save his honour

So he lost his life, to save his lover’s,

Preferring (to hopes of making her his wife)

His honour to Chimene, Chimene to life.’

And so you will see my death in this duel,

Far from quenching glory, will give it fuel;

And this honour will flow from willing death,

Your need for recompense ends with my breath.

Chimene Since life and honour then prove far too weak

To stop you hastening to your death, Rodrigue,

If ever I loved you, take revenge on me,

Defend yourself, from Don Sanche so wrest me.

Fight to free me from the harsh condition

That yields me to an object of aversion.

Must I say more? Go: think of your defence,

To tax my duty, impose my silence.

And if you feel your love is still alive,

Emerge as the victor, with Chimene your prize.

Adieu: these last words make me blush with shame.

Rodrigue Is there a sword that can defy my claim?

Navarese, Moors, Castilians, appear,

All Spain’s men of valour now stand here;

Join together so, create an army,

To fight this one man roused so utterly:

Unite your force against a hope so sweet;

You’ll prove too few now to deny it me.

Act V Scene II (Infanta)

Shall I hear you again, high blood of ours,

That makes a crime of my love?

Shall I hear you, love, whose tender powers

Make my generous heart against it move?

Poor Princess, to which of the two

Must you devote these hours?

Rodrigue your valour proves worthy of me;

But you’re no king’s son, despite victory.

Implacable fate, whose harshness parts

My honour from my desire,

Is it written my choice, counter my heart,

Must quench forever my loving fire?

Heavens! What sighs aspire

To rise from my loving heart,

If it must endlessly grieve and suffer

Not quench its love, nor accept its lover!

Yet it’s too harsh, and my reason’s stunned

By my scorn for such a lover:

Though birth reserves me for kings alone,

Rodrigue I’ll bow to your law with honour.

Over two kings the victor,

How then could you lack a crown?

Does the title of Cid, your recent gain,

Not clearly show over whom you’ll reign?

He’s worthy of me, but made for Chimene;

The gift I gave proves my ruin.

Her father’s death brings them, I maintain,

So little hatred, sad she pursues him.

I must hope no harm’s ensuing,

From his crime, or from my pain,

Since, to punish, destiny agrees

That love live on so, between enemies.

Act V Scene III (Infanta, Leonor)

Infanta Why here, Leonor?

Leonor To rejoice, Lady,

At this repose your soul finds, finally.

Infanta Whence should such peace arise to quench my pain?

Leonor If love lives on hope, and dies with it again,

Rodrigue can no longer quench your courage.

You know the duel that Chimene would stage;

Since he will die, or else they will be wed,

Your heart is freed, as your hope is dead.

Infanta Oh! Far from that!

Leonor To what can you pretend?

Infanta Rather, from what shall I myself defend?

If Rodrigue duels accepting such conditions,

I have many means to alter their intentions.

Love, sweet author of my cruel anguish,

Shows lovers’ minds many an artifice.

Leonor What can you work, if a father’s merit

Rouses no discord between their spirits?

For Chimene shows readily by her action,

That hate no longer fuels his prosecution.

She’s granted combat, and for combatant

Accepted the first offer made that instant.

She’d no recourse to that nobility,

Who by their exploits won themselves glory.

Don Sanche suits her choice, and he’ll suffice

Since this duel will be the first he fights;

His lack of experience pleases her;

Since he lacks renown she lacks all fear;

And her calm reveals to us readily

She seeks a duel to discharge her duty,

One that will give Rodrigue swift victory,

And render him no more her enemy.

Infanta I have seen all this, my heart however,

As Chimene’s, adores this conqueror.

A sorry lover, how can I be resigned?

Leonor By keeping your noble rank in mind;

Heaven owes you a king, you love a subject!

Infanta My inclination has changed its object.

I no longer love Rodrigue the gentleman;

No my love names him to another plan;

If I love, I love he who wrought fine things,

The valorous Cid who has mastered kings.

Yet I’ll draw back, not from fear of blame,

But so as not to harm their loving flame;

And when to oblige me he is crowned,

The gift I gave shall never be disowned.

Since his victory in this duel is certain,

Let me grant him to Chimene again.

And you who know my suffering spirit,

Will see me end this thing as I began it.

Act V Scene IV (Chimene, Elvire)

Chimene Elvire, how I suffer! Pity me here!

I have no hope, and everything to fear;

No prayer escapes to which I can consent;

Of every wish I form I soon repent.

Two rivals now will duel for me as prize:

Yet the happiest end will fuel my sighs;

Whatever fate determines in my honour

I fail my father, or I lose my lover.

Elvire One way or the other, you’re satisfied,

You are avenged, or Rodrigue has not died;

And whatever destiny ordains for you

You’ve honour, glory and a husband too.

Chimene What! The object of my hate, or anger!

Rodrigue’s killer or that of my father!

In either case they will make me wed

One stained with the blood of my dear dead;

Against that fate I’ll fight with every breath:

I fear the quarrel’s ending worse than death.

Flee, Love and Vengeance, that so trouble me,

The price too great of your sweet victory;

And you, prime mover of my destiny,

In this duel, let none have mastery,

Let there be no loser and no winner.

Elvire Then you’ll be hurt in too harsh a manner.

This duel will yield you yet more distress,

If you’re forced to seek justice afresh,

Ever to nourish your noble anger,

And still seek the death of your lover.

Madame, better that his rare valour now,

Gains your silence, as it crowns his brow,

That this duel should stifle all your sighs,

And the King your heart’s hope yet realise.

Chimene You think if he’s the victor I’ll surrender?

My duty is too great, my loss is greater;

This duel, and the wishes of the King,

Will never bind me with their law-making.

He may conquer Sanche with little pain,

But not that honour sacred to Chimene.

Whatever the King may grant the victor

He makes a greater enemy of my honour.

Elvire Beware lest Heaven punishes your pride

And sees you avenged, though he has died.

What! You would deny the joy and sense

Of keeping an honourable silence?

What does duty then expect or hope for?

Will your lover’s death bring back your father?

Is one disaster not enough for you?

Must loss bring loss, grief bring grief, too?

Come, with such capricious obstinacy,

You merit neither love nor destiny;

Heaven’s just anger will see you wed

To Don Sanche when Rodrigue is dead.

Chimene Elvire, this suffering is enough for me,

Don’t multiply it with dread augury.

I wish to escape them both if I may;

If not, it’s for Rodrigue that I will pray:

Not because foolish passion so decides;

But because I’ll be Sanche’s if he dies.

This fear gives rise to my inclination…

(Don Sanche enters)

Ah, what do I see? Elvire, it is done.

Act V Scene V (Don Sanche, Chimene, Elvire)

Sanche Being forced to lay this blade before you…

Chimene What! And painted with Rodrigue’s blood too?

How do you dare to meet my gaze, traitor,

After slaying one who was your better?

Speak now, Love, you have no more to fear:

Cease to hide, this satisfies my father;

A single blow brings honour now to me,

My soul to despair, my love to liberty.

Sanche If you were calmer…

Chimene Still you speak, what more,

Vile murderer of that hero I adore!

Go, you were treacherous; the valiant

Could never yield to such an assailant.

Hope for nothing here, you did not serve me!

You stole my life, in seeking to avenge me.

Sanche This strange mistake, beyond comprehension…

Chimene Is it to your boasting I must listen?

And hear you paint with endless insolence

His woe, my crime, and your brave defence?

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

Chimene Sire, there’s no longer reason to conceal

What all my efforts were forced to reveal.

I loved: you know it; to avenge my father,

I was willing to condemn my lover:

Your Majesty, Sire, yourself could see

How my love was sacrificed to duty.

Rodrigue is dead, and his death changed me

To afflicted lover from implacable enemy.

Vengeance was owing to my father,

And now I owe tears to my lover.

Don Sanche caused me ill, in my defence,

And that ill-dealing arm I must recompense!

Sire, if compassion can sway a king,

I beg you to revoke your harsh ruling;

For what lost me my love, his victory,

I leave him my fortune; if he’ll forgo me;

That I may weep in some sacred cloister,

To my last breath, for father and for lover.

Diegue She still loves, Sire, and thinks it no crime

To confess a love so true, to you, at this time.

King Chimene, you are wrong, your lover is not dead,

Sanche, the vanquished, spoke falsely instead.

Sanche Her ardour deceived her, in spite of me:

I left the fight, Sire, to recount it swiftly.

The noble warrior, who has claimed her,

Said when he disarmed me: ‘Have no fear.

I would rather leave the outcome uncertain,

Than shed blood placed at risk for Chimene;

But since duty summons me to the King

Go tell her for me of our undertaking,

Take your sword on behalf of the victor.’

Sire, I went: the blade itself deceived her;

She thought me the victor seeing me there,

And betrayed her love in her swift anger

With so much agitation and impatience,

I could not gain a moment’s audience.

For myself, though conquered I’m content;

And despite my own amorous intent,

And infinite loss, I welcome my defeat,

Rendering a perfect love thus complete.

King My daughter, be not ashamed of this love,

Nor seek the means its power to disprove;

An honourable shame urges you in vain;

Your duty is done, your honour true again;

Your father’s satisfied, as his avenger

You have so often placed his life in danger.

Yet you see Heaven wishes something else.

Having worked for others, act now for yourself,

And do not struggle against my command,

That will grant you a beloved husband.

Act V Scene VII (King, Diegue, Arias, Rodrigue, Alonso, Sanche, Infanta, Chimene, Leonor, Elvire)

Infanta Dry your tears, Chimene, and free of sadness

Receive him from the hands of your princess.

Rodrigue Be not offended if in your presence, Sire,

Loving respect makes me kneel before her.

I have not come here to demand my prize:

I have come, once more, to offer you my life,

Madame; my love employs in its own cause

Neither King’s will, nor customary laws.

If what is done was too little for a father,

What will it take to satisfy you more?

Must I battle with a thousand rivals,

To the earth’s ends extend my labours,

Attack a camp alone, or rout an army,

Exceed the fame of heroes legendary?

If my crime can thus be washed away,

I’ll undertake whatever deed today:

But if proud honour, all inexorable,

To be appeased, must slay the criminal,

Do not seek to use man’s power against me:

Avenge yourself, my head bows at your feet;

Your hands must conquer the invincible;

Take that vengeance others find impossible;

But let my death suffice to punish me.

Do not banish me from your memory,

And say sometimes, in pitying my life:

‘If he’d not loved me, he’d not have died.’

Chimene Rise Rodrigue. Sire, know this for a fact,

I have gone too far to wish to retract.

Rodrigue has virtues that I cannot hate:

And when a King commands, we must obey.

But, regardless of your previous ruling,

Can you endure to see such a wedding?

And if as a duty you wish to view it,

Is royal justice in accord with it?

If Rodrigue is essential to the State,

Must I pay for the workings of fate.

Expose myself to this reproach, eternal,

Of having bathed my hands in blood paternal?

King Often enough time makes legitimate

What, at first sight, seems illegitimate.

Rodrigue has won you, and you are his.

But though today valour deserves this,

I would prove an enemy to your honour

To grant him now the prize of his valour.

A marriage deferred does not affect the laws

That, regardless of time, make him yours.

Take a year, if you would, to dry your tears.

Rodrigue, arm yourself, among your peers.

After driving the Moors from our coast,

Marring their plans, answering their boast,

Go, wage war on them in their own country,

Command my army, ravage the enemy.

As the Cid you have them trembling;

They called you lord, shall know you as their king.

Though great your deeds stay ever faithful;

Return more worthy of her if possible,

And in all your exploits prove so true,

It will be bliss to her to marry you.

Rodrigue To possess Chimene, and do you service,

What will my weapons not accomplish?

Whatever absence from her must endure,

Sire, it is yet happiness to hope for more.

King Take hope then from courage, and my promise;

You now possess the heart of your mistress,

To meet this point of honour, yet arising,

Rely on time, your valour, and your king.

The End