"Cyrano de Bergerac" Quotes

Excerpts from Edmond Rostand's Classic Play about Love, War and Loss

A 2017 production of Cyrano de Bergerac in New York

Jack Vartoogian / Getty Images

Cyrano de Bergerac is the most famous play by Edmond Rostand, written in 1897. The work is about Cyrano, a marvelous character based on a real person, who is witty, passionate and full of vitality. He is known for his big nose, which becomes a problem when he falls in love with his beautiful cousin, Roxane. Reading the play or seeing the production fills the audience's minds with iconic quotations.

Act One

  • "What if she turns out to be a prude--or an intellectual? I wouldn't dare speak to her, I don't have the brains. The way people speak and write nowadays makes my head hurt. I'm just an honest, simple, terrified soldier."
  • "He's famous for his long--sword."
  • "Cyrano de Bergerac, that specter, that paragon,
    That terror of trifles from Norway to Aragon,
    Both genius and monster, unique, unexplainable,
    He has every quirk and every virtue obtainable.
    His clothes? As outlandish as his personality--
    Three huge plumes for his hat--'To hell with frugality!'
    Bizarrest of all the birds hatched out of Gascony-
    Is your cause a lost one? You've only to ask and he
    Will rush to defend you with wit and audacity,
    With valor beyond mankind's normal capacity,
    This dreamer whose vigor, whose kindness, whose verity
    Are great as his nose--God forgive my temerity!--
    But truly that nose is the glorious cross he bears,
    Like some raging sardonic demon's emboss he wears.
    I've heard strangers cry, 'Wait--and we'll see it taken off!'
    But that man's nasal destiny cannot be shaken off!"
  • "Swine! Did I not forbid you to appear?!"
  • "My nose is Gargantuan! You little Pig-snout, you tiny Monkey-Nostrils, you virtually invisible Pekinese-Puss, don't you realize that a nose like mine is both scepter and orb, a monument to me superiority? A great nose is the banner of a great man, a generous heart, a towering spirit, an expansive soul--such as I unmistakably am, and such as you dare not to dream of being, with your bilious weasel's eyes and no nose to keep them apart! With your face as lacking in all distinction--as lacking, I say, in interest, as lacking in pride, in imagination, in honesty, in lyricism--in a word, as lacking in nose as that other offensively bland expanse at the opposite end of your cringing spine--which I now remove from my sight by stringent application of my boot!"
  • "My wit is more polished than your mustache. The truth which I speak strikes more sparks from men's hearts than your spurs do from the cobblestones."
  • "Thus I toss my poor hat aside,
    And shrug off my threadbare cape,
    The crowd's eyes are open wide
    And many a mouth is agape,
    As I take my sword by the nape
    And draw out its form so fine
    From which there is no escape,
    For tonight, Valvert--you are mine!
    Too bad that you chose to deride
    This vicious old Bergerac ape
    (My teeth are as hard as my hide),
    Yet when you are dead I will drape
    Your corpse with the finest of crepe,
    So that all know your taste was 'divine,'
    Though you should have avoided a scrape
    With the master--for now, you are mine!
    I must find now a sharp rhyme for 'pride'--
    You're panting, you're red as a grape!
    Is that ardor or terror inside?
    What began as a lark, as a jape,
    Now concludes with a rout, with a rape,
    With your virginal courage supine,
    As a puddle on honor's landscape-
    Turn around, little girl--you are mine!"
  • "It's a shame, sir, to alter a shape
    As refined, as expensive as thine,
    But, to spare you life's endless red tape,
    I will edit you--There you are mine!"
  • "I know. I outnumber them, but I shall go gently with them at first."
  • "Does it seem strange: a hundred cutthroats against one poor poet? It is not strange. It is a minimal defense, mademoiselle--(Drawing his sword; quietly.)--when that poet is a friend of Cyrano de Bergerac."

Act Two

  • "You're a genuinely good man. There aren't many of you left."
  • "His face is like yours, burning with spirit and imagination. He is proud and noble and young and fearless and beautiful--"
  • "(Hand on the hilt of his sword.) I shall mortalize the lot of you!"
  • "I would die at the stake rather than change a semi-colon!"
  • "Do they? Those large empty machines which twist and turn in every gust of fashion?"
  • "Beware: they can gather you easily in their lofty arms and hurl you down to the gutter!"
  • "It is addressed to the bravest, the brainiest, the blondest, the most beautiful woman on earth! How could she think it was meant for anyone but her?"

Act Three

  • "You're not totally immune to me, are you? (Roxane smiles cryptically.) Why else would you concoct such a delicious revenge? It must be a gesture of love."
  • "Yes, it is perfect. Your white gown swathed in the blue-black mantle of night. I am only a voice, and you are a point of light. I may have spoken Beautifully to you in the past--"
  • "Through the whirlwind which your eyes stir up inside me. But now, in this blessed darkness, I feel I am speaking to you for the first time."
  • "And what is a kiss, specifically? A pledge properly sealed, a promise seasoned to taste, a vow stamped with the immediacy of a lip, a rosy circle drawn around the verb 'to love.' A kiss is a message too intimate for the ear, infinity captured in the bee's brief visit to a flower, secular communication with an aftertaste of heaven, the pulse rising from the heart to utter its name on a lover's lip: 'Forever.'"
  • "God's whiskers! Your face is hideous as the demon's in my storybook!"

Act Four

  • "There. There is our soul. The same reed, the same fingers which have piped us into combat, call us softly home, in our thoughts. This is no longer the shrill call to attack, it is every shepherd who ever inhabited our land, whispering his sheep to fold. Listen. It is your hillside, your earth, your forest--your younger brother, suntanned under his red woolen cap. It is the green solitude of nights you spent beside the Sordogne. Listen my countrymen. It is our country calling."
  • "You saved your life. At the expense of your honor."
  • "From the King of Kings--Love"
  • "Oh, don't take it so hard. I drove into this madness. Every woman needs a little madness in her life."
  • "Remarkable. You're as casual about death as if it were the theatre."
  • "She said, 'If you were ugly, I would only love you more.'"

Act Five

  • "How obvious it is now--the gift you gave him. All those letters, they were you... All those beautiful powerful words, they were you!... The voice from the shadows, that was you... You always loved me!"
  • "Ragueneau: Oh, my colleague - we laughed - we laughed-! Cyrano: Well, my greatest victories were won under an assumed name."
  • "Cyrano: I know, you will leave me with nothing--neither the laurel nor the rose. Take it all then! There is one possession I take with me from this place. Tonight when I stand before God--and bow low to him, so that my forehead brushes his footstool, the firmament--I will stand again and proudly show Him that one pure possession--which I have never ceased to cherish or to share with all--"
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Lombardi, Esther. ""Cyrano de Bergerac" Quotes." ThoughtCo, Jun. 13, 2021, thoughtco.com/cyrano-de-bergerac-quotes-739417. Lombardi, Esther. (2021, June 13). "Cyrano de Bergerac" Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/cyrano-de-bergerac-quotes-739417 Lombardi, Esther. ""Cyrano de Bergerac" Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/cyrano-de-bergerac-quotes-739417 (accessed July 27, 2021).