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  • The Troubadour

The Spirit of a Romantic: Cyrano de Bergerac's No Thank You Speech

Updated: Dec 18, 2018

What would you have me do?

Seek for the patronage of some great man,

And like a creeping vine on a tall tree

Crawl upward, where I cannot stand alone?

No thank you! Dedicate, as others do,

Poems to pawnbrokers? Be a buffoon

In the vile hope of teasing out a smile

On some cold face? No thank you! Eat a toad

For breakfast every morning? Make my knees

Callous, and cultivate a supple spine,—

Wear out my belly groveling in the dust?

No thank you! Scratch the back of any swine

That roots up gold for me? Tickle the horns

Of Mammon with my left hand, while my right

Too proud to know his partner's business,

Takes in the fee? No thank you! Use the fire

God gave me to burn incense all day long

Under the nose of wood and stone? No thank you!

Shall I go leaping into ladies' laps

And licking fingers?—or—to change the form—

Navigating with madrigals for oars,

My sails full of the sighs of dowagers?

No thank you! Publish verses at my own

Expense? No thank you! Be the patron saint

Of a small group of literary souls

Who dine together every Tuesday? No

I thank you! Shall I labor night and day

to Build a reputation on one song,

And never write another? Shall I find

True genius only among Geniuses,

Palpitate over little paragraphs,

and struggle to insinuate my name

In the columns of the Mercury?

No thank you! Calculate, scheme, be afraid,

Love more to make a visit than a poem,

Seek introductions, favors, influences?—

No thank you! No, I thank you! And again

I thank you!—But...

To sing, to laugh, to dream

To walk in my own way and be alone,

Free, with an eye to see things as they are,

A voice that means manhood—to cock my hat

Where I choose—At a word, a Yes, a No,

To fight—or write. To travel any road

Under the sun, under the stars, nor doubt

If fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne—

Never to make a line I have not heard

In my own heart; yet, with all modesty

To say: "My soul, be satisfied with flowers,

With fruit, with weeds even; but gather them

In the garden you may call your own."

So, when I win some triumph, by some chance,

Render no share to caesar—in a word,

I am too proud to be a parasite,

And if my nature wants the germ that grows

Towering to heaven like a mountain pine,

Or like the oak, sheltering multitudes—

I stand, not high it may be—but alone!

#romantic