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   Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations.  1989.
 
 
NUMBER:656
AUTHOR:Edmond Rostand (1868–1918)
QUOTATION:What would you have me do?
Search out some powerful patronage, and be
Like crawling ivy clinging to a tree?
No thank you. Dedicate, like all the others,
Verses to plutocrats, while caution smothers
Whatever might offend my lord and master?
No thank you. Kneel until my knee-caps fester,
Bend my back until I crack my spine,
And scratch another’s back if he’ll scratch mine?
No thank you. Dining out to curry favour,
Meeting the influential till I slaver,
Suiting my style to what the critics want
With slavish copy of the latest cant?
No thanks! Ready to jump through any hoop
To be the great man of a little group?
Be blown off course, with madrigals for sails,
By the old women sighing through their veils?
Labouring to write a line of such good breeding
Its only fault is—that it’s not worth reading?
To ingratiate myself, abject with fear,
And fawn and flatter to avoid a sneer?
No thanks, no thanks, no thanks! But … just to sing,
Dream, laugh, and take my tilt of wing,
To cock a snook whenever I shall choose,
To fight for “yes” and “no”, come win or lose,
To travel without thought of fame or fortune
Wherever I care to go to under the moon!
Never to write a line that hasn’t come
Directly from my heart: and so, with some
Modesty, to tell myself: “My boy,
Be satisfied with a flower, a fruit, the joy
Of a single leaf, so long as it was grown
In your own garden. Then, if success is won
By any chance, you have nothing to render to
A hollow Caesar: the merit belongs to you.”
In short, I won’t be a parasite; I’ll be
My own intention, stand alone and free,
And suit my voice to what my own eyes see!
ATTRIBUTION:EDMOND ROSTAND, Cyrano de Bergerac, act II, trans. Christopher Fry, pp. 56–57 (1975). Originally published in 1897.

  This is Cyrano’s declaration of independence.
SUBJECTS:Freedom
 
 
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