Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Edmond Rostand (18681918)
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 anothers back if hell 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 isthat its 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 hasnt 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 wont be a parasite; Ill be My own intention, stand alone and free, And suit my voice to what my own eyes see!
EDMOND ROSTAND, Cyrano de Bergerac, act II, trans. Christopher Fry, pp. 5657 (1975). Originally published in 1897.