A monologue from the play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Eight Dramas of Calderon. Trans. Edward Fitzgerald. London: Macmillan & Co., 1906.
  • CESAR: Oh, Don Arias,
    I kiss his Highness' feet, and your kind hands
    That bring his favours to me: and to each
    Will answer separately. First, to him;--
    Tell him I daily pray that Heav'n so keep
    His life, that Time, on which his years are strung,
    Forget the running count; and, secondly,
    Assure him, Arias, the melancholy
    He speaks of not a jot abates my love
    Of him, nor my alacrity in his service;
    Nay, that 'tis nothing but a little cloud
    In which my books have wrapt me so of late
    That, duty done, I scarce had time or spirit
    Left to enjoy his gracious company:
    Perhaps too, lest he surfeit of my love,
    I might desire by timely abstinence
    To whet his liking to a newer edge.
    Thus much for him. For you, Don Arias,
    Whose equal friendship claims to be repaid
    In other coin, I will reveal to you
    A secret scarcely to myself confest,
    Which yet scarce needs your thanks, come at a moment
    When my brimm'd heart had overflow'd in words,
    Whether I would or no. Oh, Arias,
    Wonder not then to see me in a moment
    Flying from melancholy to mere joy,
    Between whose poles he ever oscillates,
    Whose heart is set in the same sphere with mine:
    Which saying, all is said. I love, my friend;
    How deeply, let this very reticence,
    That dare not tell what most I feel, declare.
    Yes, I have fixt my eyes upon a star;
    Toward which to spread my wings ev'n against hope,
    Argues a kind of honour. I aspired,
    And (let not such a boast offend the ears,
    That of themselves have open'd to my story,)
    Not hopelessly: the heav'n to which I pray'd
    Answer'd in only listening to my vows;
    Such daring not defeated not disdain'd.
    Two years I worshipp'd at a shrine of beauty,
    That modesty's cold hand kept stainless still;
    Till wearied, if not moved by endless prayers,
    She grants them; yea, on this most blessed day,
    With this thrice blessed letter. You may see it,
    That your felicitations be rebound
    Double my own; the first victorious trophy
    That proud ambition has so humbly won.
    Oh Arias, 'tis much I have to tell,
    And tell you too at once; being none of those
    Who overmuch entreaty make the price
    Of their unbosoming; who would, if they knew
    In what the honour of their lady lies,
    Name her at once, or seal their lips for ever.
    But you are trusty and discreet: to you
    I may commit my heart; beseeching you
    To keep this love-song to yourself alone,
    Assigning to the Prince, remember this,
    My books sole cause of my abstraction.
    Donna Anna de Castelvi--
    (I can go on more freely now the name
    Of her I worship bars my lips no more,)
    Is she who so divides me from myself,
    That what I say I scarcely know, although
    I say but what I feel; the melancholy
    You ask about, no gloomy sequestration
    Out of the common world into a darker,
    But into one a thousand times more bright;
    And let no man believe he truly loves,
    Who lives, or moves, or thinks, or hath his being
    In any other atmosphere than Love's,
    Who is our absolute master; to recount
    The endless bead-roll of whose smiles and tears
    I'd have each sleepless night a century,
    Much have I said--have much more yet to say!
    But read her letter, Arias, the first seal
    Of my success, the final one, I think,
    Of my sure trust in you; come, share with me
    My joy, my glory, my anxiety;
    And above all things, once more, Arias,
    Down to your secret'st heart this secret slip;
    For every secret hangs in greater fear
    Between the speaker's mouth and hearer's ear
    Than any peril between cup and lip.