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.
  • CIPRIANO: Oh, mad, mad, mad ambition! to the skies
    Lifting to drop me deep as Hades down!--
    What! Cipriano--what the once so wise
    Cipriano--quit his wonted exercise
    Among the sober walks of old renown,
    To fly at love--to swell the wind with sighs
    Vainer than learning--doff the scholar's gown
    For cap and feather, and such airy guise
    In which triumphant love is wont to go,
    But wins less acceptation in her eyes--
    The only eyes in which I cared to show--
    My heart beneath the borrow'd feather bleeding--
    Than in the sable suit of long ago,
    When heart-whole for another's passion pleading.
    She loves not Floro--loves not Lelio,
    Whose quarrel sets the city's throat agape,
    And turns her reputation to reproof
    With altercation of some disky shape
    Haunting the twilight underneath her roof--
    Which each believes the other:--and, for me,
    The guilty one of the distracted three,
    She closest veils herself, or waves aloof
    In scorn; or in such self-abasement sweet
    As sinks me deep and deeper at her feet,
    Bids me return--return for very shame
    Back to my proper studies and good name,
    Nor waste a life on one who, let me pine
    To death, will never but in death be mine.
    Oh, she says well--Oh, heart of stone and ice
    Unworthy of the single sacrifice
    Of one true heart's devotion! Oh divine
    Creature, whom all the glory and the worth
    That ever ravaged or redeem'd the earth
    Were scanty worship offer'd at your shrine!
    Oh Cipriano, master-fool of all
    The fools that unto thee for wisdom call;
    Of supercilious Pallas first the mock,
    And now blind Cupid's scorn, and laughing-stock;
    Who in fantastic arrogance at odds
    With the Pantheon of your people's gods
    Ransack'd the heavens for one more pure and whole
    To fill the empty temple of the soul,
    Now caught by retribution in the mesh
    Of one poor piece of perishable flesh--
    What baser demon of the pit would buy
    With all your ruin'd aspirations?