I first heard about Cyrano from an ALF episode called Standing in the Shadows of Love, in which Jake Ochmonek has a crush on a girl in school but is too afraid to tell her and agrees to let ALF write a love letter on his behalf. Willie introduces ALF to the play Cyrano de Bergerac, about a man named Christian who wishes to court the beautiful Roxane but lacks verbal eloquence.
Cyrano, who is hopelessly in love with Roxane but will never speak to her about it due to a binding complex about his very large nose, serenades her with dialogue posing as Christian, from within the dark outside her window. He loves Roxane so much that this it is enough for him to confess his love, even as not his own.
In recent years I found the play in a bookstore. I read it to find out how much more full of wit and full of sorrow and how much lovelier it was than I had known. The version of Cyrano de Bergerac I read is a play by French poet Edmond Rostand published in 1897, and translated into English by poet Louis Untermeyer.
The following is a verse from when Cyrano is speaking his love to Roxane under the guise of Christian:
Roxane: But wit—?
Cyrano: It turns frank passion into foolish fencing.
Besides, the moment comes—and pity those
For whom it never comes—when love resents
Clever ripostes and nimble repartee,
Instead of what is deeply felt and nobly told.
Roxane: And if that moment has arrived—is here
For both os us—what words would you employ?
Cyrano: All words, all thoughts, all natural flowers of speech!
I’d throw them all together as they come—
Not in a carefully arranged bouquet.
I love you—and I suffocate with love.
I love you—I am mad—It is too much!
Your name is like a bell hung in my heart;
And every time I think of you, Roxane,
I tremble and the swinging bell rings out!
Nothing about you is forgot, for I
Love every little memory of you.
One day last year—it was the twelfth of May—
You changed the way you wore your hair. Your hair
Was like the radiant light of day to me—
I was like one who dared to look upon
The mid-day sun. So, after you passed by,
All things my eyes could see were washed with gold.
—Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand