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Psyche   By: (1622-1673)

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First Page:

PSYCHE.

by

MOLIÈRE

Translated into English Prose.

With Short Introductions and Explanatory Notes.

by

CHARLES HERON WALL

'Psyche' is a tragédie ballet . Molière had sketched the plan, written the prologue, the first act, and the first scenes of the second and third acts, when the King asked him to have the play finished before Lent. Pierre Corneille, then sixty years old, helped him, and wrote the other scenes in a fortnight. Quinault wrote the words of the songs.

Molière acted the part of Zephyr.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

JUPITER. VENUS. LOVE. ZEPHYR. AEGIALE and PHAËNE, two Graces . THE KING. PSYCHE. AGLAURA. CIDIPPE. CLEOMENES and AGENOR, two princes , PSYCHE'S lovers . LYCAS, captain of the guards . A RIVER GOD TWO CUPIDS.

PROLOGUE.

The front of the stage represents a rustic spot, while at the back the sea can be seen in the distance.

SCENE I.

FLORA appears in the centre of the stage, attended by VERTUMNUS, god of trees and fruit, and by PALEMON, god of the streams. Each of these gods conducts a troup of divinities; one leads in his train DRYADS and SYLVANS, and the other RIVER GODS and NAIADS.

FLORA sings the following lines, to invite VENUS to descend upon earth :

FLORA.

The din of battle is stayed; The mightiest king of earth His arms aside has laid; Of peace 'tis now the birth! Descend thou, lovely Venus, And blissful hours grant us!

VERTUMNUS and PALEMON, and the divinities who attend them, join their voices to that of FLORA, and sing the following words .

CHORUS OF DIVINITIES of the earth and streams, composed of FLORA, NYMPHS, PALEMON, VERTUMNUS, SYLVANS, FAUNS, DRYADS, and NAIADS.

A peace profound we now enjoy, And games and bliss without alloy; Earth's mightiest king has giv'n us rest; To him be praise and thanks addrest. Descend thou, lovely Venus, And happy hours grant us!

Then is formed an entry of the ballet, composed of two DRYADS, four SYLVANS, two RIVER GODS, and two NAIADS, after which VERTUMNUS and PALEMON sing the following dialogue :

VERTUMNUS. Yield, yield, ye beauties stern, To sigh 'tis now your turn!

PALEMON. See you, the queen above, She comes to breathe soft love!

VERTUMNUS. A fair one stern for aye Ne'er wins a faithful sigh!

PALEMON. To woo has beauty arms, But gentleness has greater charms.

BOTH ( together ). To woo has beauty arms; But gentleness has greater charms.

VERTUMNUS. Seek not your hearts to shield; To pine is law, and ye must yield.

PALEMON. Is aught more worthless born Than hearts that love will scorn?

VERTUMNUS. A fair one stern, for aye Ne'er wins a faithful sigh!

PALEMON. To woo has beauty arms, But gentleness has greater charms.

BOTH ( together ). To woo has beauty arms, But gentleness has greater charms.

FLORA answers the dialogue of VERTUMNUS and PALEMON by the following minuet, and the other divinities join their dances to the song.

Does wisdom say, In youth's heyday, Sweet love forego? Be up, in haste These pleasures taste Of earth below.

Youth's wisdom too Is love to woo, And love to know. If love disarms, It is by charms; So yield your arms.

'Twere madness 'gainst his darts To seek to shield your hearts. Whate'er the bond Of lover fond, 'Tis sweeter chain Than freedom's gain.

VENUS descends from heaven, attended by CUPID, her son, and two Graces, called AEGIALE and PHAËNE; and the divinities of the earth and the streams once more unite their songs, and continue by their dances to show their joy at her approach.

CHORUS of all the Divinities of the earth and the streams.

A peace profound we now enjoy, And games and bliss without alloy; Earth's mightiest king has giv'n us rest; To him be praise and thanks addrest. Descend thou, lovely Venus, And happy hours grant us.

VEN. ( in her chariot ). Cease, cease, all your songs of joy. Such rare honours do not belong to me, and the homage which in your consideration you now pay me ought to be reserved for lovelier charms... Continue reading book >>






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