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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Cyprian’s Bargain
By Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–1681)
 
        
From ‘The Wonderful Magician’: Translation of Percy Bysshe Shelley
  
  [The Demon, angered by Cyprian’s victory in defending the existence of God, swears vengeance. He resolves that Cyprian shall lose his soul for Justina, who rejects his love. Cyprian says:—]

SO bitter is the life I live,
  That, hear me hell, I now would give
To thy most detested spirit
My soul forever to inherit,
To suffer punishment and pine,        5
So this woman may be mine.  
[The Demon accepts his soul and hastens to Justina.
  Justina—’Tis that enamored nightingale
  Who gives me the reply:
He ever tells the same soft tale
  Of passion and of constancy        10
To his mate, who, rapt and fond,
Listening sits, a bough beyond.
 
Be silent, Nightingale!—No more
  Make me think, in hearing thee
Thus tenderly thy love deplore,        15
    If a bird can feel his so,
  What a man would feel for me.
    And, voluptuous vine, O thou
Who seekest most when least pursuing,—
  To the trunk thou interlacest        20
  Art the verdure which embracest
And the weight which is its ruin,—
  No more, with green embraces, vine,
Make me think on what thou lovest;
  For while thou thus thy boughs entwine,        25
I fear lest thou shouldst teach me, sophist,
  How arms might be entangled too.
Light-enchanted sunflower, thou
Who gazest ever true and tender
On the sun’s revolving splendor,        30
Follow not his faithless glance
With thy faded countenance,
Nor teach my beating heart to fear
If leaves can mourn without a tear,
How eyes must weep! O Nightingale,        35
Cease from thy enamored tale,—
Leafy vine, unwreath thy bower,
  Restless sunflower, cease to move—
Or tell me all, what poisonous power
  Ye use against me—
  All—                        Love! love! love!
        40
  Justina—It cannot be!—Whom have I ever loved?
Trophies of my oblivion and disdain,
Floro and Lelio did I not reject?
And Cyprian?—  [She becomes troubled at the name of Cyprian.
                Did I not requite him
With such severity that he has fled        45
Where none has ever heard of him again?—
Alas! I now begin to fear that this
May be the occasion whence desire grows bold,
As if there were no danger. From the moment
That I pronounced to my own listening heart,        50
“Cyprian is absent, O miserable me!”
I know not what I feel!  [More calmly.
                    It must be pity,
To think that such a man, whom all the world
Admired, should be forgot by all the world,
And I the cause.  [She again becomes troubled.
                And yet if it were pity,
        55
Floro and Lelio might have equal share,
For they are both imprisoned for my sake.  [Calmly.
Alas! what reasonings are these? It is
Enough I pity him, and that in vain,
Without this ceremonious subtlety,        60
And woe is me! I know not where to find him now,
Even should I seek him through this wide world!
 
Enter Demon.
  Demon—Follow, and I will lead thee where he is.
  Justina—And who art thou, who hast found entrance hither
Into my chamber through the doors and locks?        65
Art thou a monstrous shadow which my madness
Has formed in the idle air?
  Demon—                            No. I am one
Called by the thought which tyrannizes thee
From his eternal dwelling—who this day
Is pledged to bear thee unto Cyprian.        70
  Justina—So shall thy promise fail. This agony
Of passion which afflicts my heart and soul
May sweep imagination in its storm,—
The will is firm.
  Demon—                    Already half is done
In the imagination of an act.        75
The sin incurred, the pleasure then remains:
Let not the will stop half-way on the road.
  Justina—I will not be discouraged, nor despair,
Although I thought it, and although ’tis true
That thought is but a prelude to the deed:        80
Thought is not in my power, but action is:
I will not move my foot to follow thee!
  Demon——But a far mightier wisdom than thine own
Exerts itself within thee, with such power
Compelling thee to that which it inclines        85
That it shall force thy step; how wilt thou then
Resist, Justina?
  Justina—                By my free will.
  Demon—                            I
Must force thy will.
  Justina—                    It is invincible;
It were not free if thou hadst power upon it.  [He draws, but cannot move her.
  Demon—Come, where a pleasure waits thee.
  Justina—                            It were bought
        90
Too dear.
  Demon—            ’Twill soothe thy heart to softest peace.
  Justina—’Tis dread captivity.
  Demon—                    ’Tis joy, ’tis glory.
  Justina—’Tis shame, ’tis torment, ’tis despair.
  Demon—                            But how
Canst thou defend thyself from that or me,
If my power drags thee onward?
  Justina—                            My defense
        95
Consists in God.  [He vainly endeavors to force her, and at last releases her.
  Demon—        Woman, thou hast subdued me
Only by not owning thyself subdued.
But since thou thus findest defense in God,
I will assume a feignèd form, and thus
Make thee a victim of my baffled rage.        100
For I will mask a spirit in thy form
Who will betray thy name to infamy,
And doubly shall I triumph in thy loss,
First by dishonoring thee, and then by turning
False pleasure to true ignominy.  [Exit
  Justina—                            I
        105
Appeal to Heaven against thee; so that Heaven
May scatter thy delusions, and the blot
Upon my fame vanish in idle thought,
Even as flame dies in the envious air,
And as the flow’ret wanes at morning frost,        110
And thou shouldst never—But alas! to whom
Do I still speak?—Did not a man but now
Stand here before me?—No, I am alone,
And yet I saw him. Is he gone so quickly?
Or can the heated mind engender shapes        115
From its own fear? Some terrible and strange
Peril is near. Lisander! father! lord!
Livia!—
 
Enter Lisander and Livia.
  Lisander—O my daughter! what?
  Livia—                        What?
  Justina—                            Saw you
A man go forth from my apartment now?—        120
I scarce sustain myself!
Lisander—                    A man here!
  Justina—Have you not seen him?
  Livia—                    No, lady.
  Justina—I saw him.
Lisander—            ’Tis impossible; the doors
Which led to this apartment were all locked.
  Livia  [aside]—I dare say it was Moscon whom she saw,        125
For he was locked up in my room.
  Lisander—                            It must
Have been some image of thy phantasy.
Such melancholy as thou feedest is
Skillful in forming such in the vain air
Out of the motes and atoms of the day.        130
  Livia—My master’s in the right.
  Justina—                        Oh, would it were
Delusion; but I fear some greater ill.
I feel as if out of my bleeding bosom
My heart was torn in fragments; ay,
Some mortal spell is wrought against my frame.        135
So potent was the charm, that had not God
Shielded my humble innocence from wrong,
I should have sought my sorrow and my shame
With willing steps. Livia, quick, bring my cloak,
For I must seek refuge from these extremes        140
Even in the temple of the highest God
Which secretly the faithful worship.
  Livia—                            Here.
  Justina  [putting on her cloak]—In this, as in a shroud of snow, may I
Quench the consuming fire in which I burn,
Wasting away!
  Lisander—                And I will go with thee!
        145
  Livia  [aside]—When I once see them safe out of the house,
I shall breathe freely.
  Justina—                    So do I confide
In thy just favor, Heaven!
  Lisander—                        Let us go.
  Justina—Thine is the cause, great God! Turn, for my sake
And for thine own, mercifully to me!        150
 
 
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