Le Jongleur de Notre Dame

The Juggler of Notre Dame

Act Three

[ Act: I | II | III ]


(In the Chapel of the Abbey.  In plain sight, on the altar, the painted
statue of the Virgin.  The chapel is so disposed that, from the sides,
one see Jean without his perceiving those who observe him.)

(In the distance the monks sing the hymn to the Virgin.  The Painter Monk
is alone in front of the statue.)

        The Painter Monk.
One look, the last, at my work, at
        my Virgin...
The chant is faint and dies... in the
        silence where sleeps
The still flame of the tapers,
For her painter, jealous, she is finer
...One enters.-- ‘Tis... Why all this

                (He hides behind a column.)

(Entrance of Jean, still in his monk's robe, carrying his lute and
juggler's paraphernalia.  He enters on tip-toe, looking about him

No one...Come, courage!
None, at this hour, comes any
                (Approaching the altar.)
Adorable mother of Jesus,
White sovereign,
Here am I alone before you...
Trembling, my heart full of love
        and trouble.
I fall at your knees...
Listen to my prayer:
Alas, poor Jean is naught but a vile
Yet let him, in his humble manner,
Work under your eyes, oh Virgin,
        in your honor.

(Taking off his monk's robe, he appears in the vest of a juggler, spreads
his carpet and, seizing his lute, draws from it the tones that announced
his arrival at the Square of Cluny.)

        The Painter Monk.

He gets mad.  I run to warn the Prior.
                (He goes out hastily.)

I begin.
        * * * * * * 
                (He bows to the Virgin.)

Room, make room, silence!
Listen to Jean, I am the King of jugglers.
        * * * * * * 
(Carried away by habit, he goes around, cup in hand, a circle of
imaginary spectators.)

But in my cup first
A few pennies...

(Stopping, confused, to the Virgin.)

‘Twas my habit!  Forgive me.

                (Resuming his jollying.)

To please you,
I sing a song of war.
"It is fine to see these men at arms
When in saddle accoutred;
It is fine to see these arms
Under the golden standards.
To gain glory and fine land
Between us, gentle companions,
Let us follow war!"

        Jean (aside).

But all this noise frightens the

                (Addressing the Virgin simply.)

You prefer, perhaps,
The Romance of Love?

(He starts the romance known at that epoch.)

"Pretty Doette at her window..."

                (Memory fails him; aside.)

I forget it.

                (Beginning another.)

"Pretty Erembourg
On the highest tower..."

                (Memory fails him again.)

Oh treacherous memory...
Well then, back again, stupid
To the eternal
Of Robin and Marion
To the ear of the pretty shrubbery
Sing little nightingale--
Marion, proper country wench,
        Always thinks
        Of her loves.

Haps to pass proud in armour
Sing little nightingale--
A horseman of fine mien.
        "I am the King.
        Be all to me."
"No, dear Lord, I will stay good,
Sing, little nightingale--
With my hut and my cheese
        I belong to Robin,
        I love Robin."
             Aé!  Aé!

(While Jean sings the Pastoral, the Prior, led by the Painter monk,
arrives with Boniface.  Jean cannot see them; they observe the play of
the juggler.  Several times, the Prior scandalized, wants to throw
himself on Jean but is held back by Boniface.)

        The Prior.

Less fury.
The end of the song.
Catholicly marries
The girl to the boy.
                (All the monks enter.)

        (on the model of a quick jolly).

And now will you have turns at
Or something of sorcery?
Shall I in the flaming air
Evoke griffins and flying devils?

(Stopping, ashamed of this sacrilege to the Virgin.)

Forgive me, the force of habit!

(Getting nearer to the Virgin and in confidence.)

Between ourselves, I exaggerate!
But you know that a jolly
Is never absolutely
Attention! To finish the seance
I shall have the honor to dance
        before you.
                (With humility.)
Simply the dance we have at home.

        The Prior.
        (Ready to interfere).
Ah, I run...


        The Prior.
The dog returns to his vomit.


Before the ark danced King David.
I believe that David was no pagan.

(The juggler begins to dance a country step with taps of feet and cries
at intervals.  He dances faster and faster, until the moment when, out of
breath, he falls at the feet of the Virgin and prostrates himself in long
and profound adoration.)

(The monks aside, their anger contrasting with the juggler's dance.)

        The Monks.

        The Prior.


        The Monks.
Swine, covered with mud,
He wallows and mocks
In his impiety.
                (Dance of the Juggler.)

        The Prior.


        The Monks.
What insult...
To the Mother of Heaven!
Let us hunt him.
Vile work.
Hunt him from this holy place!

Pity, pity for him!

        The Prior.

        The Monks
Death to the impious!

(Furious, the monks are about to throw themselves on Jean. But Boniface,
by a gesture toward the statue of the Virgin, stops them.)

Get behind, all,
The Virgin protects him!
The picture... do you see... do you
With a strange light
It begins to shine...
A gentle glance is rising on the
        edge of the eyelid,
On the mouth a smile begins to be

        The Monks.
Oh, miracle!

        The Painter Monk
        (radiant with pride.) 
Oh Painting.


Ah, see... the white hand
Toward the juggler inclines with
        maternal gesture...
The delicate forehead, with love,
        bends down...

        The Monks.
Oh Painting!

                (Celestial voices are heard.)

Listen to the music of heaven.

        Voices of Invisible Angels.

Hosannah!  Glory to Jean.  Hosannah!
Glory, glory.
Glory in highest of Heaven.  Glory
        and serenity!
        Peace on Earth,
        To men of good will.

        The Monks.
Adorable mystery.

(The Prior followed by the monks approaches Jean, still at the feet of
the Virgin, lost in prayer.  Jean rises and turns about at the noise,
fearful at being surprised in his costume of juggler.)

It is the Prior!
                (falling on his knees.)

        The Prior.
‘Tis for me to be at your knees.
You are a great saint..  Pray, pray
        for us.

        The Monks.
Pray for us.

        (thinking they mock him).

No, do not mock me.  Punish me,
        my father.

        The Prior.

Mock you, punish you.
You, the honor of the monastery.

                (Pointing to the altar.)

When I see with my eyes the Virgin
        bless you!

        Jean (very simply).
I see nothing.

        The Monks.
Strange marvel!

        The Prior.

Teaching from heaven, lesson
        without equal,
Of candid virtue, of holy humility.

                (Addressing the Virgin.)

But yet, oh sovereign Virgin,
Mother of love and goodness,
To ease him of his trouble,
To the still closed eyes of your dear
Reveal yourself, divine and living

(The altar, hitherto dimly lighted, is illumined by an intense light. 
And detaching itself from the hands of the Virgin, the nimbus of the
chosen sparkles over the head of Jean.)

        The Monks.
Miracle!  Miracle!

        (as if stricken in the heart).

I die.

                (He faints in the arms of the Prior.)

        The Monks
        (falling on their knees).

Kyrie Elcison,
Christe exandi nos,
Sancta maria, ora pro nobis.

        (lifting himself, in simple and         
        tender tone).

At last I understand Latin.
                (He falls back.)

        Voices of Two Angels.

Caressed by the breeze of our
Smiling the juggler sleeps.
See before his humble zeal;
Open heaven's golden gate.
On the head nimbussed with light
Scatter your leaves, blue bells and
Amid incense and prayer,
Sow the flowers of paradise.

                (It rains blue bells and lilies.)

                (Cloud of incense.)

        The Monks
        (reciting litanies).
Mater purissima.
Mater castissima.
Mater inviolata.
Ora pro nobis.

(The Virgin begins to mount slowly to Heaven; we then see her surrounded
by angels, in the centre of Paradise.)

        (near death, in an ecstasy.)

Radiant spectacle!
I see heaven open!...
Divine perfumes... fresh whirring
        of wings...
With azure fields, flowered with
        colors new,
Under the eyes of Mary and the
        infant Jesus
I see pass the fraternal round
Of cherubim and the elect...
        * * * * * * 
The Virgin, with her hand, signs to
        me... I come...
What a gentle smile... oh! Her
        white hand...
        (with an ardent and radiant piety.)

Delivered from terrestrial bonds,
He flies to the happiness of an
        eternal Sunday...
No more sorrow, no more care...
He enters into the celestial circle...

I am here!...
                (He dies.)

        The Prior (reciting).
Happy are the simple, for they shall
        see God.

        Voices of the Angels.

        The Monks.

        THE END.

[ Act: I | II | III ]

translation © 1998 Jeffrey A. Klingfuss

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Monday, 08-Dec-2003 21:46:28 PST