So, Teodoro, you want to marry?
Yes, but only if you wish it.
For, my lady, you must believe
I really have not offended
Quite so far as some people say.
Envious tongues have a scorpion’s sting.
If Ovid had known, I dare say,
What it’s like to be in service,
I am sure he would have said
The snakes of envy are really found
Not on the plain, nor the mountain,
But beneath the roof of every house.
Then you don’t love Marcela?
I could easily live without her.
But all the servants did concur
You’re out of your wits with love for her.
Since my wits are rather small
Their loss would not be a tragedy.
But, madam, you can’t believe all
You hear. I’m sure that she truly
Deserves such attention, but
Marcela’s never had it from me.
But haven’t you told her of your love
So often that you could deceive
Even the strongest-willed woman?
Words are very cheap, my lady.
My God, what did you say, then?
Tell me, just what does a man say
To woo a woman, when he tries?
He becomes both lover and beggar.
He embroiders with a thousand lies
One small truth – perhaps not even that.
Is that so? What words does he use?
Madam, you’re pushing me too far.
‘Those eyes,’ he says, ‘Those lovely eyes
By whose celestial light I see.
Those coral lips and teeth of pearl –
That heavenly mouth...’
Well, that is the jargon of a lover.
You have no taste at all, my friend!
I’m afraid I may lose faith in you.
Can’t you see Marcela’s defects
Outweigh her graces if you’re close to?
Besides, as I often try to tell her
She’s not as clean as she could be...
Still I know you love Marcela
And I really have no wish to see
Your love impaired in anyway –
Though I could tell you a few things that...
But still her graces or disgraces
Are neither here nor there. In fact
If you really wish to marry her
We must arrange it right away...
Now since you’re so great a lover,
You must tell me what to say
To my friend who’s so confused
By her love for a low-born man.
If she loves him she abuses
Her authority and noble rank.
And yet if she denies her love
She’s driven mad by jealousy.
She is so wary of her love
This man knows nothing, I believe.
But then, he’s always so discreet.
Me, a great lover? No, not me.
Ask another for advice, please.
Then why speak so passionately
To Marcela? Weren’t you trying
Then to woo her with your flattery?
Oh if these silent walls had tongues
They could tell...
They could tell nothing.
You’re blushing. What your tongue denies
Your face confesses in its colour.
What has she been telling you?
I know I once did take her hand
But barely for a moment...
Ah yes, your hands were clasped in prayer
And your lips were mouthing psalms on her.
Yes, you’re right, I did once dare,
Though I was trembling all the time
To cool my lips a moment there
Upon fresh snow and lilies white...
Lilies and snow? Is that the cure
For a wounded heart? I want to know.
Can you advise me, Teodoro?
Well, if this lady that you know
Loves a man so far beneath her
That to give way to her desire
Would put honour in grave danger,
Couldn’t she see him in disguise?
She could enjoy him freely then.
Yes, but can she really trust him?
Wouldn’t it be safer to kill him?
Marcus Aurelius is said to have given
Gladiators’ blood to his wife
Faustina to curb her desires.
But surely in these civilized times
We don’t need Roman remedies?
True, but then we’ve no Lucretia
Nor Torquatus, or Virginius
Who very nobly killed his daughter
To save her from Appius’s lust.
Of course, the Romans had Messalina,
Poppeas and your Faustina.
Now write for me, Teodoro,
Some words upon this subject...Oh!
I slipped. Why are you staring at me?
Well, why don’t you give me a hand?
I have too much respect, my lady
To offer you my own coarse hand.
Oh, you are so politely rude!
Now you hide your hand with your cloak!
Well, when he goes to church with you
So always does Otavio.
Yes, but I never asked for his.
It’s been a hand for seventy years.
I think it must have rigor mortis,
It’s so cold and stiff and mean!
To stand and stare when someone falls
Is like saying, “I’ll get my armour,”
When you see a friend in a brawl
On the point of being murdered.
Besides it is quite simply prudery,
Not courtesy at all, to insist
An honourable hand should always be
I wanted only this;
To repay the favour you’ve shown me.
When you are an ageing squire,
Wrap your hand in your cloak for me.
If you want to rise any higher...
Tell no-one of my fall.
Is this all real? Or is it just a fantasy?
Her beauty begs me to believe it’s true.
As she grasped my hand, I felt her trembling grew
And the blood stole from her face quite guiltily.
I’m quivering, too, to think of what she said.
Is this the madness of the wolf beneath the moon?
Do I dare pursue this strange good fortune,
And ignore the thousand fears that fill my head?
But if I do, I know I’ll hurt Marcela.
Yet women too desert us when they’re tired;
They find new tastes, and soon we’re unrequired.
And if she could drop me, why can’t I drop her?
The above sample taken from the translation Dog in a Manger by John Farndon is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
I’ve brought you the important ones.
The rest are all dead to the world.
Only your ladies in waiting
were still awake.
We couldn’t sleep.
(Aside.) The storm. The sea’s raging tonight.
Shall we withdraw?
As they leave.
She’s on fire.
It’s my arse got burnt.
Yes, my lady.
Which gentlemen frequent this street?
Mainly the Marquis and the Count.
Is that the truth? Don’t lie to me,
or it’ll be the street you end up.
I would not lie.
What do they say?
I’ve never heard them speak, not once.
May I burn in hell if that’s not so.
You’ve seen them send notes? With servants?
Like the Inquisition.
She’s like the sea. She’ll drown us all. .
Who was it?
Don’t think I don’t know your game.
He bribed his way in, to see me.
Who betrayed me?
No one betrayed you.
There’s not one of us who would dare.
You don’t understand.
It wasn’t me he came to see.
It was one of you!
your indignation is proper
and though I am Marcela’s friend,
I have to be honest with you.
There is a man in love with her,
and I believe she is with him,
though who he is, I don’t know.
You’ve told me that she stole the sheep.
No point in denying the lamb.
Why torture me for her secrets?
Some women may gossip, I don’t.
He comes for Marcela, not you.
And it hasn’t gone beyond talking.
You can calm down. There’s no harm done.
No harm done! My reputation?
An affair, going on, under my roof!
I am an unmarried woman!
If my father were still alive,
he’d have his head off his shoulders.
Let me explain, please … he’s no stranger …
I mean the man that comes to see her
doesn’t really come to see her.
So no one’s honour’s put at risk.
He’s a servant, then?
Teodoro’s my secretary.
They talk; that’s all I know.
They talk …
That’s all, Anarda.
be calm, I beg you.
That will do!
He came to see another woman.
My honour is safe. I am calm.
So then …
As MARCELA and ANARDA cross.
She’s going to skin me alive.
… it was you who compromised this house?
Whatever she told you, my lady,
my only loyalty is to you.
What have I done?
In what way have I offended?
You talk to a man in my house,
in my chambers, and you wonder
how it is you’ve offended me!
Teodoro’s such a lovely fool.
He comes out with all sorts of things,
the sorts of things that lovers say
he comes out with … by the dozen …
By the dozen? Very fertile …
it doesn’t matter where we are,
what we’re doing, his thoughts … translate
into such words.
Strange word to use.
These translations, are they faithful?
His thoughts are just for you?
What does he say?
I don’t recall.
I think you do.
One day he’ll say
‘My soul swims through the dark river
of your eyes’. Then ‘My soul drowns
in your absence, without you I die’.
And he begs for a strand of hair.
To bind his thoughts and words, he says.
What interest can such ravings have
for my lady?
They interest you.
I believe his words are faithful
to what lies within. He loves me;
in a way that’s honourable and true
since it has marriage as its goal.
Then I approve of your desire.
Shall I arrange it?
I could desire nothing more.
Your anger swiftly melts away,
in the warmth of your noble heart.
Let me tell you this: I love him.
He is the cleverest and best,
the wisest man in Naples.
I know. He’s my secretary.
Although there can be no compare
between writing letters on business
and the warmer whisperings
of the heart.
Yes. You shall marry,
when the time’s ripe. You have my word.
But I cannot be less than I am.
My anger is both just and known,
and therefore I must sustain it.
There is no choice. Be more prudent
and I shall find the right moment.
Teodoro is a good man,
who’s lived in this house all his life,
and I’m bound to you by kinship,
Marcela. I owe you both favour.
And I am your faithful servant.
I kiss your feet.
Leave me now.
I rode out the storm.
Everything that there is to know.
And she’s given us her blessing.
The three women curtsey and leave. DIANA is left alone.
And there’ve been many times, at work, at rest,
I’ve bathed in his beauty’s warmth, like the sun,
and felt how his grace and wit possessed
a charm that melts, or at least I would have done.
The property of our nature, they say’s to love
but nature sits uneasy with honour and with name,
and though I might dream of swooping from above,
a noble birth regards low-born things with shame.
Envy, how well I know your sting,
living here as I watch the joy of others,
and though I feel this poor heart bursting,
I cling to rank, and memory smothers
everything but one resentful hope in store:
if only I were less, if only he were more.
The above sample taken from the translation The Dog in the Manger (2004) by David Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Vega, Lope de. 1990. The Dog in the Manger, trans. Victor Dixon. Ottawa, Dovehousepp. 60-61
So then, Teodoro, you’ve a mind to marry?
No mind for anything unless you wish it;
and you should understand that my offence
is not so gross as others may have told you.
You know that Envy has a scorpion’s tongue,
and Ovid, if he’d ever been a servant
would hardly have described its dismal dwelling
as if it lived in lonely vales or mountains;
it lives and reigns among us servants here.
It isn’t true, then, that you love Marcela?
I could survive without her.
But they tell me
you’ve lost your wits about her?
Wits like mine
are no great loss; and yet you must believe me,
your ladyship, that even though Marcela
may merit such devotion, I’ve not shown it.
You mean you haven’t murmured such endearments
as might beguile a somewhat loftier lady?
Fine words cost little.
Tell me what you told her.
How does a man, Teodoro, court a woman?
As one who loves and pleads for love’s requital,
wrapping one half-truth in a thousand lies.
But with what words?
You press me strangely, madam.
‘Those eyes of yours,’ I said, ‘those radiant globes
beam forth the light by which my eyes perceive
the pearls and coral of that mouth divine . . . ’
Why yes, your ladyship, such language
is every ardent lover’s A. B. C.
You’ve little taste. Don’t be surprised, Teodoro,
if I lose confidence in your discernment,
for I, who observe Marcela rather closer,
know that her defects far exceed her graces.
Besides, I’ve often reason to reprove her
because she’s none too clean . . . but then you love her;
I wouldn’t want to interfere, although
you’d be surprised the things . . . but that’s enough
of your Marcela’s virtues, or her vices;
I’m sure I wish your marriage well, Teodoro.
But since you know so much of love, advise me
—as I hope you’ll be happy with Marcela—
about that friend of mine; for many days now
she’s known no rest for love of an inferior.
The very thought of love offends her honour,
but if she checks herself, she’s quite distracted
by jealousy; and he, all unaware
of so much passion, though he’s shrewd, is timid.
The above sample taken from the translation The Dog in the Manger (1990) by Victor Dixon is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Vega, Lope de. 1990. The Dog in the Manger, trans. Victor Dixon. Ottawa, Dovehousepp. 77-79
Teodoro, and Marcela? What’s all this?
You seem put out to find those two together.
How love’s aroused by jealousy! Anarda,
behind that screen! Let’s both keep out of sight.
Leave me, for goodness’ sake.
They must have quarrelled.
Tristán, it seems, is trying to talk them round.
He drives me mad, that pimping little lackey.
That silly woman who so dotes on him
dazzled his eyes and ears with empty beauty
no longer than a flash of summer lightning.
He scorns her riches now, and finds in you,
your elegance, your grace, far richer treasure.
That love flew like a comet, and was gone.
Come here, Teodoro.
He’s more like a courier,
the crafty villain!
If Marcela says
it’s Fabio she loves now, why bother me?
Now he’s annoyed!
No doubt they’re better suited.
You too? You’re acting up? Come on now, stop it.
Why try to talk me round, you fool?
For my sake,
give me your hand this once, sir.
Have I ever
told her I loved somebody else? But she says . . .
That’s just a trick, she wants to turn the tables.
It’s not a trick, it’s true!
Shut up, you silly.
Come on now, both of you, you’re being stupid.
I tried to make it up before; by God, though,
I won’t be friendly now.
I’m damned if I will.
I’m trying hard to still seem angry,
but very nearly wilting.
Keep it up!
He’s such a clever rogue, that lying lackey!
I’ve things to do, Tristán, please let me go!
Yes, let her go.
All right by me!
No, stop her!
I’m coming, darling!
Well, why don’t you go, then,
since I’m not stopping either one of you?
Alas, my love, I can’t.
No, nor can I.
I’m rooted, like a rock amid the ocean!
Come to my arms, my dearest!
Come to mine!
Why let me labour, if you didn’t need me?
Was this what you were hoping for?
I see now
how little you can trust a man—or woman.
How could you say such cruel things, my darling?
I must say, now you’re happily united,
I reckon it’s a bad lookout for brokers
when both the parties come to terms without ’em.
The above sample taken from the translation The Dog in the Manger (1990) by Victor Dixon is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Entry written by Kathleen Jeffs. Last updated on 4 March 2012.