Out of the Wings

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No hay burlas con el amor (c.1635), Pedro Calderón de la Barca

The Phoenix of Madrid (2011), translated by Laurence Boswell

Excerpt from ACT THREE, near the end of the play, Boswell's 'The Phoenix of Madrid'


Calderón de la Barca, Pedro. 2011. The Phoenix of Madrid, trans. Laurence Boswell. London, Oberon Books

pp. 91-3
Beatriz’s sister, Leonor, has been jilted by her lover, Juan, because he believes her to have been unfaithful. He comes to her house only to accompany his friend Alonso, who wishes to speak with Beatriz. Luis goes to wait outside, leaving Alonso inside the house where he hopes to set the record straight with Beatriz, but she speaks first in this passionate defence of her heart. She has been lied to and deceived by Alonso, who was at first only pretending to love her. However, over the course of the play, he has come to sincerely care for her, as he is about to reveal.
Further information:
This excerpt is taken from the performance script of the play as it was performed in Bath in 2011.
Sample text

Ines, take me to Beatriz

I must speak to her.


Here is Beatriz,

Listening to the iniquities

Of a vile sister, a false friend

A despicable manservant,

A treacherous chambermaid

And a most pernicious lover:

In consequence of the deeds

Of Leonor and Don Juan,

Of Ines and Moscatel,

I have found if not consolation

For my woes then perhaps some

Comprehension of my folly.

Though I might easily complain

Of the unkind and hurtful, of the

Many cruel and spiteful deeds

I've experienced at your hands

Joined all together as you were

In conspiracy against me,

I have come to understand that

In the kingdom of the soul

Contempt reigns in perfect peace,

And love can have no dominion.

There is one matter, one subject

Of which I must speak, though in

Complaining I'll be offended but

Of this offence I must complain

It being the greatest of my insults

And not the least of my injuries:

For as a woman it has been

Most painful for me to discover

That a lie may more easily

Win our hearts, than the truth we love.

Sir, is my family and my blood

Of so little worth? Am I myself,

I must say this, am I myself

Of so little worth, that should a man

Presume to woo, he could only

Woo me with lies?


Beautiful Beatriz,

As you emerge with such dignity

From these wrongs, so deeply felt,

It will be simple to disabuse you.


How can you simply disabuse

When the abuse, sir, was complete?


If you listen, I will explain:

Sometimes, like a fool, a man may

Dive into the sea, imagining

Before him an orchard of foam

A forest of snow paying no heed

To the danger and in a trice,

To his horror, orchard and forest

Devour him and love is a sea

And as only a fool plays with the sea

Only a fool makes a fool of love.

As a joke or an experiment

An ingenious firework maker

May construct a thunderbolt only

To be burnt by the heat of his

Own creation, love is a thunderbolt

And as only a fool plays with fire

Only a fool makes a fool of love.

A skilful swordsman may unsheathe

A blade playfully exchanging

Blows with his dearest friend

Only to wound him as if he were his

Keenest enemy, love is a sword

As only a fool plays with naked steel

Only a fool makes a fool of love.

In jocund mood a man may stroke

A wild creature that seems tame

Only to be savaged when the animal

Turns on him and love is a beast

And as only a fool plays with nature

Only a fool makes a fool of love.

Like a fool I jumped into the sea

Like a fool I started up a fire

Played with naked steel and beast

And I was drowned in the sea

Was scorched by a thunder bolt

Felt the violence of beast and blade

So then, if beast, blade, fire and sea

Have the power to destroy a man:

Only a fool makes a fool of love.


To that, I might reply…

Enter Ines and Leonor, running.


Oh, my god!

Don Juan rushed out into the street

As I called, I saw father coming

We must hide...


The above sample taken from the translation The Phoenix of Madrid (2011) by Laurence Boswell is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Entry written by Kathleen Jeffs. Last updated on 16 May 2012.

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