Jean Cocteau

(5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963 / Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines)

Toreador Poem by Jean Cocteau


Pepita queen of Venice
When you go beneath your shutter
All gondoliers call out:
Watch out--Toreador!
No one rules your heart
In the grand palace where you sleep
And near you the old duenna lies in waiting
for the Toreador.
Toreador, bravest of the brave
When in Piazza San Marco
The wild, slobbering bull
Falls slain by your blade
It is not pride that caresses
Your heart beneath your golden cape
It is for a young goddess
That your passion burns, toreador.

(refrain)

Lovely Spanish girl
In your gondola
Dancing and prancing
Carmencita
Under your mantilla
Sparkling eyes
Shining mouth
That's Pepita

Tomorrow is St. Escurio's Day,
With its combat to the death
The canal is full of sails
Celebrating the Toreador
More than one Venetian beauty
Trembles to know your fate
But you despise all their laces—you suffer—
Toreador.
Since not seeing her appear
Hidden behind an orange tree,
Pepita alone at her window
You think about vengeance.
Under your caftan slips your dagger
Jealousy gnaws at your heart
And alone with the noise of the waves
You weep toreador.

So many horsemen! so great a crowd!
Filling the arena to its limits
From a hundred leagues people keep coming
To cheer you—Toreador!
And so he enters the arena
With more composure than a lord
But he can scarcely walk, the poor
Toreador.
His gloomy dream contains no more
Than to die before the eyes of all
As he feels the piercing of those horns
Within his sad, troubled brow
He sees Pepita sitting there,
Offering her gaze and her body
To the oldest doge of Venice
Laughing at the toreador.

Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010

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