Echo and narcissus

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A Play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Translated by Bronwyn Lewis, Duke ‘08 in the spring semestre, 2006

in consultation with Margaret R. Greer

Translation based on the edition of Eco y Narciso

of Charles V. Aubrun

Paris: Centre de Recherches de l’Institut d’Étudies Hispaniques, 1963
Please send suggestions for corrections or improvements to: and


Febo, a young shepherd
Silvio, a young shepherd
Anteo, a young shepherd
Sileno, an old shepherd
Bato, a commoner
Echo, a young woman
Liríope, a young woman
Laura, a young woman
Nise, a young woman

Libia, a young woman
Sirene, a commoner

Act I
The curtain is raised to reveal a forest.

Silvio enters from one side in shepherd’s clothing.

SILVIO: Woodlands of Arcadia, how prominently you

raise up to the heavens your elevated brow,

the great eminence of which reaches so high

that though it begins as a woods, it is crowned by clouds,

your forelock of hair and your footprints being

a carpet of roses and a canopy of stars…
Febo, another young shepherd, enters from the other side of the stage.
FEBO: Beautiful Arcadian jungle, how floridly you are

always garnished by shades of color,

without your pomp, at all times green,

ever reminded of December nor June ,

May being the crown of your sphere

and your season being year-round springtime…

SILVIO: Birds, that fleetingly paint the air

with the hues of a living bouquet,

and, adding colors to colors,

become the singing flowers of the trees…

FEBO: Sheep, that scattered on the mountain

are music of shearing and bleating

and on the bank of that little stream

are white pieces of sculpted snow. . .…

SILVIO: My happiness, in the the good fortune of this day,

comes to request your congratulations:

today Echo, the most beautiful young woman

that ever saw the light of the sun,

in completing this latest circle of her years,

evokes a flowery disenchantment of mortality.

FEBO: My sorrow come to convey to you my condolences

that the rare and unique beauty Echo,

disabused of immortality,

today has completed this circle of her years

such that, although filled with happiness,

each added year is one less grace remaining.

Bato, a commoner, enters from the opposite side of the stage.
BATO: Jungles of Arcadia, beautiful exalted forest,

sheep and birds of this horizon,

I come to ask your congratulations

and to give you today my fitting condolences.

The congratulations, because to today’s florid

celebration of her birth Echo invites us

and in her vanity promises

to all a sumptuous banquet.

The condolences, because – alas! –

she will promise us no other

until a year from now.
FEBO: Oh, Silvio!
SILVIO: Oh, Febo!
BATO: Oh, Bato!
FEBO: You name yourself, you crazy man?
BATO: Well, if no one else mentions me,

what am I to do? And my style should not surprise you,

since the times are so foolish and troublesome

that it is necessary for everyone to honor themselves.

FEBO: Silvio, where are you coming from?
SILVIO: I come with pleasure and filled with great happiness

to this pretty cabin

that, twice straw-colored, the sun bathes in light.
FEBO: I also come to it,

and upon seeing you here, too, I am jealous

that already my love is disappointed

that you also live in love with Echo.

SILVIO: Oh, heavens, how much more quickly

am I met with Jealousy before I am met with my love!

BATO: With such similar strategies, what hypocrites

lovers become in each others’ company!

FEBO: Why do you say that?
BATO: Even though I want

to say it, I cannot,

because all of this music, this noise,

tells me that Echo has come out,

celebrated by all the young men.
SILVIO: I will offer my congratulations in troubled tones

until my confessions may speak more clearly.

FEBO: Who ever saw such noble jealousy in a peasant’s love?
The musicians enter, singing and dancing,

followed by Sileno, Anteo, Nise, Sirene, and Eco.
MUSICIANS: Each of the happy years of Echo’s life,

divine and beautiful goddess of the jungle,

May gladly represents with flowers,

while the Sun proudly tells their story with the stars.

SILVIO: Gorgeous Echo, in wise nature condensed

the most outstanding beauty

that Arcadia ever set eyes upon,

the circle that dawn completes

in your pretty lights

is so superior to any

other brilliance or radiance…

MUSICIANS: May gladly represents with flowers,

while the Sun proudly tells their story with the stars.
FEBO: May your florid springtime

ignore cold Winter,

ignore blazing Summer,

in order that it may endure pleasantly

in its greenness, such that

the marks of death

do not change your pretty roses,

but rather its clear daybreaks, that…


MUSICIANS: May gladly represents with flowers,

while the Sun proudly tells their story with the stars.
BATO: My tongue does not advise you

to live long, for that is a mistake.

To die young is better,

than becoming an old woman,

And so leave off aging

that, as it passes you by,

the tinges and colors of

that age of the greatest beauty…


MUSICIANS: May gladly represents with flowers,

while the Sun proudly tells their story with the stars.
ECHO: I am very pleased by the

festivities with which you honor me,

And to ensure that you are in charge of me

I will only laud that life

as you repeat it in song;

but I should also complain

at this time about he who,

with the strangest style,

has not offered me congratulations

at my birthday celebration.

ANTEO: If what you say is about me,

I am a rustic shepherd.

I never learned how to speak about love,

but rather how to fight wild animals.

Since I have been quiet here,

I will go to the forest in your name.

I will bring back as much as I am able to hunt.

In this way, with noble actions,

I will communicate in deeds

what I cannot say in words.

SILVIO: If I too have been the cause,

Echo, of the complaint you have made,

be not surprised that my concern

has me so paralyzed.

Today also marks the anniversary

of my greatest grievances,

and so in their devotion

my sufferings do not offer you

flattery from my lips,

but tears from my eyes.

Twelve years has Liríope,

my lovely daughter, been missing

from these valleys, and all that time

I have had no news of her. Today

marks that anniversary.

Therefore, do not be

astonished to see in my sorrows

such incongruous sentiments,

this same day (if this luck lasts!) that

your beauty turns a year older,

my misfortune grows a year longer as well.
BATO: Today is not a day for tears.
SIRENE: May the surprise of your remarkable sorrow

not rob us of our shared happiness.

NISE: Let sweet harmony return

to inhabit the winds.

ECHO: Today I am offered to Jupiter’s temple,

which lies hidden in the uncultivated

woods. Since I go accompanied by all,

I want to fulfill the offering now,

for I could hardly do it alone

without fearing the horrible, ferocious

monster that hides within them.
FEBO: Even though I infer how much

it is a serious affliction

to want to penetrate the mountaintop

where this temple is nestled,

its opulent structure lifts its fire to the sun.

Let’s go, so that in going with you,

love will make easy the greatest difficulty.
SILVIO: I say the same thing to you.
BATO: I do not; I am not obliged to go

where an enchanted monster

so many times surprised

our men and our livestock.

SIRENE: May the music return, and

let no shepherd remain in the meadow

who does not go along.
SILENO: I also want to arrive at the temple,

Since in it I await pity.

NISE: Let the congratulations continue.
FEBO: Oh, divine Echo,

who could oblige your severity!

SILVIO: Who could win your favor!
ECHO: Who might not see herself loved!
SILENO: Who might turn away his crying!
BATO: Who might not have fears!
MUSIC: The happy years of Echo,

divine and beautiful goddess of the jungle,

May gladly represents with flowers,

while the Sun proudly tells their story with the stars.

They exit.
Narciso enters dressed in animal skins, with Liríope,

also dressed in animal skins and bearing a bow and arrow,

trying to detain him.
LIRÍOPE: You cannot pass beyond here.
NARCISSUS: How is it that you wish to detain me,

when those birds that I hear generate

such strange and new music to my ears

that it carries me, fascinated, after its intonations?

I never heard such tender voices,

though I’ve listened countless times

to the birds that awaken with the sun.
LIRÍOPE: Those voices that you have heard,

and that you take to be birds,

are not.
NARCISSUS: Then what are they, Mother?
LIRÍOPE: It is not advisable that you know,

because the fates have placed

your greatest danger in them.
NARCISSUS: What danger is that, if the greatest danger

would be to no longer hear them? Let me

follow them, to find out who

so suavely breathes the intonations of their voice,

uttering in tender clauses:

AND MUSICIANS: The happy years of Echo,

divine and beautiful goddess of the jungle…
LIRÍOPE: Naturally carried along by affection,

he mimics them.


AND MUSICIANS: May gladly represents with flowers,

while the Sun proudly tells their story with the stars.
LIRÍOPE: That in so many years there was

no one who dared to pass through

this intricate denseness,

and today they come with such music!

NARCISSUS: Mother of mine,

allow me to follow them.

LIRÍOPE: Hold on!
NARCISSUS: Let me go! How can I

hold myself back,

hearing them return to say…

AND MUSICIANS: May gladly represents with flowers,

while the Sun proudly tells their story with the stars?
LIRÍOPE: Don’t you know that you cannot

venture farther than this rock,

which is the dark grey barrier

that conceals the threshold of

this cave where the two of us live?

How can you intend to break

the code of my rules,

the laws of my obedience?

NARCISSUS: That novelty, Mother, has

given me license,

not merely to violate them and break them,

but to speak to you more clearly.

Listen to me carefully.

I, from this rock,

which is the line to which you

ordain that I may come,

have seen the various effects

of this great nature.

One day above that brown mountain range

I spied a bird that is doubtless the

queen of all the others,

judging from the pride with which she lives,

and the height at which she flies.

This bird had, on a green nest

made of straw and grass, some

chicks that she fed with her own mouth

while they remained naked of feathers.

She scarcely saw them dressed and with wings,

when, her mercies turned to rigors,

she threw them from the nest,

so that necessity would be their teacher

throughout the course of their lives.

Between those two rocks (the fault is still visible)

and on the skins of other wild animals,

a lioness raised some cubs

that, bleeding her fierceness to them

from her breasts, nourished them,

until, they acquired strength,

and she threw them from herself,

caring for them with pride

so that they would know well

what she gave them as their heritage.

Now, if a lioness and a bird

from their bed and the nest

throw out their children so that

they learn to live without their mother,

why, seeing as I already have

the wings that within me give rise to

speech (reason), and the vigor

that my youthfulness flaunts,

do you not send me off?

Have you not told me yourself that

there is more to the world than these mountains,

more houses than this cave,

more people than these brutes,

more population than these jungles?

Why then, Mother, do you rob me

of liberty and deny me the gift

that a bird and a lioness concede to their children,

the wealth which heaven gives

to those who have been born on the earth?
LIRÍOPE: It pains me greatly, Narcissus, that

today you reason so resolutely,

because you force me to give you

a response to those questions.

I will do it, but not now,

since I want to leave before the sun is

too darkened for hunting to nourish you.

On returning,

I will tell you of the dangers

that threaten your beauty,

and the reasons why I have

raised you this way; that, in coming

to this understanding,

you will know ho to guard yourself against them.

The only thing that my voice, along with my tears,

begs of you now is that you

do not stray from here

until I return to see you.

NARCISSUS: I offer it to you on one condition,

that that seductive voice I heard

does not come again to my ears,

because it will take much not to follow behind it,

if it once more returns to say

in tones so suave and tender:


AND MUSICIANS: The happy years of Echo,

divine and beautiful goddess of the jungle,

May gladly represents with flowers,

while the Sun proudly tells their story with the stars.
Narcissus exits.
LIRÍOPE: The day that I always feared has come,

that forces me to relate

to Narcissus the events

of my life and of his star.

Gods, bestow luck today

on the points of my arrows,

since it was never more important to me

to return quickly to our resting place.

They enter from one side.

Anteo enters from another side with a javelin.
ANTEO: The one day that I have

wanted to hunt with most diligence,

my desire has not found

any game, even though

penetrating the entrails

of this confusing undergrowth

that has never or not lately felt

the tread of human feet.

I shall not return home

without bringing back some game

that I would be able to give to Echo,

since I came here in her name.

Liríope returns onstage.
LIRÍOPE: Scarcely a timid rabbit runs about

today, nor does a cowardly partridge

fly. Never does game come slower

than when it is hurriedly sought after.

ANTEO: I sense a stirring among those branches.
LIRÍOPE: I’ve heard a murmur among those leaves
ANTEO: In whatever it may be

I shall leave the blade

of this spear bloody.
LIRÍOPE: In whatever it should be, I shall see

stained the tips of my arrows.

But it is a man i – oh dear!

Don’t shoot! Hold on! Wait!

ANTEO: It has well been necessary

to hear your tongue pronounce

a human voice in order to

suspend the action of my arm.

LIRÍOPE: And well did I need

to see you with all the markings

of a man in order for impulse

to loosen the strings of my bow.

ANTEO: Human monster, who are you?
LIRÍOPE: I am an unknown wild animal

of these forests. And now, before

you have more news of me,

go back, because if you try to

take another step, from my quiver

of arrows to your chest you will see them

fly so rapidly that they alone

can stop themselves.

ANTEO: If your physical markings do not deceive me,

I have known by your markings

that you are the wonder whom

all of this region quakes in fear of.

And as such, although my distrust fears

two deaths together here,

the first by your harpoons,

the other by your strangeness,

I shall knock down them both;

because my admiration of you does not

only intend to finish off, strange monster,

whoever you are, but to carry you off with me,

since I made the offer to a young lady of

that which I catch today on the mountain;

and it will be a noteworthy undertaking

to offer you at her feet

in protection of the land.
LIRÍOPE: Do not desperately attempt

so grand an act, for you

risk your life.
ANTEO: It is already impossible to

stop attempting it.

LIRÍOPE: Think before doing that which

you dare.

ANTEO: There is nothing I do not

dare to do.

LIRÍOPE: It will be such a risk as

that of life and death.

ANTEO: What are you waiting for?

LIRÍOPE: Yes, I will. Heavens! But

with the excessive violence

with which I wanted to endow the shot,

I broke the string of the bow.
ANTEO: Without a doubt, the gods desire

that I achieve

this victory.
LIRÍOPE: Well if you have triumphed with

my misfortunes, not over all my strengths.

I will pummel you into a thousand pieces

before you defeat me a second time.

The two begin fighting.
ANTEO: You do not know at all who the youth

is that fights with you, who will

humiliate your pride, though you

might be the lioness of these mountains.

LIRÍOPE: Oh, cruel world!

Since I am already subject to your

valor, no not bring me with you alone,

let me carry with me the

other half of my life.


ANTEO: Close your lips, do not call out

to one who might protect you,

because, without them defending you,

I shall achieve this good fortune.

LIRÍOPE: Narcissus!
ANTEO: Silence your tongue.
They begin fighting again.

Narcissus enters.
NARCISSUS: I have heard the voice of my mother

moaning sorrowfully,

calling to me. If she herself ordered

that I do not leave the cave,

how is it that she calls me?
Liríope shouts from far away.
LIRÍOPE: Narcissus – oh, God! – my fates

take me away from you!

NARCISSUS: What do I hear?

How is it, Mother, that you leave me,

telling me from afar,

without me knowing where you are,

that the fates have set out to

take you away from my love?

The day that my soul and my life

were most contentedly awaiting you,

because they were waiting to find out

who I am and how it is that you deny me

my liberty, only your cries return,

and even they are not complete,

the wind usurps half of them from me.

inside: Narcissus, oh God!
NARCISSUS: Oh, dear!

What am I supposed to do without you

alone in these woodlands, not knowing

who I am and what manner of living

men have, since you teach me nothing

except how to speak?

And even that I would pardon you for

now, so that my misfortunes might not have

the consolation of complaints in their payment.

For my well-being, Mother, lady,

come back, return to me. Do not be

so ungrateful that you leave me

to live among these rocks,

companion of the tree trunks,

of the brutes and the wild animals.

What anger have I given you

for you to flee from me in this manner?

Have I not always lived attentive to

your obedience?

Do I know any more than what you,

Mother, have wanted me to know?

Then why do you punish me

with such a strange sentence?

Oh, goodness! What will I do?

The voice was heard from over there.

After her I will go, since I do not doubt

that my tears give her pause.

Travel quickly, sighs!

Say that my crying is on its way,

that she wait a brief moment,

that only it is going to move her.

But how sad it is that I do not know

if I guess the course correctly or if I err

in the direction of my steps,

since, as this is the first time

that I have left the cave,

I don’t know if I guess wrongly or guess correctly.

Gods, guide my feet,

heavens, relieve my sorrows,

sun, illuminate my senses,

stars, bend my judgment,

beasts, grieve at my pain,

birds, echo my moaning,

mountains, give me passage,

trees, tell me the path,

that an unhappy youth, whose

own mother leaves him behind,

will be justly protected by

gods, heavens, sun, stars,

beasts, birds, mountains,

trees, rocks, and jungles.
He exits.
The theater is changed, now having in the foreground the door of the temple.

Febo and Silvio enter first, grasping a ribbon, with Echo detaining them.

Then Laura, Sirene, Libia, Sileno, and the musicians enter.
FEBO: I will lose my life

before I hand over the ribbon.

ECHO: Look, I am here.
SILVIO: May your beauty

pardon me and not prevent me

from keeping this ribbon,

since, having fallen from

your hair, I have been

the one who arrived first

to pick it up on that occasion.
FEBO: Love never ranks its creditors

in their favors;

and even though I arrive last,

I shall take it

BATO: Don’t you realize..?
FEBO: What?
BATO: That it is very uncivilized to fight

for a ribbon, when a yard of it

costs twenty cents in a store?
SILENO: If you two blamed

my prolonged concern

for today reminding me of my grief,

and telling me that the day you see

is not one for tears,

how is it that you want to convert

into sorrow the happiness

with which we return to the temple?

SILVIO: No matter what the occasion,

jealousy excuses even

greater extremes.
ECHO: Listen to me, without having

more quarreling or insisting.

If the ribbon, since it is mine,

is so admired by you two,

be advised that right now it

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