The Imaginary Invalid
by Jean Baptiste Poquelin de Moliere
The adaptation is by:
(Permission has been granted by Timothy Mooney to publish this excerpt on this blog site. To enjoy the full adaptation of this play and other Moliere plays adapted to English, go to the link above. ..Maurice.)
(ARGAN is the imaginary invalid. BERALDE is his brother. MONSIEUR PURGON is Argan’s doctor)
Let me pursue this just a little more,
You don’t believe in doctors, or their cure?
No sir, and I don’t think my soul’s salvation
Needs me to swear to doctor’s inspiration.
What! You resist the knowldege of our sages,
A truth that’s been respected through the ages?
I think, not only is it vanity
It’s mankind’s worst kind of insanity!
It is a pointless bit of flummery;
Elaborate dramatic mummery!
For greater farce, I can’t imagine other
Than one pretending he can cure another.
And why won’t you admit this can be done?
We know not just how these machines are run,
And nature will not let us know the tale,
As ‘cross the body, she has drawn a veil.
The doctors are but fools, by your account.
Oh, most of them know quite a great amount:
At letters and in Latin; they excel
Or Greek ... diseases names they know quite well.
They can define them and then classify,
But as for curing, they don’t satisfy.
But still, you must agree that in this matter,
The doctor’s discourse is not idle chatter.
They know that which I said, which won’t cure much
What they know best is just how they might clutch
The guise of truth, through dull equivocation
Purporting reasons with mere speculation,
And lending promise but not one result.
But why then, brother, do all men consult
With doctors when they’re laid up with the flu?
Most surely some are just as wise as you?
That tells the more of our frivolity,
Than it might of the treatment’s quality.
A doctor must think its good for his health,
Or else he wouldn’t use it on himself.
Well, many of them share in this delusion,
Through which, their pocketbooks receive infusion.
Your Monsieur Purgon’s one who makes great bones
About how science helps to cure your groans.
From head to toe, he’s doctor most complete,
And well believes his aptitude to treat.
He trusts in his injections’ cleansing bath,
More than he’d trust a bit of simple math!
To him, there’s nothing doubtful or obscure,
He’s confident, imperious and sure.
But do not bear him ill for what I mention,
He kills you off with finest of intention!
And doing so, he’d only lose your life,
Just as he’d kill his children, or his wife.
He’d send himself off with the same dispatch!