Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Holy Joan

First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance,
The scourge of England, and the boast of France!
Though burnt by wicked Bedford for a witch,
Behold her statue placed in Glory's niche,
Her fetters burst and just released from prison,
A virgin phoenix from her ashes risen. -- LORD BYRON
Today is the feast of St. Jehanne d'Arc. (While in English we often translate her name as 'Joan of Arc', D'Arc or d'Arc was the family name, not a description; and although her name was spelled a number of different ways, and in French is usually 'Jeanne' today, her own signature spells it 'Jehanne', although as she was illiterate it is possible that her signature was done with assistance.) Despite the fact that we have an immense amount of documentary evidence of her life, we have no picture of her. But when the Parliament in Paris heard rumor of her deeds, the scribe, Clément de Fauquembergue, drew a sketch of how he imagined her in the margin of the Parliamentary register:

Joan parliament of paris

Jehanne D'Arc

A quiet garden path
        (St. Michael be our guide)
a scent of spring and day,
a field both green and wide,
and a girl--

and beauty bright and bold
        (St. Catherine, for us pray)
and fierce but calm resolve
(with militance like May)
of a girl--

the hope that step by step
        (St. Margaret, lend your aid)
will charge the raging host
and face the swinging blade
as a girl--

by one bright thread are bound
        (Lord Jesus, give us grace)
with frame of twining flame
and eyes set in the face
of a girl....

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