Sunday, August 27, 2017

On Joan of Arc

"A Light of Ancient France"'' by George William Joy (1895)
"She laid her head upon the straw..."

SHE laid her head upon the straw,
     She who had crowned a king of France,
And angel shapes, whom no man saw,
     For her deliverance,
Knelt at her feet—less pure, less sweet—
     A blessing in each glance.

She laid her head upon the straw,
     She who gave France her liberty,
And angel shapes, whom no man saw—
     Ah me! how could men see?—
Watched till the day, then bore away
     Something the flames set free.
Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (January 1902), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


HER spirit is to France a living spring
     From which to draw deep draughts of life. To-day,—
     As when a peasant girl she led the way
Victorious to Rheims and crowned the King,—
High and heroic thoughts about her cling,
     And sacrificial faiths as pure as they,
     Moving the land she loved, with gentle sway,
To be, for love of her, a better thing!

Was she unhappy? No: her radiant youth
     Burned, like a meteor, on to swift eclipse;
     But where it passed, there lingers still a light.
She waited, wistful, for the word of truth
     That breathed in blessing from immortal lips
     When earthly comfort failed, and all around was night.
Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


BLESSÈD: so have they named her. With just pride,
Deliberate care, and cautious circumstance,
The Holy Council have beatified
The Maid of Orleans, martyred child of France,
Who, at Domrémy's village altar kneeling,—
          Ignored by friend and foe,
Through all her young unsullied spirit feeling
The tears of a despairing people flow,—
Implored relief; and following the word
          Which none save she had heard,
Delivered France, and crowned her—long ago.
Rejoice, Domrémy, 'midst thy bowery green!
She was thine own, whom all, at last, would claim—
The greatest miracle that Earth hath seen
Since out of Nazareth a Saviour came.
Lowly as thou (though sheathed in armor bright),
          Her soul was as the snow—
Yea, as the lilies of her banner, white.
The Church hath blessed her; but man's heart, less slow,
Remembering her service and the price
          Of her dear sacrifice,
Gave her the name of blessèd—long ago.
Published in The Century Magazine (August 1904), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Ms. of poem published in the August 1904 issue of The Century Magazine

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