Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

THE MAID OF ORLEANS PLAY
by Friedrich Schiller

ACT I SCENE X.

        The same. JOHANNA, accompanied by the councillors and many knights,
        who occupy the background of the scene; she advances with noble
        bearing, and slowly surveys the company.

DUNOIS (after a long and solemn pause).
Art thou the wondrous maiden----

JOHANNA (interrupts him, regarding him with dignity).
Bastard of Orleans, thou wilt tempt thy God!
This place abandon, which becomes thee not!
To this more mighty one the maid is sent.

        [With a firm step she approaches the KING, bows one
        knee before him, and, rising immediately, steps back.
        All present express their astonishment, DUNOIS forsakes
        his seat, which is occupied by the KING.]

CHARLES.
Maiden, thou ne'er hast seen my face before.
Whence hast thou then this knowledge?

JOHANNA.
Thee I saw
When none beside, save God in heaven, beheld thee.

        [She approaches the KING, and speaks mysteriously.]

Bethink thee, Dauphin, in the bygone night,
When all around lay buried in deep sleep,
Thou from thy couch didst rise and offer up
An earnest prayer to God. Let these retire
And I will name the subject of thy prayer.

CHARLES.
What! to Heaven confided need not be
From men concealed. Disclose to me my prayer,
And I shall doubt no more that God inspires thee.

JOHANNA.
Three prayers thou offeredst, Dauphin; listen now
Whether I name them to thee! Thou didst pray
That if there were appended to this crown
Unjust possession, or if heavy guilt,
Not yet atoned for, from thy father's times,
Occasioned this most lamentable war,
God would accept thee as a sacrifice,
Have mercy on thy people, and pour forth
Upon thy head the chalice of his wrath.

CHARLES (steps back with awe).
Who art thou, mighty one? Whence comest thou?

        [All express their astonishment.]

JOHANNA.
To God thou offeredst this second prayer:
That if it were his will and high decree
To take away the sceptre from thy race,
And from thee to withdraw whate'er thy sires,
The monarchs of this kingdom, once possessed,
He in his mercy would preserve to thee
Three priceless treasures--a contented heart,
Thy friend's affection, and thine Agnes' love.

        [The KING conceals his face: the spectators
        express their astonishment. After a pause.]

Thy third petition shall I name to thee?

CHARLES.
Enough; I credit thee! This doth surpass
Mere human knowledge: thou art sent by God!

ARCHBISHOP.
Who art thou, wonderful and holy maid?
What favored region bore thee? What blest pair,
Beloved of Heaven, may claim thee as their child?

JOHANNA.
Most reverend father, I am named Johanna,
I am a shepherd's lowly daughter, born
In Dom Remi, a village of my king.
Included in the diocese of Toul,
And from a child I kept my father's sheep
. And much and frequently I heard them tell
Of the strange islanders, who o'er the sea
Had come to make us slaves, and on us force
A foreign lord, who loveth not the people;
How the great city, Paris, they had seized,
And had usurped dominion o'er the realm.
Then earnestly God's Mother I implored
To save us from the shame of foreign chains,
And to preserve to us our lawful king.
Not distant from my native village stands
An ancient image of the Virgin blest,
To which the pious pilgrims oft repaired;
Hard by a holy oak, of blessed power,
Standeth, far-famed through wonders manifold.
Beneath the oak's broad shade I loved to sit
Tending my flock--my heart still drew me there.
And if by chance among the desert hills
A lambkin strayed, 'twas shown me in a dream,
When in the shadow of this oak I slept.
And once, when through the night beneath this tree
In pious adoration I had sat,
Resisting sleep, the Holy One appeared,
Bearing a sword and banner, otherwise
Clad like a shepherdess, and thus she spake:
"'Tis I; arise, Johanna! leave thy flock,
The Lord appoints thee to another task!
Receive this banner! Gird thee with this sword!
Therewith exterminate my people's foes;
Conduct to Rheims thy royal master's son,
And crown him with the kingly diadem!"
And I made answer: "How may I presume
To undertake such deeds, a tender maid,
Unpractised in the dreadful art of war!"
And she replied: "A maiden pure and chaste
Achieves whate'er on earth is glorious
If she to earthly love ne'er yields her heart.
Look upon me! a virgin, like thyself;
I to the Christ, the Lord divine, gave birth,
And am myself divine!" Mine eyelids then
She touched, and when I upward turned my amaze,
Heaven's wide expanse was filled with angel-boys,
Who bore white lilies in their hands, while tones
Of sweetest music floated through the air.
And thus on three successive nights appeared
The Holy One, and cried,--"Arise, Johanna!
The Lord appoints thee to another task!"
And when the third night she revealed herself,
Wrathful she seemed, and chiding spake these words:
"Obedience, woman's duty here on earth;
Severe endurance is her heavy doom;
She must be purified through discipline;
Who serveth here, is glorified above!"
While thus she spake, she let her shepherd garb
Fail from her, and as Queen of Heaven stood forth
Enshrined in radiant light, while golden clouds
Upbore her slowly to the realms of bliss.

        [All are moved; AGNES SOREL weeping, hides her face
        on the bosom of the KING.

ARCHBISHOP (after a long pause).
Before divine credentials such as these
Each doubt of earthly prudence must subside,
Her deeds attest the truth of what she speaks,
For God alone such wonders can achieve.

DUNOIS.
I credit not her wonders, but her eyes
Which beam with innocence and purity.

CHARLES.
Am I, a sinner, worthy of such favor?
Infallible, All-searching eye, thou seest
Mine inmost heart, my deep humility!

JOHANNA.
Humility shines brightly in the skies;
Thou art abased, hence God exalteth thee.

CHARLES.
Shall I indeed withstand mine enemies?

JOHANNA.
France I will lay submissive at thy feet!

CHARLES.
And Orleans, say'st thou, will not be surrendered?

JOHANNA.
The Loire shall sooner roll its waters back.

CHARLES.
Shall I in triumph enter into Rheims?

JOHANNA.
I through ten thousand foes will lead you there.

        [The knights make a noise with their lances and shields,
        and evince signs of courage.]

DUNOIS.
Appoint the maiden to command the host!
We follow blindly whereso'er she leads!
The Holy One's prophetic eye shall guide,
And this brave sword from danger shall protect her!

LA HIRE.
A universe in arms we will not fear,
If she, the mighty one, precede our troops.
The God of battle walketh by her side;
Let her conduct us on to victory!

        [The knights clang their arms and step forward.]

CHARLES.
Yes, holy maiden, do thou lead mine host;
My chiefs and warriors shall submit to thee.
This sword of matchless temper, proved in war,
Sent back in anger by the Constable,
Hath found a hand more worthy. Prophetess,
Do thou receive it, and henceforward be----

JOHANNA.
No, noble Dauphin! conquest to my liege
Is not accorded through this instrument
Of earthly might. I know another sword
Wherewith I am to conquer, which to thee,
I, as the Spirit taught, will indicate;
Let it be hither brought.

CHARLES.
                Name it, Johanna.

JOHANNA.
Send to the ancient town of Fierbois;
There in Saint Catherine's churchyard is a vault
Where lie in heaps the spoils of bygone war.
Among them is the sword which I must use.
It by three golden lilies may be known,
Upon the blade impressed. Let it be brought
For thou, my liege, shalt conquer through this sword.

CHARLES.
Perform what she commands.

JOHANNA.
And a white banner,
Edged with a purple border, let me bear.
Upon this banner let the Queen of Heaven
Be pictured with the beauteous Jesus child
Floating in glory o'er this earthly ball.
For so the Holy Mother showed it me.

CHARLES.
So be it as thou sayest.

JOHANNA (to the ARCHBISHOP).
                Reverend bishop;
Lay on my head thy consecrated hands!
Pronounce a blessing, Father, on thy child!

                [She kneels down.]

ARCHBISHOP.
Not blessings to receive, but to dispense
Art thou appointed. Go, with power divine!
But we are sinners all and most unworthy.

                [She rises: a PAGE enters.

PAGE.
A herald from the English generals.

JOHANNA.
Let him appear, for he is sent by God!

        [The KING motions to the PAGE, who retires.]

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 1 SCENE 11 Maid of Orleans

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