Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

THE MAID OF ORLEANS PLAY
by Friedrich Schiller

ACT I SCENE II.

        KING CHARLES. The same.
CHARLES.
The Constable hath sent us back his sword
And doth renounce our service. Now, by heaven!
He thus hath rid us of a churlish man,
Who insolently sought to lord it o'er us.

DUNOIS.
A man is precious in such perilous times;
I would not deal thus lightly with his loss.

CHARLES.
Thou speakest thus from love of opposition;
While he was here thou never wert his friend.

DUNOIS.
He was a tiresome, proud, vexatious fool,
Who never could resolve. For once, however,
He hath resolved. Betimes he goeth hence,
Where honor can no longer be achieved.

CHARLES.
Thou'rt in a pleasant humor; undisturbed
I'll leave thee to enjoy it. Hark, Duchatel!
Ambassadors are here from old King Rene,
Of tuneful songs the master, far renowned.
Let them as honored guests be entertained,
And unto each present a chain of gold.
[To the Bastard.]
Why smilest thou, Dunois?

DUNOIS.
                That from thy mouth
Thou shakest golden chains.

DUCHATEL.
                Alas! my king!
No gold existeth in thy treasury.

CHARLES.
Then gold must be procured. It must not be
That bards unhonored from our court depart.
'Tis they who make our barren sceptre bloom,
'Tis they who wreath around our fruitless crown
Life's joyous branch of never-fading green.
Reigning, they justly rank themselves as kings,
Of gentle wishes they erect their throne,
Their harmless realm existeth not in space;
Hence should the bard accompany the king,
Life's higher sphere the heritage of both!

DUCHATEL.
My royal liege! I sought to spare thine ear
So long as aid and counsel could be found;
Now dire necessity doth loose my tongue.
Naught hast thou now in presents to bestow,
Thou hast not wherewithal to live to-morrow!
The spring-tide of thy fortune is run out,
And lowest ebb is in thy treasury!
The soldiers, disappointed of their pay,
With sullen murmurs, threaten to retire.
My counsel faileth, not with royal splendor
But meagerly, to furnish out thy household.

CHARLES.
My royal customs pledge, and borrow gold
From the Lombardians.

DUCHATEL.
Sire, thy revenues,
Thy royal customs are for three years pledged.

DUNOIS.
And pledge meanwhile and kingdom both are lost.

CHARLES.
Still many rich and beauteous lands are ours.

DUNOIS.
So long as God and Talbot's sword permit!
When Orleans falleth into English hands
Then with King Rene thou may'st tend thy sheep!

CHARLES.
Still at this king thou lov'st to point thy jest;
Yet 'tis this lackland monarch who to-day
Hath with a princely crown invested me.

DUNOIS.
Not, in the name of heaven, with that of Naples,
Which is for sale, I hear, since he kept sheep.

CHARLES.
It is a sportive festival, a jest,
Wherein he giveth to his fancy play,
To found a world all innocent and pure
In this barbaric, rude reality.
Yet noble--ay, right royal is his aim!
He will again restore the golden age,
When gentle manners reigned, when faithful love
The heroic hearts of valiant knights inspired,
And noble women, whose accomplished taste
Diffuseth grace around, in judgment sat.
The old man dwelleth in those bygone times,
And in our workday world would realize
The dreams of ancient bards, who picture life
'Mid bowers celestial, throned on golden clouds.
He hath established hence a court of love
Where valiant knights may dwell, and homage yield
To noble women, who are there enthroned,
And where pure love and true may find a home.
Me he hath chosen as the prince of love.

DUNOIS.
I am not such a base, degenerate churl
As love's dominion rudely to assail.
I am her son, from her derive my name,
And in her kingdom lies my heritage.
The Prince of Orleans was my sire, and while
No woman's heart was proof against his love,
No hostile fortress could withstand his shock!
Wilt thou, indeed, with honor name thyself
The prince of love--be bravest of the brave!
As I have read in those old chronicles,
Love aye went coupled with heroic deeds,
And valiant heroes, not inglorious shepherds,
So legends tell us, graced King Arthur's board.
The man whose valor is not beauty's shield
Is all unworthy of her golden prize.
Here the arena! combat for the crown,
Thy royal heritage! With knightly sword
Thy lady's honor and thy realm defend--
And hast thou with hot valor snatched the crown
From streams of hostile blood,--then is the time,
And it would well become thee as a prince,
Love's myrtle chaplet round thy brows to wreathe.

CHARLES (to a PAGE, who enters).
What is the matter?

PAGE.
                Senators from Orleans
Entreat an audience, sire.

CHARLES.
                Conduct them hither!
        [PAGE retires.]
Doubtless they succor need; what can I do,
Myself all-succorless!

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 1 SCENE 3 Maid of Orleans

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