Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

THE MAID OF ORLEANS PLAY
by Friedrich Schiller

ACT I SCENE IX.

        The same, ARCHBISHOP of RHEIMS, DUNOIS, DUCHATEL,
        with RAOUL, a Knight in armor.

ARCHBISHOP (leading DUNOIS to the KING, and joining their hands).
Princes, embrace! Let rage and discord cease,
Since Heaven itself hath for our cause declared.

        [DUNOIS embraces the KING.]

CHARLES.
Relieve my wonder and perplexity.
What may this solemn earnestness portend?
Whence this unlooked-for change of fortune?

ARCHBISHOP (leads the KNIGHT forward, and presents him to the KING).
Speak!

RAOUL.
We had assembled sixteen regiments
Of Lotharingian troops to join your host;
And Baudricourt, a knight of Vaucouleurs,
Was our commander. Having gained the heights
By Vermanton, we wound our downward way
Into the valley watered by the Yonne.
There, in the plain before us, lay the foe,
And when we turned, arms glittered in our rear.
We saw ourselves surrounded by two hosts,
And could not hope for conquest or for flight.
Then sank the bravest heart, and in despair
We all prepared to lay our weapons down.
The leaders with each other anxiously
Sought counsel and found none; when to our eyes
A spectacle of wonder showed itself.
For suddenly from forth the thickets' depths
A maiden, on her head a polished helm,
Like a war-goddess, issued; terrible
Yet lovely was her aspect, and her hair
In dusky ringlets round her shoulders fell.
A heavenly radiance shone around the height;
When she upraised her voice and thus addressed us:
"Why be dismayed, brave Frenchmen? On the foe!
Were they more numerous than the ocean sands,
God and the holy maiden lead you on!"
Then quickly from the standard-bearer's hand
She snatched the banner, and before our troop
With valiant bearing strode the wondrous maid.
Silent with awe, scarce knowing what we did,
The banner and the maiden we pursue,
And fired with ardor, rush upon the foe,
Who, much amazed, stand motionless and view
The miracle with fixed and wondering gaze.
Then, as if seized by terror sent from God,
They suddenly betake themselves to flight,
And casting arms and armor to the ground,
Disperse in wild disorder o'er the field.
No leader's call, no signal now avails;
Senseless from terror, without looking back,
Horses and men plunge headlong in the stream,
Where they without resistance are despatched.
It was a slaughter rather than a fight!
Two thousand of the foe bestrewed the field,
Not reckoning numbers swallowed by the flood,
While of our company not one was slain.

CHARLES.
'Tis strange, by heaven! most wonderful and strange!

SOREL.
A maiden worked this miracle, you say?
Whence did she come? Who is she?

RAOUL.
                Who she is
She will reveal to no one but the king!
She calls herself a seer and prophetess
Ordained by God, and promises to raise
The siege of Orleans ere the moon shall change.
The people credit her, and thirst for war.
The host she follows--she'll be here anon.

        [The ringing of bells is heard, together with the clang of arms.]

Hark to the din! The pealing of the bells!
'Tis she! The people greet God's messenger.

CHARLES (to DUCHATEL).
Conduct her thither.
        [To the ARCHBISHOP.
                What should I believe?
A maiden brings me conquest even now,
When naught can save me but a hand divine!
This is not in the common course of things.
And dare I here believe a miracle?

MANY VOICES (behind the scene).
Hail to the maiden!--the deliverer!

CHARLES.
She comes! Dunois, now occupy my place!
We will make trial of this wondrous maid.
Is she indeed inspired and sent by God
She will be able to discern the king.

        [DUNOIS seats himself; the KING stands at his right hand,
        AGNES SOREL near him; the ARCHBISHOP and the others opposite;
        so that the intermediate space remains vacant.

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 1 SCENE 10 Maid of Orleans

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