Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

THE MAID OF ORLEANS PLAY
by Friedrich Schiller

ACT III SCENE IV.

        The same.
        JOHANNA enters. She is clad in armor, and wears
        a garland in her hair.

CHARLES.
Thou comest as a priestess decked, Johanna,
To consecrate the union formed by thee!

BURGUNDY.
How dreadful was the maiden in the fight!
How lovely circled by the beams of peace!
My word, Johanna, have I now fulfilled?
Art thou contented? Have I thine applause?

JOHANNA.
The greatest favor thou hast shown thyself.
Arrayed in blessed light thou shinest now,
Who didst erewhile with bloody, ominous ray,
Hang like a moon of terror in the heavens.
        [Looking round.]
Many brave knights I find assembled here,
And joy's glad radiance beams in every eye;
One mourner, one alone I have encountered;
He must conceal himself, where all rejoice.

BURGUNDY.
And who is conscious of such heavy guilt,
That of our favor he must needs despair?

JOHANNA.
May he approach? Oh, tell me that he may;
Complete thy merit. Void the reconcilement
That frees not the whole heart. A drop of hate
Remaining in the cup of joy converts
The blessed draught to poison. Let there be
No deed so stained with blood that Burgundy
Cannot forgive it on this day of joy.

BURGUNDY.
Ha! now I understand!

JOHANNA.
        And thou'lt forgive?
Thou wilt indeed forgive? Come in, Duchatel!

        [She opens the door and leads in DUCHATEL,
        who remains standing at a distance.]

The duke is reconciled to all his foes,
And he is so to thee.

        [DUCHATEL approaches a few steps nearer,
        and tries to read the countenance of the DUKE.]

BURGUNDY.
                What makest thou
Of me, Johanna? Know'st thou what thou askest?

JOHANNA.
A gracious sovereign throws his portals wide,
Admitting every guest, excluding none;
As freely as the firmament the world,
So mercy must encircle friend and foe.
Impartially the sun pours forth his beams
Through all the regions of infinity;
The heaven's reviving dew falls everywhere,
And brings refreshment to each thirsty plant;
Whate'er is good, and cometh from on high,
Is universal, and without reserve;
But in the heart's recesses darkness dwells!

BURGUNDY.
Oh, she can mould me to her wish; my heart
Is in her forming hand like melted wax.
--Duchatel, I forgive thee--come, embrace me!
Shade of my sire! oh, not with wrathful eye
Behold me clasp the hand that shed thy blood.
Ye death-gods, reckon not to my account,
That my dread oath of vengeance I abjure.
With you, in yon drear realm of endless night,
There beats no human heart, and all remains
Eternal, steadfast, and immovable.
Here in the light of day 'tis otherwise.
Man, living, feeling man, is aye the sport
Of the o'ermastering present.

CHARLES (to JOHANNA).
                Lofty maid!
What owe I not to thee! How truly now
Hast thou fulfilled thy word,--how rapidly
Reversed my destiny! Thou hast appeased
My friends, and in the dust o'erwhelmed my foes;
From foreign yoke redeemed my cities. Thou
Hast all achieved. Speak, how can I reward thee?

JOHANNA.
Sire, in prosperity be still humane,
As in misfortune thou hast ever been;
And on the height of greatness ne'er forget
The value of a friend in times of need;
Thou hast approved it in adversity.
Refuse not to the lowest of thy people
The claims of justice and humanity,
For thy deliverer from the fold was called.
Beneath thy royal sceptre thou shalt gather
The realm entire of France. Thou shalt become
The root and ancestor of mighty kings;
Succeeding monarchs, in their regal state,
Shall those outshine, who filled the throne before.
Thy stock, in majesty shall bloom so long
As it stands rooted in the people's love.
Pride only can achieve its overthrow,
And from the lowly station, whence to-day
God summoned thy deliverer, ruin dire
Obscurely threats thy crime-polluted sons!

BURGUNDY.
Exalted maid! Possessed with sacred fire!
If thou canst look into the gulf of time,
Speak also of my race! Shall coming years
With ampler honors crown my princely line!

JOHANNA.
High as the throne, thou, Burgundy, hast built
Thy seat of power, and thy aspiring heart
Would raise still higher, even to the clouds,
The lofty edifice. But from on high
A hand omnipotent shall check its rise.
Fear thou not hence the downfall of thy house!
Its glory in a maiden shall survive;
Upon her breast shall sceptre-bearing kings,
The people's shepherds, bloom. Their ample sway
Shall o'er two realms extend, they shall ordain
Laws to control the known world, and the new,
Which God still veils behind the pathless waves.

CHARLES.
Oh, if the Spirit doth reveal it, speak;
Shall this alliance which we now renew
In distant ages still unite our sons?

JOHANNA (after a pause).
Sovereigns and kings! disunion shun with dread!
Wake not contention from the murky cave
Where he doth lie asleep, for once aroused
He cannot soon be quelled? He doth beget
An iron brood, a ruthless progeny;
Wildly the sweeping conflagration spreads.
--Be satisfied! Seek not to question further
In the glad present let your hearts rejoice,
The future let me shroud!

SOREL.
                Exalted maid!
Thou canst explore my heart, thou readest there
If after worldly greatness it aspires,
To me to give a joyous oracle.

JOHANNA.
Of empires only I discern the doom;
In thine own bosom lies thy destiny!

DUNOIS.
What, holy maid, will be thy destiny?
Doubtless, for thee, who art beloved of heaven,
The fairest earthly happiness shall bloom,
For thou art pure and holy.

JOHANNA.
                Happiness
Abideth yonder, with our God, in heaven.

CHARLES.
Thy fortune be henceforth thy monarch's care!
For I will glorify thy name in France,
And the remotest age shall call thee blest.
Thus I fulfil my word. Kneel down!
[He draws his sword and touches her with it.
And rise!
A noble! I, thy monarch, from the dust
Of thy mean birth exalt thee. In the grave
Thy fathers I ennoble--thou shalt bear
Upon thy shield the fleur-de-lis, and be
Of equal lineage with the best in France.
Only the royal blood of Valois shall
Be nobler than thine own! The highest peer
Shall feel himself exalted by thy hand;
To wed thee nobly, maid, shall be my care!

DUNOIS (advancing).
My heart made choice of her when she was lowly.
The recent honor which encircles her,
Neither exalts her merit nor my love.
Here in my sovereign's presence, and before
This holy bishop, maid, I tender thee
My hand, and take thee as my princely wife,
If thou esteem me worthy to be thine.

CHARLES.
Resistless maiden! wonder thou dost add
To wonder! Yes, I now believe that naught's
Impossible to thee! Thou hast subdued
This haughty heart, which still hath scoffed till now
At love's omnipotence.

LA HIRE (advancing).
                If I have read
Aright Johanna's soul, her modest heart's
Her fairest jewel. She deserveth well
The homage of the great, but her desires
Soar not so high. She striveth not to reach
A giddy eminence; an honest heart's
True love content's her, and the quiet lot
Which with this hand I humbly proffer her.

CHARLES.
Thou, too, La Hire! two brave competitors,--
Peers in heroic virtue and renown!
--Wilt thou, who hast appeased mine enemies,
My realms united, part my dearest friends?
One only can possess her; I esteem
Each to be justly worthy such a prize.
Speak, maid! thy heart alone must here decide.

SOREL.
The noble maiden is surprised, her cheek
Is crimsoned over with a modest blush.
Let her have leisure to consult her heart,
And in confiding friendship to unseal
Her long-closed bosom. Now the hour is come
When, with a sister's love, I also may
Approach the maid severe, and offer her
This silent, faithful breast. Permit us women
Alone to weigh this womanly affair;
Do you await the issue.

CHARLES (about to retire).
                Be it so!

JOHANNA.
No, sire, not so! the crimson on my cheek
Is not the blush of bashful modesty.
Naught have I for this noble lady's ear
Which in this presence I may not proclaim.
The choice of these brave knights much honors me,
But I did not forsake my shepherd-walks,
To chase vain worldly splendor, nor array
My tender frame in panoply of war,
To twine the bridal garland in my hair.
Far other labor is assigned to me,
Which a pure maiden can alone achieve.
I am the soldier of the Lord of Hosts,
And to no mortal man can I be wife.

ARCHBISHOP.
To be a fond companion unto man
Is woman born--when nature she obeys,
Most wisely she fulfils high heaven's decree!
When His behest who called thee to the field
Shall be accomplished, thou'lt resign thy arms,
And once again rejoin the softer sex,
Whose gentle nature thou dost now forego,
And which from war's stern duties is exempt.

JOHANNA.
Most reverend sir! as yet I cannot say
What work the Spirit will enjoin on me.
But when the time comes round, his guiding voice
Will not be mute, and it I will obey.
Now he commands me to complete my task;
My royal master's brow is still uncrowned,
'Twere better for me I had ne'er been born!
Henceforth no more of this, unless ye would
Provoke the Spirit's wrath who in me dwells!
The eye of man, regarding me with love,
To me is horror and profanity.

CHARLES.
Forbear! It is in vain to urge her further.

JOHANNA.
Command the trumpets of the war to sound!
This stillness doth perplex and harass me;
An inward impulse drives me from repose,
It still impels me to achieve my work,
And sternly beckons me to meet my doom.

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 3 SCENE 5 Maid of Orleans

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