Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

THE MAID OF ORLEANS PLAY
by Friedrich Schiller

ACT IV

        A hall adorned as for a festival; the columns are hung
        with garlands; behind the scene flutes and hautboys.

ACT IV SCENE I.

JOHANNA.

Hushed is the din of arms, war's storms subside,
Glad songs and dance succeed the bloody fray,
Through all the streets joy echoes far and wide,
Altar and church are decked in rich array,
Triumphal arches rise in vernal pride,
Wreathes round the columns wind their flowery way,
Wide Rheims cannot contain the mighty throng,
Which to joyous pageant rolls along.

One thought alone doth every heart possess,
One rapt'rous feeling o'er each breast preside.
And those to-day are linked in happiness
Whom bloody hatred did erewhile divide.
All who themselves of Gallic race confess
The name of Frenchman own with conscious pride,
France sees the splendor of her ancient crown,
And to her monarch's son bows humbly down.

Yet I, the author of this wide delight,
The joy, myself created, cannot share;
My heart is changed, in sad and dreary plight
It flies the festive pageant in despair;
Still to the British camp it taketh flight,
Against my will my gaze still wanders there,
And from the throng I steal, with grief oppressed,
To hide the guilt which weighs upon my breast!

What! I permit a human form
To haunt my bosom's sacred cell?
And there, where heavenly radiance shone,
Doth earthly love presume to dwell?
The savior of my country, I,
The warrior of God most high,
Burn for my country's foeman? Dare I name
Heaven's holy light, nor feel o'erwhelmed with shame?

[The music behind the scene passes into a soft and moving melody.]

        Woe is me! Those melting tones!
        They distract my 'wildered brain!
        Every note, his voice recalling,
        Conjures up his form again

        Would that spears were whizzing round!
        Would that battle's thunder roared!
        'Midst the wild tumultuous sound
        My former strength were then restored.

        These sweet tones, these melting voices,
        With seductive power are fraught!
        They dissolve, in gentle longing,
        Every feeling, every thought,
        Waking tears of plaintive sadness.

        [After a pause, with more energy.]

Should I have killed him? Could I, when I gazed
Upon his face? Killed him? Oh, rather far
Would I have turned my weapon 'gainst myself!
And am I culpable because humane?
Is pity sinful? Pity! Didst then hear
The voice of pity and humanity
When others fell the victims of thy sword?
Why was she silent when the gentle youth
From Wales entreated thee to spare his life?
Oh, cunning heart! Thou liest before high heaven!
It is not pity's voice impels thee now!
Why was I doomed to look into his eyes!
To mark his noble features! With that glance, Thy crime, thy woe commenced. Unhappy one!
A sightless instrument thy God demands,
Blindly thou must accomplish his behest!
When thou didst see, God's shield abandoned thee,
And the dire snares of hell around thee pressed!

[Flutes are again heard, and she subsides into a quiet melancholy.]

        Harmless staff! Oh, that I ne'er
        Had for the sword abandoned thee!
        Had voices never reached mine ear,
        From thy branches, sacred tree!
        High queen of heaven! Oh, would that thou
        Hadst ne'er revealed thyself to me!
        Take back--I dare not claim it now--
        Take back thy crown, 'tis not for me!

        I saw the heavens open wide,
        I gazed upon that face of love!
        Yet here on earth my hopes abide,
        They do not dwell in heaven above!
        Why, Holy One, on me impose
        This dread vocation? Could I steel,
        And to each soft emotion close
        This heart, by nature formed to feel?

        Wouldst thou proclaim thy high command,
        Make choice of those who, free from sin,
        In thy eternal mansions stand;
        Send forth thy flaming cherubim!
        Immortal ones, thy law they keep,
        They do not feel, they do not weep!
        Choose not a tender woman's aid,
        Not the frail soul of shepherd maid!

        Was I concerned with warlike things,
        With battles or the strife of kings?
        In innocence I led my sheep
        Adown the mountain's silent steep,
        But thou didst send me into life,
        Midst princely halls and scenes of strife,
        To lose my spirit's tender bloom
        Alas, I did not seek my doom!

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 4 SCENE 2 Maid of Orleans

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