Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

THE MAID OF ORLEANS PLAY
by Friedrich Schiller

ACT IV SCENE II.

        AGNES SOREL, JOHANNA.

SOREL (advances joyfully. When she perceives JOHANNA she hastens to
her and falls upon her neck; then suddenly recollecting herself; she
relinquishes her hold, and falls down before her).
No! no! not so! Before thee in the dust----

JOHANNA (trying to raise her).
Arise! Thou dost forget thyself and me.

SOREL.
Forbid me not! 'tis the excess of joy
Which throws me at thy feet--I must pour forth
My o'ercharged heart in gratitude to God;
I worship the Invisible in thee.
Thou art the angel who has led my lord
To Rheims, to crown him with the royal crown.
What I ne'er dreamed to see is realized!
The coronation march will soon set forth;
Arrayed in festal pomp the monarch stands;
Assembled are the nobles of the realm,
The mighty peers to bear the insignia;
To the cathedral rolls the billowy crowd;
Glad songs resound, the bells unite their peal:
Oh, this excess of joy I cannot bear!

        [JOHANNA gently raises her. AGNES SOREL pauses a moment,
        and surveys the MAIDEN more narrowly.]

Yet thou remainest ever grave and stern;
Thou canst create delight, yet share it not.
Thy heart is cold, thou feelest not our joy,
Thou hast beheld the glories of the skies;
No earthly interest moveth thy pure breast.

        [JOHANNA seizes her hand passionately, but soon lets it fall again.]

Oh, couldst thou own a woman's feeling heart!
Put off this armor, war is over now,
Confess thy union with the softer sex!
My loving heart shrinks timidly from thee,
While thus thou wearest Pallas' brow severe.

JOHANNA.
What wouldst thou have me do?

SOREL.
                Unarm thyself!
Put off this coat of mail! The God of Love
Fears to approach a bosom clad in steel.
Oh, be a woman, thou wilt feel his power!

JOHANNA.
What, now unarm myself? Midst battle's roar
I'll bare my bosom to the stroke of death!
Not now! Would that a sevenfold wall of brass
Could hide me from your revels, from myself!

SOREL.
Thou'rt loved by Count Dunois. His noble heart,
Which virtue and renown alone inspire,
With pure and holy passion glows for thee.
Oh, it is sweet to know oneself beloved
By such a hero--sweeter still to love him!

        [JOHANNA turns away with aversion.]

Thou hatest him?--No, no, thou only canst
Not love him:--how could hatred stir thy breast!
Those who would tear us from the one we love,
We hate alone; but none can claim thy love.
Thy heart is tranquil--if it could but feel----

JOHANNA.
Oh, pity me! Lament my hapless fate!

SOREL.
What can be wanting to complete thy joy?
Thou hast fulfilled thy promise, France is free,
To Rheims, in triumph, thou hast led the king,
Thy mighty deeds have gained thee high renown,
A happy people praise and worship thee;
Thy name, the honored theme of every tongue;
Thou art the goddess of this festival;
The monarch, with his crown and regal state,
Shines not with greater majesty than thou!

JOHANNA.
Oh, could I hide me in the depths of earth!

SOREL.
Why this emotion? Whence this strange distress?
Who may to-day look up without a fear
If thou dost cast thine eyes upon the ground!
It is for me to blush, me, who near thee
Feel all my littleness; I cannot reach
The lofty virtue, thy heroic strength!
For--all my weakness shall I own to thee?
Not the renown of France, my Fatherland,
Not the new splendor of the monarch's crow,
Not the triumphant gladness of the crowds,
Engage this woman's heart. One only form
Is in its depths enshrined; it hath no room
For any feeling save for one alone:
He is the idol, him the people bless,
Him they extol, for him they strew these flowers,
And he is mine, he is my own true love!

JOHANNA.
Oh, thou art happy! thou art blessed indeed!
Thou lovest, where all love. Thou may'st, unblamed
Pour forth thy rapture, and thine inmost heart,
Fearless discover to the gaze of man!
Thy country's triumph is thy lover's too.
The vast, innumerable multitudes,
Who, rolling onward, crowd within these walls,
Participate thy joy, they hallow it;
Thee they salute, for thee they twine the wreath,
Thou art a portion of the general joy;
Thou lovest the all-inspiring soul, the sun,
And what thou seest is thy lover's glory!

SOREL (falling on her neck).
Thou dost delight me, thou canst read my heart!
I did thee wrong, thou knowest what love is,
Thou tell'st my feelings with a voice of power.
My heart forgets its fear and its reserve,
And seeks confidingly to blend with thine----

JOHANNA (tearing herself from her with violence).
Forsake me! Turn away! Do not pollute
Thyself by longer intercourse with me!
Be happy! go--and in the deepest night
Leave me to hide my infamy, my woe!

SOREL.
Thou frighten'st me, I understand thee not,
I ne'er have understood thee--for from me
Thy dark mysterious being still was veiled.
Who may divine what thus disturbs thy heart,
Thus terrifies thy pure and sacred soul!

JOHANNA.
Thou art the pure, the holy one! Couldst thou
Behold mine inmost heart, thou, shuddering,
Wouldst fly the traitoress, the enemy!

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 4 SCENE 3 Maid of Orleans

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