Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, JOAN OF ARC: BOOK 10, by ROBERT SOUTHEY



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JOAN OF ARC: BOOK 10, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Thus to the martyrs in their country's cause
Last Line: Give to the arms of freedom such success.
Variant Title(s): The Crowning Of The King
Subject(s): Coronations; Creative Ability; England; Faith; France; Freedom; God; Heroism; Joan Of Arc (1412-1431); Missions & Missionaries; Victory; War; Inspiration; Creativity; English; Belief; Creed; Liberty; Heroes; Heroines


The English succours arrive. Battle of Patay. The King arrives. The Poem
concludes with the coronation of Charles at Rheims.

THUS to the martyrs in their country's cause
The Maiden gave their fame; and when she ceas'd,
Such murmur from the multitude arose,
As when at twilight hour the summer breeze
Moves o'er the elmy vale: there was not one
Who mourn'd with feeble sorrow for his friend,
Slain in the fight of freedom; or if chance
Remembrance with a tear suffus'd the eye,
The patriot's joy flash'd through.
And now the rites
Of sepulture perform'd, the hymn to heaven
They chanted. To the town the Maid return'd,
Dunois with her, and Richemont, and the man,
Conrade, whose converse most the Virgin lov'd.
They of pursuit, and of the future war
Sat communing; when loud the trumpet's voice
Proclaim'd approaching herald.
"To the Maid,"
Exclaim'd the messenger, "and thee, Dunois,
Son of the chief he loved! Du Chastel sends
Greeting. The aged warrior has not spared
All active efforts to partake your toil,
And serve his country; and though late arrived,
He share not in the fame your arms acquire,
His heart is glad that he is late arrived,
And France preserved thus early. He were here
To join your host, and follow on their flight,
But Richemont is his foe. To that high lord
Thus says my master: We, though each to each
Be hostile, are alike the embattled sons
Of this our common country. Do thou join
The conquering troops, and prosecute success;
I will the while assault what guarded towns
Bedford yet holds in Orleannois; one day,
Perhaps the constable of France may learn
He wrong'd Du Chastel."
As the herald spake,
The crimson current rush'd to Richemont's cheek.
"Tell to thy master," eager he replied,
"I am the foe of those court parasites
Who poison the king's ear. Him who shall serve
Our country in the field, I hold my friend:
Such may Du Chastel prove."
So said the chief,
And pausing as the herald went his way,
Gaz'd on the Virgin. "Maiden! if aright
I deem, thou dost not with a friendly eye
Scan my past deeds."
Then o'er the damsel's cheek
A faint glow spread. "True, chieftain!" she replied,
"Report bespeaks thee haughty, of thy power
Jealous, and to the shedding human blood
Revengeful."
"Maid of Orleans!" he exclaim'd,
"Should the wolf slaughter thy defenceless flock,
Were it a crime if thy more mighty force
Destroyed the fell destroyer? if thy hand
Had pierced the ruffian as he burst thy door
Prepar'd for midnight murder, wouldst thou feel
The weight of blood press heavy on thy soul?
I slew the wolves of state, the murderers
Of thousands. Joan! when rusted in its sheath
The sword of justice hung, blamest thou the man
That lent his weapon for the virtuous deed?"

Conrade replied. "Nay, Richemont, it were well
To pierce the ruffian as he burst thy doors;
But if he bear the plunder safely thence,
And thou shouldst meet him on the future day,
Vengeance must not be thine: there is the law
To punish; and if thy impatient hand,
Unheard and uncondemn'd, should execute
Death on that man, justice will not allow
The judge in the accuser!"
"Thou hast said
Right wisely, warrior!" cried the constable;
"But there are guilty ones above the law,
Men whose black crimes exceed the utmost bound
Of private guilt; court vermin that buzz round
And fly-blow the king's ear, and make him waste,
In this most perilous time, his people's wealth
And blood: immers'd one while in criminal sloth,
Heedless though ruin threat the realm they rule;
And now projecting some mad enterprise,
To certain slaughter send their wretched troops.
These are the men that make the king suspect
His wisest, faithfullest, best counsellors;
And for themselves and their dependents, seize
All places, and all profits; and they wrest
To their own ends the statutes of the land,
Or safely break them: thus, or indolent,
Or active, ruinous alike to France.
Wisely thou sayest, warrior, that the law
Should strike the guilty; but the voice of justice
Cries out, and brings conviction as it cries,
Whom the laws cannot reach the dagger should."

The Maid replied, "I blame thee not, oh chief!
If, reasoning to thine own conviction thus,
Thou didst, well-satisfied, destroy these men
Above the law: but if a meaner one,
Self-constituting him the minister
Of justice to the death of these bad men,
Had wrought the deed, him would the laws have seized,
And doom'd a murderer—thee, thy power preserved!
And what hast thou exampled? Thou hast taught
All men to execute what deeds of blood
Their will or passion sentence: right and wrong
Confounding thus, and making power of all
Sole arbiter. Thy acts were criminal;
Yet, Richemont, for thou didst them self-approved,
I may not blame the agent. Trust me, chief,
That when a people sorely are opprest,
The hour of violence will come too soon,
And he does wrong who hastens it. He best
Performs the patriot's and the good man's part,
Who, in the ear of rage and faction, breathes
The healing words of love."
Thus communed they:
Meantime, all panic-struck and terrified,
The English urge their flight; by other thoughts
Possess'd than when, elate with arrogance,
They dreamt of conquest, and the crown of France
At their disposal. Of their hard-fought fields,
Of glory hardly-earn'd, and lost with shame,
Of friends and brethren slaughter'd, and the fate
Threatening themselves, they brooded sadly, now
Repentant late and vainly. They whom fear
Erst made obedient to their conquering march,
At their defeat exultant, wreak what ills
Their power allow'd. Thus many a league they fled,
Marking their path with ruin, day by day
Leaving the weak and wounded destitute
To the foe's mercy; thinking of their home,
Though to that far-off prospect scarcely hope
Could raise her sickly eye. Oh then what joy
Inspir'd anew their bosoms, when, like clouds
Moving in shadows down the distant hill,
They mark'd their coming succours! in each heart
Doubt rais'd a busy tumult; soon they knew
The friendly standard, and a general shout
Burst from the joyful ranks; yet came no joy
To Talbot: he, with dark and downward brow,
Mused sternly, till at length arous'd to hope
Of vengeance, welcoming his warrior son,
He brake a sullen smile.
"Son of my age!
Welcome young Talbot to thy first of fields,
Thy father bids thee welcome, though disgraced,
Baffled, and flying from a woman's arm!
Yes, by my former glories, from a woman!
The scourge of France! the conqueror of men!
Flying before a woman! Son of Talbot,
Had the winds wafted thee a few days sooner,
Thou hadst seen me high in honour, and thy name
Alone had scattered armies; yet, my child,
I bid thee welcome! rest we here our flight,
And lift again the sword."
So spake the chief;
And well he counsell'd: for not yet the sun
Had reach'd meridian height, when, o'er the plain
Of Patay they beheld the troops of France
Speed in pursuit. Soon as the troops of France
Beheld the dark battalions of the foe
Shadowing the distant plain, a general shout
Burst from the expectant host, and on they prest,
Elate of heart and eager for the fight,
With clamours ominous of victory.
Thus urging on, one from the adverse host
Advanced to meet them: they his garb of peace
Knew, and they stayed them as the herald spake
His bidding to the chieftains. "Sirs," he cried,
"I bear defiance to you from the earl,
William of Suffolk. Here on this fit plain,
He wills to give you battle, power to power,
So please you, on the morrow."
"On the morrow
We will join battle, then," replied Dunois,
"And God befriend the right!" then on the herald
A robe rich-furred and broidered he bestowed,
A costly guerdon. Through the army spread
The unwelcome tidings of delay: possessed
With agitating hopes they felt the hours
Pass heavily; but soon the night waned on,
And the loud trumpets' blare from broken sleep
Roused them; a second time the thrilling blast
Bade them be armed, and at the third deep sound
They ranged them in their ranks. From man to man
With pious haste hurried the confessor
To shrive them, lest with unprepared souls
They to their death might go. Dunois meantime
Rode through the host; the shield of dignity
Before him borne, and in his hand he held
The white wand of command. The open helm
Disclosed that eye that tempered the strong lines
Of steady valour, to obedient awe
Winning the will's assent. To some he spake
Of late-earned glory; others, new to war,
He bade bethink them of the feats achieved
When Talbot, recreant to his former fame,
Fled from beleaguer'd Orleans. Was there one
Whom he had known in battle? by the hand
Him did he take, and bid him on that day
Summon his wonted courage, and once more
Support his chief and comrade. Happy he
Who caught his glance, or from the chieftain's lips
Heard his own name! joy more inspiriting
Fills not the Persian's soul, when sure he deems
That Mithra hears propitiously his prayer,
And o'er the scattered cloud of morning pours
A brighter ray responsive.
Then the host
Partook due food, this their last meal belike
Receiving with such thoughtful doubts, as make
The soul, impatient of uncertainty,
Rush eager to the event; prepared thus
Upon the grass the soldiers laid themselves,
Each in his station, waiting there the sound
Of onset, that in undiminished strength
Strong, they might meet the battle: silent some,
Pondering the chances of the coming day,
Some whiling with a careless gaiety
The fearful pause of action. Thus the French
In such array and high in confident hope
Await the signal; whilst, with other thoughts,
And ominous awe, once more the invading host
Prepare them in the field of fight to meet
The Maid of God. Collected in himself
Appeared the might of Talbot. Through the ranks
He stalks, reminds them of their former fame,
Their native land, their homes, the friends they loved,
All the rewards of this day's victory.
But awe had fill'd the English, and they struck
Faintly their shields; for they who had beheld
The hallowed banner with celestial light
Irradiate, and the missioned Maiden's deeds,
Felt their hearts sink within them, at the thought
Of her near vengeance; and the tale they told
Roused such a tumult in the new-come troops,
As fitted them for fear. The aged chief
Beheld their drooping valour: his stern brow,
Wrinkled with thought, bewray'd his inward doubts:
Still he was firm, though all might fly, resolved
That Talbot should retrieve his old renown,
And period life with glory. Yet some hope
Inspired the veteran, as across the plain
Casting his eye, he marked the embattled strength
Of thousands; archers of unequalled skill,
Brigans, and pikemen, from whose lifted points
A fearful radiance flashed, and young esquires,
And high-born warriors, bright in blazoned arms.
Nor few, nor fameless were the English chiefs:
In many a field victorious, he was there,
The gartered Fastolffe; Hungerford, and Scales,
Men who had seen the hostile squadrons fly
Before the arms of England. Suffolk there,
The haughty chieftain towered; blest had he fallen
Ere yet a courtly minion he was marked
By public hatred, and the murderer's name!
There, too, the son of Talbot, young in arms,
Moved eager, he, at many a tournament,
With matchless force, had pointed his strong lance,
O'er all opponents, victor: confident
In strength, and jealous of his future fame,
His heart beat high for battle. Such array
Of marshalled numbers fought not on the field
Of Crecy, nor at Poictiers; nor such force
Led Henry to the fight of Azincour,
When thousands fell before him.
Onward move
The host of France. It was a goodly sight
To see the embattled pomp, as with the step
Of stateliness the barbed steeds came on:
To see the pennons rolling their long waves
Before the gale; and banners broad and bright
Tossing their blazonry; and high-plumed chiefs;
Vidames, and seneschals, and chastellains,
Gay with their bucklers' gorgeous heraldry,
And silken surcoats on the buoyant wind
Billowing.
And now the knights of France dismount,
For not to brutal strength they deemed it right
To trust their fame and their dear country's weal;
Rather to manly courage, and the glow
Of honourable thoughts, such as inspire
Ennobling energy. Unhors'd, unspurr'd,
Their javelins lessen'd to a wieldy length,
They to the foe advanced. The Maid alone,
Conspicuous on a coal-black courser, meets
The war. They moved to battle with such sound
As rushes o'er the vaulted firmament,
When from his seat, on the utmost verge of heaven
That overhangs the void, father of winds!
Dræsvelger starting, rears his giant bulk,
And from his eagle pinions shakes the storm.
High on her stately steed the martial Maid
Rode foremost of the war: her burnish'd arms
Shone like the brook that o'er its pebbled course
Runs glittering gaily to the noon-tide sun.
Her foaming courser, of the guiding hand
Impatient, smote the earth, and toss'd his mane,
And rear'd aloft with many a froward bound,
Then answered to the rein with such a step,
As, in submission, he were proud to show
His unsubdued strength. Slow on the air
Waved the white plumes that shadow'd o'er her helm.
Even such, so fair, so terrible in arms
Pelides moved from Scyros, where, conceal'd
He lay obedient to his mother's fears
A seemly virgin; thus the youth appear'd
Terribly graceful, when upon his neck
Deidameia hung, and with a look
That spake the tumult of her troubled soul,
Fear, anguish, and upbraiding tenderness,
Gazed on the father of her unborn babe.

An English knight, who, eager for renown,
Late left his peaceful mansion, mark'd the Maid.
Her power miraculous, and fearful deeds,
He from the troops had heard incredulous,
And scoff'd their easy fears, and vow'd that he,
Proving the magic of this dreaded girl
In equal battle, would dissolve the spell,
Powerless oppos'd to valour. Forth he spurr'd
Before the ranks; she mark'd the coming foe,
And fix'd her lance in rest, and rush'd along.
Midway they met; full on her buckler driven,
Shiver'd the English spear: her better force
Drove the brave foeman senseless from his seat.
Headlong he fell, nor ever to the sense
Of shame awoke, for rushing multitudes
Soon crush'd the helpless warrior.
Then the Maid
Rode through the thickest battle: fast they fell,
Pierced by her forceful spear. Amid the troops
Plunged her strong war-horse, by the noise of arms
Elate and rous'd to rage, he tramples o'er,
Or with the lance protended from his front,
Thrusts dawn the thronging squadrons. Where she turns
The foe tremble and die. Such ominous fear
Seizes the traveller o'er the trackless sands,
Who marks the dread simoom across the waste
Sweep its swift pestilence: to earth he falls,
Nor dares give utterance to the inward prayer,
Deeming the genius of the desert breathes
The purple blast of death.
Such was the sound
As when the tempest, mingling air and sea,
Flies o'er the uptorn ocean: dashing high
Their foamy heads amid the incumbent clouds,
The madden'd billows, with their deafening roar,
Drown the loud thunder's peal. In every form
Of horror, death was there. They fall, transfix'd
By the random arrow's point, or fierce-thrust lance,
Or sink, all battered by the ponderous mace:
Some from their coursers thrown, lie on the earth,
Unwieldy in their arms, that, weak to save,
Protracted all the agonies of death.
But most the English fell, by their own fears
Betrayed; for fear the evil that it dreads
Increases. Even the chiefs, who many a day
Had met the war and conquered, trembled now,
Appall'd by her, the Maid miraculous.
As the blood-nurtured monarch of the wood,
That o'er the wilds of Afric, in his strength
Resistless ranges, when the mutinous clouds
Burst, and the lightnings through the midnight sky
Dart their red fires, lies fearful in his den,
And howls in terror to the passing storm.

But Talbot, fearless where the bravest feared,
Mowed down the hostile ranks. The chieftain stood
Like the strong oak, amid the tempest's rage,
That stands unharm'd, and while the forest falls,
Uprooted round, lifts its high head aloft,
And nods majestic to the warring wind.
He fought, resolved to snatch the shield of death
And shelter him from shame. The very herd
Who fought near Talbot, though the Virgin's name
Made their cheeks pale, and drove the curdling blood
Back to their hearts, caught from his daring deeds
New force, and went like eaglets to the prey
Beneath their mother's wing: to him they look'd,
Their tower of strength, and followed where his sword
Made through the foe a way. Nor did the son
Of Talbot shame his lineage; by his sire
Emulous he strove, like the young lionet
When first he bathes his murderous jaws in blood.
They fought intrepid, though amid their ranks
Fear and confusion triumphed; for such awe
Possess'd the English, as the Etruscans felt,
When self-devoted to the infernal gods
The galiant Decius stood before the troops,
Robed in the victim garb of sacrifice,
And spake aloud, and call'd the shadowy powers
To give to Rome the conquest, and receive
Their willing prey; then rush'd amid the foe,
And died upon the hecatombs he slew.

But hope inspir'd the assailants. Xaintrailles there
Spread fear and death; and Orleans' valiant son
Fought as when Warwick fled before his arm.
O'er all pre-eminent for hardiest deeds
Was Conrade. Where he drove his battle-axe,
Weak was the buckler or the helm's defence,
Hauberk, or plated mail; through all it pierced,
Resistless as the forked flash of heaven.
The death-doom'd foe, who mark'd the coming chief,
Felt such a chill run through his shivering frame,
As the night traveller of the Pyrenees,
Lone and bewildered on his wintry way,
When from the mountains round reverberates
The hungry wolves' deep yell; on every side,
Their fierce eyes gleaming as with meteor fires,
The famish'd troop come round: the affrighted mule
Snorts loud with terror, on his shuddering limbs
The big sweat starts, convulsive pant his sides,
Then on he rushes, wild in desperate speed.

Him dealing death an English knight beheld,
And spurr'd his steed to crush him: Conrade leap'd
Lightly aside, and through the warrior's greeves
Fixed a deep wound: nor longer could the foe,
Tortur'd with anguish, guide his mettled horse,
Or his rude plunge endure; headlong he fell,
And perish'd. In his castle-hall was hung
On high his father's shield, with many a dint
Graced on the blood-drench'd field of Azincour:
His deeds the son had heard; and when a boy,
Listening delighted to the old man's tale
His little hand would lift the weighty spear
In warlike pastime: he had left behind
An infant offspring, and did fondly deem
He, too, in age, the exploits of his youth
Should tell, and in the stripling's bosom rouse
The fire of glory.
Conrade the next foe
Smote where the heaving membrane separates
The chambers of the trunk. The dying man,
In his lord's castle dwelt, for many a year,
A well-beloved servant: he could sing
Carols for Shrove-tide, or for Candlemas,
Songs for the Wassail, and when the boar's head,
Crown'd with gay garlands, and with rosemary,
Smoked on the Christmas board: he went to war
Following the lord he loved, and saw him fall
Beneath the arm of Conrade, and expir'd,
Slain on his master's body.
Nor the fight
Was doubtful long. Fierce on the invading host
Press the French troops impetuous, as of old,
When, pouring o'er his legion slaves on Greece,
The Eastern despot bridged the Hellespont,
The rushing sea against the mighty pile
Roll'd its full weight of waters; far away
The fearful satrap mark'd on Asia's coasts
The floating fragments, and with ominous fear
Trembled for the great king.
Still Talbot strove,
His foot firm planted, his uplifted shield
Fencing that breast that never yet had known
The throb of fear. But when the warrior's eye,
Quick glancing round the fight, beheld the foe
Pressing to conquest, and his heartless troops
Striking with feebler force in backward step,
Then o'er his cheek he felt the patriot flush
Of shame, and loud he lifted up his voice,
And cried, "Fly, cravens! leave your aged chief
Here in the front to perish! his old limbs
Are not like yours, so supple in the flight,
Go tell your countrymen how ye escaped
When Talbot fell!"
In vain the warrior spake,
In the uproar of the fight his voice was lost;
And they, the nearest, who had heard, beheld
The martial Maid approach, and every thought
Was overwhelm'd in terror. But the son
Of Talbot marked her thus across the plain
Careering fierce in conquest, and the hope
Of glory rose within him. Her to meet
He spurr'd his horse, by one decisive deed
Or to retrieve the battle, or to fall
With honour. Each beneath the other's blow
Bowed down; their lances shivered with the shock:
To earth their coursers fell: at once they rose,
He from the saddle-bow his falchion caught
Rushing to closer combat, and she bared
The lightning of her sword. In vain the youth
Essayed to pierce those arms that even the power
Of time was weak to injure: she the while
Through many a wound beheld her foeman's blood
Ooze fast. "Yet save thee, warrior!" cried the Maid,
"Me canst thou not destroy: be timely wise,
And live!" He answered not, but lifting high
His weapon, drove with fierce and forceful arm
Full on the Virgin's helm: fire from her eyes
Flash'd with the stroke: one step she back recoiled,
Then in his breast plunged deep the sword of death.

Him falling Talbot saw. On the next foe,
With rage and anguish wild, the warrior turned;
His ill-directed weapon to the earth
Drove down the unwounded Frank: he lifts the sword
And through his all-in-vain imploring hands
Cleaves the poor suppliant. On that dreadful day
The sword of Talbot, clogged with hostile gore,
Made good its vaunt. Amid the heaps his arm
Had slain, the chieftain stood and swayed around
His furious strokes: nor ceased he from the fight,
Though now discomfited the English troops
Fled fast, all panic-struck and spiritless;
And mingling with the routed, Fastolffe fled,
Fastolffe, all fierce and haughty as he was,
False to his former fame; for he beheld
The Maiden rushing onward, and such fear
Ran through his frame, as thrills the African,
When, grateful solace in the sultry hour,
He rises on the buoyant billow's breast,
If then his eye behold the monster shark
Gape eager to devour.
But Talbot now
A moment paused, for bending thitherwards
He mark'd a warrior, such as well might ask
His utmost force. Of strong and stately port
The onward foeman moved, and bore on high
A battle-axe, in many a field of blood
Known by the English chieftain. Over heaps
Of slaughtered, strode the Frank, and bade the troops
Retire from the bold earl: then Conrade spake.
"Vain is thy valour, Talbot! look around,
See where thy squadrons fly! but thou shalt lose
No glory by their cowardice subdued,
Performing well thyself the soldier's part."

"And let them fly!" the indignant earl exclaimed,
"And let them fly! but bear thou witness, chief!
That guiltless of this day's disgrace, I fall.
But, Frenchman! Talbot will not tamely fall,
Or unrevenged."
So saying, for the war
He stood prepared: nor now with heedless rage
The champions fought, for either knew full well
His foeman's prowess: now they aim the blow
Insidious, with quick change then drive the steel
Fierce on the side exposed. The unfaithful arms
Yield to the strong-driven edge; the blood streams down
Their battered mails. With swift eye Conrade marked
The lifted buckler, and beneath impell'd
His battle-axe; that instant on his helm
The sword of Talbot fell, and with the blow
Shivered. "Yet yield thee, Englishman!" exclaimed
The generous Frank—"vain is this bloody strife:
Me shouldst thou conquer, little would my death
A vail thee, weak and wounded!"
"Long enough
Talbot has lived," replied the sullen chief:
"His hour is come; yet shalt not thou survive
To glory in his fall!" So, as he spake,
He lifted from the ground a massy spear,
And rushed again to battle.
Now more fierce
The conflict raged, for careless of himself,
And desperate, Talbot fought. Collected still
Was Conrade. Wheresoe'er his foeman aimed
His barbed javelin, there he swung around
The guardian shield: the long and vain assault
Exhausted Talbot now; foredone with toil
He bare his buckler low for weariness,
His buckler now splintered with many a stroke
Fell piecemeal; from his riven arms the blood
Streamed fast: and now the Frenchman's battle-axe
Drove unresisted through the shieldless mail.
Backward the Frank recoiled. "Urge not to death
This fruitless contest," cried he; "live, oh chief!
Are there not those in England who would feel
Keen anguish at thy loss? a wife perchance
Who trembles for thy safety, or a child
Needing a father's care!"
Then Talbot's heart
Smote him. "Warrior!" he cried, "if thou dost think
That life is worth preserving, hie thee hence,
And save thyself: I loath this useless talk."

So saying, he addressed him to the fight,
Impatient of existence: from their arms
Flashed fire, and quick they panted; but not long
Endured the deadly combat. With full force
Down through his shoulder even to the chest,
Conrade impelled the ponderous battle-axe;
And at that instant underneath his shield
Received the hostile spear. Prone fell the earl,
Even in his death rejoicing that no foe
Should live to boast his fall.
Then with faint hand
Conrade unlaced his helm, and from his brow
Wiping the cold dews, ominous of death,
He laid him on the earth, thence to remove,
While the long lance hung heavy in his side,
Powerless. As thus beside his lifeless foe
He lay, the herald of the English earl
With faltering step drew near, and when he saw
His master's arms, "Alas! and is it you,
My lord?" he cried. "God pardon you your sins!
I have been forty years your officer,
And time it is I should surrender now
The ensigns of my office!" So he said,
And paying thus his rite of sepulture,
Threw o'er the slaughtered chief his blazoned coat.
Then Conrade thus bespake him: "Englishman,
Do for a dying soldier one kind act!
Seek for the Maid of Orleans, bid her haste
Hither, and thou shalt gain what recompence
It pleases thee to ask."
The herald soon
Meeting the missioned Virgin, told his tale.
Trembling she hastened on, and when she knew
The death-pale face of Conrade, scarce could Joan
Lift up the expiring warrior's heavy hand,
And press it to her heart.
"I sent for thee,
My friend!" with interrupted voice he cried,
"That I might comfort this my dying hour
With one good deed. A fair domain is mine;
Let Francis and his Isabel possess
That, mine inheritance." He paused awhile
Struggling for utterance; then with breathless speed,
And pale as him he mourned for, Francis came,
And hung in silence o'er the blameless man,
Even with a brother's sorrow: he pursued,
"This Joan will be thy care. I have at home
An aged mother—Francis, do thou soothe
Her childless age. Nay, weep not for me thus:
Sweet to the wretched is the tomb's repose!"

So saying, Conrade drew the javelin forth
And died without a groan.
By this the scouts,
Forerunning the king's march, upon the plain
Of Patay had arrived; of late so gay
With marshalled thousands in their radiant arms,
And streamers glittering in the noon-tide sun,
And blazon'd shields, and gay accoutrements,
The pageantry of murder: now defiled
With mingled dust and blood, and broken arms,
And mangled bodies. Soon the monarch joins
His victor army. Round the royal flag,
Uprear'd in conquest now, the chieftains flock,
Proffering their eager service. To his arms,
Or wisely fearful, or by speedy force
Compelled, the embattled towns submit and own
Their rightful king. Baugenci strives in vain:
Jenville and Mehun yield; from Sully's wall
Hurl'd is the bannered lion: on they pass.
Auxerre, and Troyes, and Chalons, ope their gates,
And by the mission'd Maiden's rumoured deeds
Inspirited, the citizens of Rheims
Feel their own strength; against the English troops
With patriot valour, irresistible,
They rise, they conquer, and to their liege lord
Present the city keys.
The morn was fair
When Rheims re-echoed to the busy hum
Of multitudes, for high solemnity
Assembled. To the holy fabric moves
The long procession, through the streets bestrewn
With flowers and laurel boughs. The courtier throng
Were there, and they in Orleans, who endured
The siege right bravely; Gaucour, and La Hire
The gallant Xaintrailles, Boussac, and Chabannes,
La Fayette, name that freedom still shall love,
Alencon, and the bravest of the brave,
The Bastard Orleans, now in hope elate,
Soon to release from hard captivity
A dear-beloved brother; gallant men,
And worthy of eternal memory;
For they, in the most perilous times of France,
Despaired not of their country. By the king
The delegated damsel passed along
Clad in her battered arms. She bore on high
Her hallowed banner to the sacred pile,
And fixed it on the altar, whilst her hand
Poured on the monarch's head the mystic oil,
Wafted of yore by milk-white dove from heaven,
(So legends say) to Clovis, when he stood
At Rheims for baptism; dubious since that day,
When Tolbiac plain reek'd with his warriors' blood,
And fierce upon their flight the Alemanni prest,
And reared the shout of triumph; in that hour
Clovis invoked aloud the Christian God,
And conquered: waked to wonder thus, the chief
Became love's convert, and Clotilda led
Her husband to the font.
The missioned Maid
Then placed on Charles's brow the crown of France,
And back retiring, gazed upon the king
One moment, quickly scanning all the past,
Till, in a tumult of wild wonderment,
She wept aloud. The assembled multitude
In awful stillness witnessed: then at once,
As with a tempest rushing noise of winds,
Lifted their mingled clamours. Now the Maid
Stood as prepared to speak, and waved her hand,
And instant silence followed.
"King of France!"
She cried, "at Chinon, when my gifted eye
Knew thee disguised, what inwardly the Spirit
Prompted, I spake—armed with the sword of God,
To drive from Orleans far the English wolves,
And crown thee in the rescued walls of Rheims.
All is accomplished. I have here this day
Fulfilled my mission, and anointed thee
Chief servant of the people. Of this charge,
Or well performed or wickedly, high heaven
Shall take account. If that thine heart be good,
I know no limit to the happiness
Thou mayest create. I do beseech thee, king!"
The Maid exclaimed, and fell upon the ground
And clasped his knees, "I do beseech thee, king!
By all the millions that depend on thee
For weal or woe, consider what thou art,
And know thy duty! If thou dost oppress
Thy people, if to aggrandize thyself
Thou tearest them from their homes, and sendest them
To slaughter, prodigal of misery!
If, when the widow and orphan groan
In want and wretchedness, thou turnest thee
To hear the music of the flatterer's tongue;
If, when thou hear'st of thousands massacred,
Thou sayest, 'I am a king, and fit it is
That these should perish for me!' if thy realm
Should, through the counsels of thy government,
Be filled with woe, and in thy streets be heard
The voice of mourning and the feeble cry
Of asking hunger; if at such a time
Thou dost behold thy plenty-covered board,
And shroud thee in thy robes of royalty,
And say that all is well; Oh, gracious God!
Be merciful to such a monstrous man,
When the spirits of the murdered innocent
Cry at thy throne for justice!
King of France!
Protect the lowly, feed the hungry ones,
And be the orphan's father! Thus shalt thou
Become the representative of heaven,
And gratitude and love establish thus
Thy reign. Believe me, king, that hireling guards,
Though fleshed in slaughter, would be weak to save
A tyrant on the blood-cemented throne
That totters underneath him."
Thus the Maid
Redeemed her country. Ever may the All-just
Give to the arms of freedom such success.





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