Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc)...A Poem



Who was this maid that heard the voice of god?

A faithless age like ours must speak delusion,

impairment of some kind, that it may not be seen

bereft of sensibility. We tear down

that which we cannot see, cannot hear, cannot be,

our measure most untaken by such increment,

the shallow, sickened lesions of our brain.


How does delusion lead an army against the daunting foe...

and win! We know what resides in hallowed precincts deep within.

It is life's ecstasy we feel, when we allow it to come through.

It is there in our love of truth and beauty,

no matter what a haggard world may say in throes of death,

dishonesty, try to draw us to. We live, we feel the hand,

the breath, the force of god within; it is the urge to do,

to think, to feel, to see, to win, to understand.


It is this that led the maid. A thing, a way most natural,

the source of stars, the source of all. The difference is,

she listened well, felt the voices dwelling in our soul.

They desire to speak, be heard above the blank, contentious din

of a conniving world. They summon us to hear.

If she was the purer vessel, or more in need, or open

to their dialogue than we, what great honor was this done,

that she should be such sacred center, Mary chosen for the child.


Does it really take so much to sense the force that in us dwells,

see it in the world, all round; the energy?

Artists, poets see, have ever seen what Joan,

prophets, seers see. However faulty as a maker --

god too readily wounds and kills his own,

prefers debased alloy in man to golden purity –

this creation is magnificent...the birds, the sky,

the famous rocks and rooted, reaching tree.

For all of evil in the world, beauty yet convenes,

condenses, on occasion, in a single point like Joan

that fills the void in all of us that longs for light

and decency. Truth proves what man could always be.


She implores a king to give an army; she, a child in years,

implores a king to yield her horses, men and armament.

And he does! She leads them into battle, gains her victory

(how does this girl imbue French soldiers with her cause,

but by strength of her belief? What else convinces warriors

to follow a child?). The English clearly see her league with god,

flee the field before the armored maid appears.


How good this child, how vile the world and those

that finally kill her to maintain their own crass pose.

She is so near to god; the killer churchmen are so far.

They force her to recant her voices, communication

straight from god they cannot hear in their poor prayers

and thought-poor, parchment minds.

But, in the end, cell-torture cannot kill the truth

that lives within. She re-verifies her voices

despite a world that taints and murders everything.


They take her to the stake, this child who never sees

two decades' age – like those cancer-hung, bald and pale,

upon a modern cross. They tie her to a stake

atop piled brush and timber, dead and dry.

Desiccated minds destroy the tree of life,

turn living green to sterile stake and crucifix

that tell the dead space in their hearts. This evil kills

the child as much as any fire. Empty men

of empty honor and position kill the truth within,

the child, the babe of Bethlehem; kill the child of truth,

the ever-living moment that is the core of life.


Smoke chokes and swirls, a shroud of whirling, wind-borne lust;

heat and flame mount high toward absent god; snap, crackle, pop

become a roar. The hopeless prayer – where now is god

who urged her quest, helped Joan win against an English foe?

The abject, hapless whimper turns a shrieking scream

that tops the rutting, grunting flame and glinting arrogance.

Fair youth is vanquished by self-indulgent righteousness.

They have overcome their own demise; the venal death

of younger others supplants, they think, their destiny.


They yet maintain their power over all...except themselves

and random god that still is not denied. He will find

his vessels, find the pure in heart through which to pour

his thoughts, like strainers through, in vain utensil sacrifice.

And they will ever hear, then tell of what he speaks.

Woe to those who stain this sacred impudence.

Only god can murder with impunity (if loss of faith,

contempt for universal way of death and cruelness

cannot stay the horror of his hand).

Woe to all voice-tellers, too, for they must try

to tell of god and good a world that seeks their death,

must seek their death to hide its own impoverishment.








Copyright by Don Gray


Don Gray Art  •  Poems