It’s a beautiful fact that Christine de Pisan, author of The City of Ladies, etc., lived to see St. Joan of Arc saving her country and wrote a poem about it while it was still going on. (I don’t think we know if she lived to see Joan captured or executed; it hadn’t happened yet when she wrote this. I’ve kinda cheated by making the “examination by the Dauphin’s guys” also refer to “torment in prison by the Rouen guys”.)
This is just a tiny excerpt from late in the poem. I’m not even trying to translate it in a scholarly, accurate way; I’m trying to turn this excerpt into a hymn for St. Joan. So I’ve taken some serious liberties — and obviously, no present tense as in the original! (Or snarky comments about the English, either.)
Remember D-Day, and the liberation of France.
Excerpts from “Ditie de Jehanne d’Arc”
by Christine de Pisan
Translation: Maureen O’Brien, 6/6/08
Oh, Esther, Judith, and Deborah,
They were women of great worth
And through them, God worked as restorer
Of His people’s freedom on earth.
And I’ve heard of other ladies,
Wise and skilled, to whom God gave aid
And through whom He worked many wonders —
But He has done more through this Maid.
By a miracle, by an angel,
And by God’s almighty command,
Sent to France’s true king to help him
And to put the crown in his hand,
She was tried by priests and wise men,
To catch her in lies and in sin.
But now history sings of her rise, and
Her great cause was destined to win.
And her lovely life showed with beauty
She was in God’s favor and grace.
By the way she lived out her duty
She showed many, clearly, God’s face.
For no matter what she was doing,
She kept her eyes fixed on the Lord
Whom she prayed to, and whom she called on,
Serving Him in deed and in word.