Joan of Arc before execution, by Isodore Patrois‘The Trial of Saint Joan of Arc (d. 30 May 1431)’ by Theresa Rodriguez The Society July 22, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 9 Comments You had to act, because you heard the voices Within your head. Saint Michael came to you, Saints Catherine and Margaret. But what choices Did you have? You knew them to be true, Not demons or deceit or rank delusion, But speaking straight from God Himself. How bold You were to listen and to act. Conviction Had led you to an ultimate conclusion Of capture, trial, suffering untold As you were burned in perverse benediction. How strange a concept that someone can die So horrible a death for just belief Or courage of conviction. You did try To fight the inquiry without aid or relief, The men who could not bear a different way Of thinking or of acting. “You’re deceived! Demonic! Under Satan! An apostate! You have led the very world astray!” All because you acted and believed, You then became the object of such hate! In retrospect it seems it was a crime To be a woman, different and strong, Living well beyond the norms of time, Defying convention as you went along. How threatening to patriarchal power Was one young, teenage female. Can it be That just because you fought with all your might The whole counsel of men sought to devour And destroy you? You could not be free To live; who was the one that was not right? So many men against one little foe! Almost still a girl! But not so much In influence and power. And although You were unusual, your life would touch Your countrymen and women, who would see In you a budding saint, who saw and heard The world of angels, seeking yet the voice Of God above all others. Fervently You tried to be obedient to His word As you did know it, for this was your choice. “If I am not in grace, God place me there,” You spoke of the salvation of your soul. “And if I am in grace, pray, keep me where I am with Him.” You jostled up the whole Of argument and all theology Because you spoke the simple truth. Confound The wise in all their own conceits! And when You stumped them, speaking wisdom forcefully, Enough for them to ponder all around: A teenage girl against a horde of men. But sadly because you would not heed or bend, You broke the rules until it was too late; You then were relegated to your end: A stake and fire, this would be your fate. By burning bodies somehow sin will cease? Somehow it stops the greater fires of hell? A force-based, threatening theology, And not free will, will never, ever cease To stop conviction, as we see too well, When voices thus combine with zealotry. But in the end you were not relegated Among the damned and reprobate. We see How now you have been wholly vindicated By changing tides and course of history. At first exonerated of all crime, Then by a change of thought was glorified, The judge’s folly thus was realized. Made martyress by passing of the time, And then by certain rite beatified, Then ultimately you were canonized. What can we glean from you, in looking back? Can we be glad for freedom of the will Which we do have today? Do we still lack A greater liberty? Is thinking still Repressed and persecuted? Can there be No room for differences or points of view? Are there still inquisitions? Do we spurn What we don’t understand? Or do we see That we can all be wrong, or not all true? Or is this something we can never learn? Theresa Rodriguez is the author of Jesus and Eros: Sonnets, Poems and Songs, a collection of 65 sonnets soon being released in a second edition by Shanti Arts, and her third book of poetry, entitled Longer Thoughts, which has just been released by Shanti Arts. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Religion and Intellectual Life, the Midwest Poetry Review, Leaf Magazine, Spindrift, the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship, The Road Not Taken: A Journal of Formal Poetry, Mezzo Cammin, The Epoch Times, and the Society of Classical Poets. Her website is www.bardsinger.com. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 9 Responses Julian D. Woodruff July 22, 2020 A great saint and a timely tribute to her, Ms Rodriguez. Thank you! Reply Theresa Rodriguez July 22, 2020 Thank you very much, Julian! Reply Joseph S. Salemi July 22, 2020 A very nice tribute to the Maid of Orleans. One minor cavil: the charge of “heresy” brought against Joan was just a cover-story, or what intelligence services today would call “disinformation propaganda.” Nobody on either side of the dispute took it seriously. Her death was sought for political reasons by both the English and the Burgundians, and the “heresy trial” was just a sham, very much like the Moscow Purge trials of the 1930s. Compliant clergy went along with the charade, just as they generally do today in the face of governmental power. I’d suggest one change in the second stanza, line 7, for metrical purposes: Demonic! Under Satan! An apostate! By adding the “An” in front of “apostate” you make the meter smooth, which as the line now stands is clunky. The stresses should be: u X u X u X u u u X u You need this, because the stress on “a – POS – tate” is very strong, and makes up for the three unstressed syllables that proceed it. It gives the line eleven syllables, but that is perfectly acceptable in iambic pentameter. Reply Theresa Rodriguez July 22, 2020 Thank you for the much-appreciated history clarification and the suggestion about adding “An” to line 7 of the second stanza, Dr. Salemi. I have asked Evan to amend it. Reply Margaret Coats July 23, 2020 There are many good observations here about Saint Joan and her trial. In fact, I wonder whether this might be, in this centenary year of her canonization, just a portion of a longer work on the saint? I hope so, because the limit on the topic here, and the veneer of contemporary feminism, seem to weaken the treatment of this unique figure. “Living well beyond the norms of time” is a splendid line if it means Joan lived by the norms of eternity, but rather dull if it means that she lived by the norms of modernity. If she was waiting for the world to value women in the way most conventional thinking now does, we can offer her a little retrospective sympathy as a victim, but she’s no hero. This poem gives her due credit for fidelity to God and her voices, but also seems to look at her as someone who would face few problems in a present-day court of law. Still, doesn’t fidelity like Joan’s get heroic men and women into trouble today? I miss here what was the most remarkable feature of Joan’s trial, noticed as such even by the Pope who vindicated her in what should have been her own lifetime. That inquiry was requested by Joan’s mother, and neighbors who knew her vouched for her goodness. Joan’s uniqueness in the trial by her enemies was her supernatural astuteness. She may have been a simple girl, but the lawyers were utterly unable to trip her up in her answers. Indeed, she forced them to change their line of questioning over and over again. Patriarchy was not Joan’s foe. She was not a rule-breaker; she testified that at home, she loved women’s work and did it well. Not a modern feminist either, clearly. This poem beautifully quotes her wise lines about the state of her soul–a question that even theologians can stumble over. Joan had the freedom of will that God gave to Eve, but she used it far better. She was not persecuted for free thinking, but because she created practical problems for the captors who were her judges. Fair treatment of such people as Joan is not unlearnable, but it is one of those lessons every generation has to learn again. Reply Joseph S. Salemi July 24, 2020 True. Joan was never a feminist in any modern sense of the term. In fact, she would have turned from modern feminism with complete disgust. Reply Theresa Rodriguez July 24, 2020 Thank you Margaret for you kind words and thought-provoking comments! I appreciate it very much. Reply C.B. Anderson July 23, 2020 A simple, rather trivial note on diction: in the last line of stanza 5 you wrote “hoard” where “horde” should have been instead. The rest of the poem delves deeper into profound realities than anything else of yours I have read on this site. Reply Theresa Rodriguez July 24, 2020 Thank you, C.B., for your correction, I appreciate it very much. I will ask Evan to amend it. 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