Herstory III: Jehanne de Lorraine

Stage composition by Elizabeth Walton Vercoe (b. 1941)

Word count: 1135

1. ... [sung text checked 1 time]

[ ... ]

Et Jeanne, la bonne Lorraine
Qu'Anglais brûlèrent à Rouen ;
Où sont-ils, où, Vierge souvraine ?
Mais où sont les neiges d'antan ?
[ ... ]

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , "Ballad of the ladies of long ago", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. I have labored sore and suffered death[sung text checked 1 time]

I have labored sore and suffered death, 
And now I rest and draw my breath; 
But I shall come and call right soon 
Heaven and earth and hell to doom; 
And then shall know both devil and man 
What I was and what I am.

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Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

3. They call me Jenny in Lorraine[sung text checked 1 time]

They call me Jenny in Lorraine. 
In France I am Joan.  
The soldiers call me The Maid.
When I was thirteen I saw a most strange thing, 
for I saw a white shadow come slowly gliding 
along the grass, and the whiteness of the shadow 
was not like any other whiteness that we 
know, except it be the whiteness of the lightnings.  
My breath grew faint with the terror and the awe.

And with the shadow came speech, several saints, 
and they spoke to me.  (They are very dear to me
-- my voices.)

And the voices told me that I, Joan, must go away, 
and that I must come to France and that 
my father must know nothing of my leaving, 
that I should find soldiers and that I should lift the 
siege on the city of Orléans, and that I should 
lead the Dauphin to crown him King of France 
in the city of Reims and that I should 
drive the English from French soil.

I was a child and I was afraid.  But St. Michael 
told me to come to the aid of the king.  And he 
told me the pity that was in the kingdom of France.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Note: this is a prose text. The line-breaks were added to allow translations to appear easily in parallel.


Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

4. Look on thy country, look on fertile France[sung text checked 1 time]

JOAN LA PUCELLE
Look on thy country, look on fertile France,
And see the cities and the towns defaced
By wasting ruin of the cruel foe.
As looks the mother on her lowly babe
When death doth close his tender dying eyes,
See, see the pining malady of France;
[Behold the wounds, the most unnatural wounds,
Which thou thyself hast given her woful breast.
O, turn thy edged sword another way;
Strike those that hurt, and hurt not those that help.
One drop of blood drawn from thy country's bosom
Should grieve thee more than streams of foreign gore:
Return thee therefore with a flood of tears,
And wash away thy country's stained spots.]1

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1 omitted by Vercoe.

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

5. La France nous appelle[sung text checked 1 time]

La France nous appelle,                                
Sachons vaincre ou sachons périr;                     
Un Français doit vivre pour elle,                      
Pour elle un Français doit mourir.

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Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

6. I am a soldier[sung text checked 1 time]

I am a soldier. 
I will never take a husband. 
I do not want to be thought of as a woman. 
I will not dress as a woman. 
I do not care for the things women care for. 
They dream of lovers and money. 
I dream of leading a charge, and of placing the big guns. 
I am not a daredevil:  I am a servant of God. 
My sword is sacred and I may not strike a blow with it. 
My heart is full of courage, not of anger.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

7. Gentle little Dauphin -- Come, come from behind

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Gentle little Dauphin -- Come, come from behind: 
I know thee well, though never seen before. 
I have a message to thee from God. 
And thou must listen to it, though thy heart break with the terror of it.

I am sent to drive the English away from Orléans and from France 
and to crown thee king in the cathedral of Reims. 
One thousand like me can stop the English; 
Ten like me can stop them with God on our side.

Ask me what questions thou canst 
And I will answer unpremeditated. 
My courage try by combat if thou dar'st 
And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex.

The text shown is a variant of another text.
It is based on

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]


Now lift up thy head, give me men-at-arms, 
and let me get about my work.
You wish to have me examined first by 
theologians at Poitiers? 
I, who am come to be the English scourge?

Oh very well.  (to audience) 
They would know if my voices are God's or Satan's.

I willingly tell them anything, not all, that I 
know. But it is most tiresome. One Brother Séguin 
asked many nagging questions such as, "Did my 
voices speak good French?" Mon Dieu! I answered 
the sour little man speaking in his bastard Limousin 
tongue, "As to that, I believe I cannot say.  Still it 
was an improvement on yours."

Then they asked how St. Michael looked when he 
appeared to me.  I said I saw no crown and remember 
nothing of his clothes.  Pressed to say if he was naked, 
I retorted, "Do you think God cannot afford to 
clothe him?"

These wearisome questions!  And while the 
clerics ponder, Orléans starves and the English 
prevail.

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Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

8. The rats were devouring the house[sung text checked 1 time]

The rats were devouring the house, 
but instead of examining the cat's teeth 
and the cat's claws, 
they only concerned themselves 
to find out if it was a holy cat, 
a pious cat, a moral cat...

Authorship

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Note: this is a prose text. The line breaks were added to make it possible to show translations in parallel.


Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

9. Je, Christine, qui ay plouré

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[ ... ]

47 
N'appercevez-vous gent avugle, 
Que Dieu a ici la main mise ?
Et qui ne le voit, est bien bugle ; 
Car comment seroit en tel guise 
Geste Pucelle ça tramise,
Qui tous mors vous fait jus abattre?
Ne force n'avez qui souffise ! 
Voulez-vous contre Dieu combattre ? 

[ ... ]

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Sound, sound [alarum]1! we will rush on them.
Now for the honour of the forlorn French!
[Him I forgive my death that killeth me
When he sees me go back one foot or fly.]2

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1 Vercoe: "the alarm"
2 omitted by Vercoe

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]


[ ... ]

34
Hée ! quel honneur au féminin
Sexe ! Que [Dieu] l'ayme, il appert. 
Quant tout ce grant peuple chenin
Par qui tout le règne ert désert,
Par femme est sours et recouvert,
Ce que pas hommes fait n'eüssent,
Et les traittres mis à désert
A peine devant ne crussent. 

[ ... ]

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10. Ah, faith, we had many victories. In fourteen-hundred-and-twenty-nine[sung text checked 1 time]

Ah, faith, we had many victories. In fourteen-hundred-and-twenty-nine
 [ ... ]

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11. Five long months it lasted[sung text checked 1 time]

Five long months it lasted
 [ ... ]

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12. God be in my head, and in my understanding[sung text checked 1 time]

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in mine heart, and in my thinking;
God be at [my end, and in]1 my departing.

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1 Dyson: "mine end, and at"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]