Johanne (Joan) of Arc – By Vivian Kirby


From: Women and Disability – An Issue. A Collection of writings by women with disabilities. This booklet was produced by the Melbourne based Women with Disabilities Feminist Collective in the late 1980’s. The exact publishing date is unknown. Copyright.


 

Johanne, Maid of Lorraine
Heard voices
To be a soldier
To lead The French After 100 years war

She looked at men
But did not see them
She only listened to her voices

At first
Afraid of the voices
She cries
Immobilised
Paralysed
The voices persist
Paralysis passes

A green girl from the country
She goes
Setting out today
Rather than tomorrow
She dresses as a boy
Feeling she was born to this

Women don’t lead armies
But follow – her mother pleads

The voices persist
And she replies
Even if’ I had 100 mothers
I would still have to go

Examined
By the Archbishop of Rheims
She is chosen
To
Lead the French Army

She forms
Joan’s Army
Some afraid
Call her a charlatan
a fool
a heretic
a salt cow
a witch
a sorceress
a harlot
a schismatic an idolator
an apostate

Her voices warn her
She will be taken prisoner
She is humiliated
Abused
Chained to her bed
In a prison for men

Her voices tell her
She will be freed
To accept with all courage
For in the end
The Kingdom of Paradise will be hers
She will be rescued
Victory will be hers

Without sleep
Interrogated daily
Pressed to reject
Recant
Renounce her voices
She appeals to the Pope

But it is not a religious trial
But a political one
On the 9th day of May
She is put to the torture
To abjure her voices
Her voices persist
She holds firm to her beliefs

Finally brought in front of the public
She is excommunicated
The crowds beg her to abjure
To submit to the judges
To save herself
She must submit
Or die

Spent
Exhausted
Brow-beaten
Broken
The Maid submits
And signs
Her abjuration

Promised by her judges
To be sent to a women’s prison
For life
To live on bread of sorrow
And the water of conviction
She begs her voices for forgiveness

All night alone
Her voices speak to her
Resuscitated
She breaks her vows to the judges

Refuses to get into women’s clothes
And in the morn
They claim she has relapsed

Thus brought before the crowd
She sees clearly
That her victory
Is her martyrdom
Her escape – her death

Wearing a hat
Bearing the word ‘idolator’
She is chained to the stake
A scroll
Pinned above her head
The words
relapsed heretic
idolator
sorceress
schismatic
apostate

The words ring out
Above the silent crowd
“Executioner do your duty”
The executioner lights the faggots

Joan of Arc
Maid of Lorraine
A symbol to us all
Her deeds flower
Her actions live in History
And all the rest of them – Priests and Kings
Are minor figures