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Pierced to her neck, and tinged its point with blood.
And now, dishearten'd at his death,
as yet in hope
voice They call their comrades in the suppliant tones
with the bitter curse of fruitless anger; they indeed within Fast from the ramparts on the victor tromps Hurl their keen javelins... but the gate is barrd... The huge portcullis down!
Then terror seized Their hopeless hearts: some, furious in despair, Turn on their foes; fcar-palsied some await The coming death; some drop the useless sword, And cry for mercy.
Then the Maid of Arc
many prisoners such a force demands,
« Foul fall such evil policy!»
And in the latest hour of life shall bless
Severe she spake;
She said: when Conrade cast
Nor meantime the garrison
Of pity now, no
« Feel ye not, comrades, how the ramparts shake
Vainly does the soldier hoast
Nay, nay...not so,» replied
Scarcely had he spoke,
« Such the fate
Is this, and come what will, me it behoves,
the falien foe: that gracious God
Of those who trust them to their walls' defence,»
Nor to draw them from the fort
Then the Maid Spake to the Son of Orleans : « Let our troops Fall back, so shall the English in pursuit Leave this strong fortress, thus an easy prey." Time was not for long counsel. From the court, Obedient to Dunois, a band of Fraoks Retreat, as at the irruption of their foes Dishearten d; they, with shouts and loud uproar, Rush to their fancied conquest: JOAN, the while Placing a small but gallant garrison, Bade them secure the gates: then forth she rush'd, With such fierce onset charging on their rear, That terror smote the English, and they wish'd Again that they might hide them in their walls Rashly abandon'd, for now wheeling around The Son of Orleans fought. All captainless, Il-marshalld, ill-directed, in vain rage They waste their furious efforts, falling fast Before the Maid's good falchion and the sword Of Conrade: loud was beard the mingled sound Of arms and men; the earth, that trampled late By multitudes, gave to the passing wind Its dusty clouds, now reek'd with their hot gore.
She said, and suddenly threw off her helm;
..« God is with us! Our champion manifest!»
Even as she spake, The tower, the bridge, and all its multitudes, Sunk with a mighty crash.
Astonishment Seized on the French...an universal cry
156 Of terror burst from them. Crush'd in the fall, Or by their armour whelm'd beneath the tide, The sufferers sunk, or vainly plied their arms, Caught by some sinking wretch, who grasp'd them fast, And drage'd them down to death: shrieking they sunk; Huge fragments frequent dash'd with thundering roar Amid the foaming current. From the fort Talbot beheld, and gnash'd liis teeth, and cursed The more than mortal Virgin; whilst the towers Of Orleans echoed to the loud uproar, And all who heard trembled, and cross'd their breasts, And as they hastend to the city walls, Told fearfully their beads.
"T was now the hour When v'er the plain the fading rays of eve Their sober light effuse; when the lowing herd, Slow as they stalk to shelter, draw behind Their lengthening shades; and, seeking his high nest, As heavily he haps the dewy air, The hoarse rook pours his melancholy note. « Now then, Dunois, for Orleans ! » cried the Maid, «And give we to the flames these monuments Of sorrow and disgrace. The ascending tlames Shall to the dwellers of yon rescued town Blaze with a joyful splendour, while the foe Behold and tremble.»
As she spake, they rush'd To fire the forts; they shower their wild fire there, And high amid the gloom the ascending flames Blaze up; then joyful of their finishd ioil The host retire. Hush'd is the field of fight As the calm'd ocean, when its gentle waves Heave slow and silent, wafting tranquilly The shatter'd fragments of the midnight wreck.
High on the fort's far summit Talbot mark'd
On the bridge there stood
«Dark minded man!»
Far through the shadowy sky the ascending flames 157
Dismay'd amid the forts which yet remaind
Not a sound
dread Of unseen dangers ; if the blast arose Sudden, through every fibre a deep fear Crept shivering, and to their expecting minds Silence itself was dreadful.158 One there was, Who, learning wisdom in the hour of ill, Exclaim'd, «I marvel not that the Most High Hath hid his face from England! Wherefore thus, Quitting the comforts of domestic life, Swarm we to desolate this goodly land, Making the drench'd earth rank with buman blood, Scatter pollution on the winds of leaven? Oh! that the sepulchre had closed its jaws On that foul priest,159 on that blood-guiley man, Who, trembling for the church's ill-got wealth, Bade Henry look on France, ere he had drawn The desolating sword, and sent him forth To slaughter! Sure that holy hiermit spake 160 The Almighty's bidding, who in his career Of conquest met the king, and bade him cease The work of death, before the wrath divine Fell heavy on his head;-and soon it fell And suik him to the grave;-and soon that wrath On us, alike in sin, alike shall fall, For thousands and ten thousands, by the sword Cut off, and sent before the Eternal Judge, With all their unrepented crimes upon them, Cry out for vengeance! For the widow's groan, Though here she groan unpitied or unheard, Is heard in heaven against us! O'er this land For hills of human slain, unsepulchred, Steam pestilence, and cloud the blessed sun! The wrath of God is on us--God hath callid This virgin forth, and gone before her path ;Our brethren, vainly valiant, fall beneath them, Clogging with gore their weapons, or in the flood Whelm'd like the Egyptian tyrant's impious host, Mangled and swolo, their blacken'd carcasses Toss on the lossing billows! We remain, For yet our rulers will pursue the war, We still remain to perish by the sword, Soon to appear before the throne of God, Lost, quilty wretches, hircling murderers, Uninjured, unprovoked, who dare to risk The life his goodness gave us, on the chance Of war, and in obedience to our chiefs Durst disobey our God,»
Then terror seized The troops and late repentance; and they thought Thic spirits of the mothers and their babes Famish'd at Roan sat on the clouds of night Circling the forts, to hail with gloomy joy The hour of vengeance.161
Nor the English chiefs Heard their loud murmurs heedless; counselling, They met despondent. Suffolk, now their chief, Since conquer'd by the arın of Theodore Fell Salisbury, thus began :
« It now were vain Lightly of this our more than mortal foe To speak contemptuous. She hath vanquish'd us, Aided by hell's leagued powers, nor auglit avails
Man unassisted 'gainst the powers of hell 163
He ceased ; and with a sigh,
Soon will come The expected host from England : even now Perchance the tall bark scuds across the deep That bears my son : young Talbot comes-he comes To find his sire disgraced! But soon mine arm, By vengeance nerved, and shame of such defeat, Shall from the crest-fall'n courage of yon ich, Regaju its ancient glory. Near the coast Best is it to retreat, and there expect The coming succour.»
Thus the warrior spake. Joy ran through all the troops,164 as though retreat Werc safety. Silently in order'd ranks They issue forth, favour'd by the deep clouds Which mantled o'er the moon. With throbbing hearts Fearful they speeded on : come, thinking sad Of distant England, and, now wise too late, Cursing in bitterness the evil hour That Ied them from her shores : some in faint liope Calling to mind the comforts of their home : Talbot went musing on his blasted fame Sullen and stern, and feeding on dark thoughts, And meditating vengeance.
In the walls Of Orleans, though her habitants with joy Humbly acknowledged the high aid of Heaven, Of many a heavy ill and bitter loss Mindful, such mingled sentiments they felt As one from shipwreck saved, the first warm glow Of transport past, who contemplates himself, Preserved alone, a solitary wretch, Possessid of life indeed, but reft of all That makes man love to live. The chieftains shared The social bow),165 glad of the town relieved, And communing of that miraculous Maid, Who came the saviour of the realm of France, When vanquish'd in the frequent field of shame Her bravest warriors trembled.
Joan the while Foodless and silent to the convent pass'd : Conrade with her, and Isabel; both mute, Yet gazing on her, oft with eloquent cye, Looking the consolation that they feard To give a voice to. Now they reach'd the dome : The glaring torches o'er the house of death Stream'd a sad splendour. Flowers and funeral herbs Bedeck'd the bier of Theodore: the rue, The dark green rosemary, and the violet, That pluck'd like him wither'd in its first bloom. Dissolved in sorrow Isabel her grief Pour'd copious ; Conrade wept: the Maid alone Was tearless, for she stood upheedingly, Gazing the vision'd scene of her last hour,
Absorb'd in contemplation; from her eye
Cold as their clayey tenants, know, my heart
Must never grow to stone! Chill thou thyself,
And labour through they still repeated prayer ;
Fear thou thy God of terrors; spurn the gifts Fell luavy: the Maid started, for the sound
gave, and sepulchre thyself alive! Smote on her heart; her eye one lightning glance But far more valued is the vine that bends Shoi wild; and shudderiny, upon Isabel
Bencath its swelling clusters, than the dark
Wreating its barren arms. For me, I know
Mine own worth, priese! that I have well performid Then in the priest arose the earnest bope,
My duty, and untrembling shall appear That, weary of the world and sick with woe,
Before the just tribunal of that God The Maid might dwell with them a vestal vow'd. Whom grateful love has taught me to adore!» « Ah, damsel!» slow he spake, and cross d lois breast, Severe she spake, for sorrow in her heart « ab, damsel! favour'd as thou art of leaven,
Had wrought unwonted sternness. From the dome Let not thy soul beneath its sorrow sink
| They past in silence, when with basty steps, Despondent; Heaven by sorrow disciplines
Sent by the assembled chieftains, one they met The froward heart, and chastens whom it loves; Seeking the mission d Virgin, as alarmd, Therefore, companion of thy way of life,
The berald of ill tidings. Shail sorrow wean thee froin this faithless world,
Holy Maid!) Where happiness provokes the traveller's chase, He cried, « they ask thy counsel. Burgundy And like the midnight meteor of the marsh
Comes in the cause of England, and his troops Allures his long and perilous pursnit,
Scarce three leagues from our walls, a fearful power, Then leaves him dark and comfortless. O Maid! Rest tented for the niglit.» Fix tbou thine eyes upon that heavenly dawn
Say to the Chiefs, Beyond the night of life! thy race is run;
At morn I will be with them,» she replied. Thou hast delivered Orleans : now perfect
« Meantime their welfare well shall occupy Thyself; accomplish all, and be the child
My nightly thoughts.» Of God. Amid these sacred haunts the groan
So saving, on she past Of woe is never heard; these hallowd roofs
Thoughtful and silent. A brief while she mused, Re-echo only to the pealing quire,
Brief, but sufficing to impel the soul, The chaunted inass, and virgin's holy hymn,
As with a strange and irresistible force, Celestial sounds! Secluded here, the soul
To loftiest daring. « Conrade!» she exclain d, Receives a foretaste of her joys to come!
«I pray thee meet me at the eastern gate This is the abode of piety and peace :
Willi a swift steed prepared: for I must hence.» Oh! be their inmale, Maiden! Come 10 rest, Die to be world, and live espoused to Heaven ! » ller voice was calm ; nor Conrade through the gloom
Saw the faint flush that witness'd on her cheek Then Coprade answer'd : « Father! Heaven has doom'd fligh thoughts conceived. She lo hier home repair'd, This Maid to active virtue.»
And with a light and noplumed casquetel 166 « Active'» cried
She helm'd her head; hung from her neck the shield, 167 Tie astonish'd priest : « thou dost not know the toils And forth she went. This holy warfare asks; thou dost not know
Her Conrade by the wall How powerful the attacks that Satan makes,
Awaited. May I, Maiden, seek unblamed By sinful nature aided! Dost thou deem
Whither this midnight journey? may I share It is an easy task from the fond breast
The peril ?» cried the warrior. She rejoin'd, To root affection out? to burst the cords
« This, Conrade, may not be. Which grapple to society the heart
That impulse of the soul which comes from God; Of social man? to ronse the unwilling spirit,
Huth summond me. of this remain assured, That, rebel to devotion, faintly pours
If angbit of patriot enterprise required The cold lip-worship of the wearying prayer?
Associate firmness, thou shouldst be the man, To fear and tremble at him, yet to love
last ... and only friend!» A God of terrors! Maid, beloved of Heaven !
she sprano, Come to this sacred trial! share with us
And left him. He beheld the warden close The day of penance and the night of prayer!
The gate, and listen'd to her courser's tramp, Humble thyself! feel thine owo worthlessness,
Till soon upon his ear the far-off sound A reptile worm before thy birth condemn'd
Fell faintly, and was lost. To all the horrors of thy Maker's wrath,
Swift o'er the vale The lot of fallen mankind! Oh, bither come!
Sped the good courser; eagerly the Maid Ilumble thyself in ashes; so thy name
Gave the loose rein, and now her speed attain'd Shall live amid the blessed host of saints,
The dark encampment. Through the sleeping ranks And unborn pilgrims at thy hallow'd shrine
Onward she past. The trampling of the steed Pour forth their pious offerings.»
Or mingled with the soldier's busy dreams,
« lear me, priest,» Or with vague terrors fill d his started sense, Exclaim'd the awaken'd Maid, « Amid these tombs, Prompting the secret prayer.
Alope I go.
So on she past
On the earth the Chieftain slept,
As she spake, a voice
resistless there she smote, And to the earth prone fell the leadless trunk Of Franquet.
Then on Burgundy she fix'd
Thus she spake;
From the eastern clouds
Her bending thitherwards The Bastard met. « New perils threaten us,” He cried, « new toils await us: Burgundy
The delegated Damsel thus replied:
So said the Maid,
Nor did she speak in vain;
Their chief was Richemont; he, when as he lieard
Ainid the plain