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How powerful the attacks that Satan makes 170
By sinful Nature aided ! Dost thou think
It is an easy task from the fond breast
To root affection out ? to burst the cords
Which grapple to society the heart
Of social man ? to rouse the unwilling spirit, 175
That, rebel to devotion, faintly pours
The cold lip-worship of the wearying prayer ?
To fear and tremble at Him, yet to love
A God of Terrors ? Maid beloved of Heaven,
Come to this sacred trial ! share with us 180
The day of penance and the night of prayer!
Humble thyself; feel thine own worthlessness,
A reptile worm, before thy birth condemn'd
To all the horrors of thy Maker's wrath,
The lot of fallen mankind! Oh, hither come! 185
Humble thyself in ashes. So thy name
Shall live amid the blessed host of saints,
And unborn pilgrims at thy hallowed shrine
Pour forth their pious offerings."
“ Hear me, father!”
Exclaim'd the awaken'd Maid. “ Amid these tombs,
Cold as their clayey tenants, know, my heart 191
Must never grow to stone ! Chill thou thyself,
And break thy midnight rest, and tell thy beads,
And labour through thy still repeated prayer ;
Fear thou thy God of Terrors ; spurn the gifts 195
He gave, and sepulchre thyself alive!
But far more valued is the vine that bends
Beneath its swelling clusters, than the dark
And joyless ivy, round the cloister's wall
Wreathing its barren arms. For me I know 200
That I have faithfully obey'd my call,
Confiding not in mine own strength, but His
Who sent me forth to suffer and to do
His will; and in that faith I shall appear
Before the just tribunal of that God
205 Whom grateful love has taught me to adore !”
Severe she spake, for sorrow in her heart Had wrought unwonted sternness. From the dome They pass'd in silence, when with hasty steps, Sent by the chiefs, a messenger they met,
210 Who, in alarm, the mission'd Virgin sought, A bearer of ill tidings.
“ Holy Maid !"
He said, “ they ask thy counsel. Burgundy
Comes in the cause of England, and his troops 214
Scarce three leagues from the walls, a fearful power,
Rest tented for the night.”
Say to the chiefs,
At morn I will be with them,” she replied;
“ And to this urgency will give meantime
My nightly thoughts."
So saying on she went
In thoughtful silence. A brief while she mused, 220
Brief, but sufficing to excite her soul,
As with a power and impulse not its own,
To some great purpose.
“ Conrade !" then she said, “I
pray thee meet me at the eastern gate 224 With a swift steed prepared, .. for I must hence.”
Her voice was calm, and Conrade through thegloom Saw not the flush that witness'd on her cheek
Inward emotion at some thought conceived.
She to her quarters hastily repair'd,
There with a light and unplumed casquetel 230
She helm'd her head; hung from her neck the shield,
And forth she went. Her Conrade by the gate
Awaited. “May I, Maiden, ask unblamed
Whither this midnight journey ? may I share
The peril ?” cried the warrior. She rejoin'd, 235
“ This, Conrade, must not be. Alone I go.
That impulse of the soul which comes from God
Sends me. But thou of this remain assured,
If aught that I must enterprize required
Associate firmness, thou shouldst be the man, 240
Best, .. last, .. and only friend !"
So up she sprung
And left him. He beheld the warden close
The gate, and listen’d to her courser's tramp,
Till soon upon his ear the far-off sound 244
Fell faintly, and was lost.
Swift o'er the vale
Sped the good courser; eagerly the Maid
Gave the loose rein, and now her speed attain'd
The dark encampment. Through the sleeping ranks
Onward she past. The trampling of her steed
Or mingled with the soldier's busy dreams, 250
Or with vague terrors fill’d his startled sense,
Prompting a secret prayer.
So on she past
To where in loftier shade arose the tent
Of Burgundy: light leaping from her seat
On the earth the chieftain slept, 255
His mantle scarft around him ; near him hung
His helmet and his shield, and at his side
Within hand-reach his sword. Profound he slept,
Nor heard the coming courser's sounding hoof, 259
Nor entering footstep.“ Burgundy !" she cried,
“ What, Burgundy! awake!" He started up
And saw the gleam of arms, and to his sword
Reach'd a quick hand. But what he now beheld
Thrilld him, for full upon her face the lamp
Cast its deep glare, and in her solemn look 265
Was an unearthly meaning. Pale she was ;
And in her eye a saintly lustre beam’d,
And that most calm and holiest confidence 268
That guilt knows never. “ Burgundy, thou seest
THE MAID OF ORLEANS!”
As she spake, a voice
Exclaim'd, “ Die, sorceress!” and a knight rush'd in,
Whose name by her illustrated yet lives,
Franquet of Arras. With uplifted arm
Furious he came; her buckler broke the blow, 274
And forth she flash'd her sword, and with a stroke
Swift that no eye could ward it, and of strength
No mail might blunt, smote on his neck, his neck
Unfenced, for he in haste aroused had cast
An armet on; resistless there she smote,
And to the earth prone fell the headless trunk 280
Then on Burgundy she fix'd Her eye severe.
“ Go, chief, and thank thy God That he with lighter judgements visits thee Than fell on Sisera, or by Judith's hand 284 He wrought upon the Assyrian! Thank thy God,
That when his vengeance smote the invading sons
Of England, equal though thou wert in guilt,
Thee he has spar'd to work by penitence
And better deeds atonement."
Thus she spake, 290
Then issued forth, and bounding on her steed
Sped o'er the plain. Dark on the upland bank
The hedge-row trees distinct and colourless
Rose on the grey horizon, and the Loire
Form'd in its winding way islands of light 295
Amid the shadowy vale, when now she reach'd
The walls of Orleans.
From the eastern clouds The sun came forth, as to the assembled chiefs The Maiden pass'd. Her bending thitherwards The Bastard met. “ New perils threaten us,” 300 He said, “ new toils await us ; Burgundy, ..
“ Fear not for Burgundy !” the Maid replied, “ Him will the Lord direct. Our earliest scouts Shall tell his homeward march. What of the troops Of England ?"
They,” the son of Orleans cried, “ By darkness favour'd, fled; yet not by flight 306 Shall these invaders now escape the arm Of retribution. Even now our troops, By battle unfatigued, unsatisfied With conquest, clamour to pursue the foe.”. 310
The delegated Damsel thus replied: “ So let them fly, Dunois ! But other work Than that of battle, now must be perform’d.