Harry Graham: Joan of Arc
From Pimlico to Central Park,
From Timbuctoo to Rotten Row,
Who has not heard of Joan of Arc,
His tragic tale who does not know?
And how he put his life to stake,
For Principle and Country's sake?
This simple person of Lorraine
Had thoughts for nothing but Romance,
And longed to see a king again
Upon the battered throne of France;
(With Charles the Seventh crowned at Rheims,
He realized his fondest dreams.)
Then came the fight at Compiègne,
Where he was captured by the foe,
And lots of vulgar foreign men
Caught hold and wouldn't let him go.
»Please don't!« he begged them, in despair,
»You're disarranging all my hair.«
Unmoved by grace of form or face,
These brutes, whose hearts were quite opaque,
At Rouen, in the market-place,
Secured him tightly to a stake;
(Behaviour which cannot be viewed
As other than extremely rude.)
Poor Joan of Arc, of course, was bound
To be the centre of the show,
When, having piled the faggots round,
They lit him up and let him go.
(Which surely strikes the modern mind
As thoughtless, not to say unkind.)
But tho' he died, his deathless name
In Hist'ry holds a noble place,
And brings the blush of conscious shame
To any Anglo-Saxon face.
Perfidious truly was the nation
Which caused his premature cremation!
∗ ∗ ∗
I showed these verses to a friend,
Inviting him to criticise;
He read them slowly to the end,
Then asked me, with a mild surprise,
»What was your object,« he began,
»In making Joan of Arc a man?«
I hastened to the library
Which kind Carnegie gave the town,
Searched Section B. (Biography.)
And took six bulky volumes down;
Then studied all one livelong night,
And found (alas!) my friend was right.
I'm sorry; for it gives me pain
To think of such a waste of rhyme.
I'd write the poem all again,
Only I can't afford the time;
It's rather late to change it now,—
I can't be bothered anyhow.