Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Joan of Arc

It’s amazing how often Joan of Arc comes up in songs and books and in my life. I have read two books about her in the past couple of years and have written about her, coherently or not, in a couple of past poems.

Listening to Leonard Cohen’s “Joan of Arc” on his “Famous Blue Raincoat” CD, just now, I recalled how she’s mentioned in a bio of Helen Keller I read last year. Well, I guess it made sense in various ways, not least of which was that one of Helen’s famous but close friends was Mark Twain. He was fascinated with the combination of the miracle girl Helen and the miracle worker Anne Sullivan. Twain’s interest in Joan was also fairly great at that time, since he was working on research for his book, "Personal Recollections Of Joan Of Arc".

The Helen Keller biography remarks that Twain—as a lifelong connoisseur of serious diseases—would have been fascinated by the speculation of modern doctors that Joan may have suffered from a particular hearing disorder that among many sufferers causes visual and auditory hallucinations similar to Joan’s. A ringing or singing sound in one ear, an accompanying “bright light” coming from the same side. Joan may have interpreted such sensations as her “voices”. Of course it matters little whether she heard from God or only thought she did in a case where there was so much drama, so much success, and such an abrasive defeat and tragedy. Just as it didn’t matter whether Joan had been killed by the French soldiers, clergy, and royalty who only wanted to kill her or by the vicious English soldiers, clergy, and royalty who reveled in the actual deed, she would still have been murdered by the Catholic church and she would still have become Saint Joan.

Just some passing thoughts…
"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion!" — The words that Éowyn called out to warn the King of the Nazgûl away from the fallen King Theoden.
Full Lyrics, Leonard Cohen's "Joan Of Arc"
My longish poem about Joan, OLD MILLENIUM DANCING SHOES


  1. Joan of Arc was an amazing person and her life still captivates many of us today. Have you been to Joan of Arc - yet? Great site devoted to her.

  2. I glanced at it and marked it as a favorite so that I can view it more later. Thanks.


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