Another Poem – Even Through Flame


This was my entry for the bardic competition at Atlantia’s Spring Coronation.


Even through Flame

A peasant girl who cannot write

No noble lord or gallant knight

But God commands and I shall go

To save my country from her foe

My faith I’ll keep, my voices heed

And serve my Lord in word and deed

At Vaucouleurs, I make my plea

For armored knights to escort me

To Chinon where the Dauphin stands

And bring God’s aid into his hands

You mock and jeer at what I say

But still my voices I’ll obey

To prove the words I say are true

God’s message I present to you

The Dauphin’s forces fall this day

And lose their battle at Rouvray

In two days’ time, a message read

Confirms for you the things I’ve said


We ride to Chinon swiftly now

And I before the Dauphin bow

Though in the crowd he seeks to hide

My voices point me to his side

To prove that God has sent me here

I whisper secrets in his ear

That none could know, save God and he

This gives him cause to trust in me

To Orleans he sends me then

To break the siege and aid his men

I pray and raise my banner high

The armies clash and soldiers die

Nine days of battle fiercely fought

With steadfast faith is victory bought

God keeps His pledge, we turn the tide.

We break the siege and onward ride

To Reims our holy mission bring

To free our land and crown our King


What I have promised, I have done

Many great victories France has won

But at Compeigne, an ambush laid

Am I abandoned and betrayed?

My voices silent to my need

An archer drags me from my steed

I’m thrown into a tiny cell

Alone within a private hell

Unanswered questions, doubt and fear

For why should God have brought me here?

At last my voices speak at length

To succor me and give me strength

For all the trials I’ve yet to face

I ask for God to give me grace


From prison into court I’m led

For trial by those who wish me dead

All English judges who presume

To act as God and seal my doom

With subtle questions to ensnare

And oaths they wish to have me swear

With threats of torture they’d compel

And threaten me with death and hell

Unless I break my every vow

Deny my voices here and now

Tell secrets I have sworn to keep

I am afraid, but will not weep


When in their tricks I am not caught

They have me to the scaffold brought

Pages are placed into my hand

With words I cannot understand

But I must sign or die this day

I know not what the pages say

In faltering fear I sign the page

But in their eyes I still see rage

In four days’ time, the truth I learn

No matter what, they’ll see me burn

They steal the dress I’m told to wear

And leave my soldiers’ clothing there

I see that I was wrong to sign

To leave the truth I knew as mine

I dress myself in soldier’s clothes

Armed with my faith to meet my foes

And I recant from all their lies

To seek the fire that purifies

My secrets I shall never tell

Although you make me walk through hell

The saints have called to me by name

I’ll stand steadfast, even through flame


(8-syllable rhymed couplets, traditional form for French lais. Lais are primarily a 13th and 14th century form, while Joan lived in the 15th century. I thought a simple verse form, without a lot of metaphor or ornamentation was appropriate to represent Joan’s point of view, as a peasant girl who was praised for her simplicity and humility.)


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