from Joan of Arc

Nathalie Quintane

Joan, dressed in her armor, spends a lot of time observing herself in the different parts of this armor, piece by separate piece, down and back up depending on whether she first considers the plates of articulated metal that cover the feet, or rather the shoulder.

When she walks, she does not walk all of a piece, but follows herself, independently and by turns, in each part of her new guise.

In the same way, having worn a new dress, she had found herself reduced to her dress many days in a row, its shape, its weight, and its color, weighing on her mind.

Reconstructed temporarily around her dress, she'd had little latitude for thinking about anything else: to plan, to decide. She hardly had leeway enough to obey an order still.

To admire herself in her new dress paralyzes her.
To regret it, too.

(In the same way, when she has just washed herself, her cleanness prevents her, for a time, from distancing herself from cleanliness.)

– Before my first assault, there was a world between the world and me: bells rang, my father yelled, the sheep bleated.



Zig-zag, arm semi-circling, lunging my horse, it turns itself round three times,
chimneys were blown down, and, as they say, lamentings heard i' the air, strange
do not follow my finger, three times I turn myself round, rough draft of
screams of death, and prophesying with accents terrible of dire combustion and
duel, no part of the standard can serve as flask, no backhand of gauntlet will make
confused events new hatch'd to the woful time: the obscure bird clamour'd the live
him jump, down! down! once on the ground, he does not rise, because his armor
long night: some say, the earth was feverous and did shake. 'twas a rough night
is too heavy, although English-made, he would need one aide, or two,
my young remembrance cannot parallel a fellow to it. O horror, horror, horror!
and everyone busy, just my luck, however, if I happen to fall
Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee. What's the matter? Confusion
myself, I'm in as hapless a position, yet neither time nor wit comes to me,
now hath made his masterpiece. Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope the
what to do? if not to speak while swinging the arm, surely, useless to seek to see
Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence the life o' the building. What is't you
to seek to see, even to distinguish, whatever it is, though his name be Black, he
say? The life? Mean you his majesty? Approach the chamber, and destroy your
is variegated enough, but dusty (due to the ardor), rough draft of duel, surely,
sight with a new Gorgon: do not bid me speak; see, and then speak yourselves, ah!
I will remember nothing from all this; in sum, what do you think happened?
Ring the alarm-bell, murder and treason! Banco and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake!
Joan of Arc! Joan of Arc! Joan of Arc! Jesus! in the name of self and king! exhor
shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit, and look on death itself! up, up,
invocation, exhortation, defy! let your bones go to the Loire, the hardest! not without
and see the great doom's image! As from your graves rise up, and walk like
the right, fluctuat: he's on my coat of arms! may your issue rot in your balls,
spirits! to countenance this horror. Ring the bell. What's the business, that such
at thigh-guard! knee-plate! Spew yourself out piece by piece from your mouth, Joan
a hideous trumpet calls to parley the sleepers of the house? Speak! speak!
rain, knights rain, Joan rain! and Knights rain!

our traces: runs, pellets, droppings; no more than a badger.

               In the end, me on the ground heavy as a tree trunk, head

               like the inflated bladder of a pig

               Me, with feet twice the size of my hands.
               Me, with lame shoulder.
               Me and my sentence, 100 times the same 100 days.
               Me and my horse, and the blows I rain when it falls.
               Me, Joan, my chin always closer to my brow (without
               PROUD: is there any way to be hunchback in armor?

               PURE: water falling over my body, from which, it's
               JOYOUS: from the tacit joy that gets me up in the
               PROUD: by my chin, and the stance of my feet.
               PURE: after the war.
               PROUD: everywhere always and I bring my horse.
               PURE: I am clean in thought, word, and deed.
               JOYOUS: smiling, with mouth wide, my teeth golden from
               pollen caught in them. 

Here I am, credulous, high up on the crest, reeking of
myself reeking, running in my own grease,
cular before this crescendo that's killing me, before the
gle of cretinous cretins

– Even though it had been more useful for me to learn to write standing up, or sitting in motion (horseback), being given (a chair) without further ado, I sat on it, and in that understanding I was to begin to write sitting down.
– My hand draws a big circle that the index finger and thumb cannot close—the sword handle is not the nib of a quill.
– I often touch my lips.
– I lean over less when I eat.
– I stop between each letter, never having dreamed of observing the skin on my fingers so close up.
– And so, while learning, you regard, as much as the letters you're drawing, the table's wood, the paper's paper, the master, and in this one: eyes, mouth (which moves), front teeth, collar, first button on the collar when you have just made an error.
– The time I wanted my eyes to follow the letter being formed, I could not finish it.


translated from the French by Cynthia Hogue and Sylvain Gallais