Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
Poor But Honest
She was poor, but she was honest,
Victim of the squire’s whim:
First he loved her, then he left her,
And she lost her honest name.
Then she ran away to London,
For to hide her grief and shame;
There she met another squire,
And she lost her name again.
See her riding in her carriage,
In the Park and all so gay:
All the nibs and nobby persons
Come to pass the time of day.
See the little old-world village
Where her aged parents live,
Drinking the champagne she sends them;
But they never can forgive.
In the rich man’s arms she flutters,
Like a bird with broken wing:
First he loved her, then he left her,
And she hasn’t got a ring.
See him in the splendid mansion,
Entertaining with the best,
While the girl that he has ruined,
Entertains a sordid guest.
See him in the House of Commons,
Making laws to put down crime,
While the victim of his passions
Trails her way through mud and slime.
Standing on the bridge at midnight,
She says: ‘Farewell, blighted Love.’
There’s a scream, a splash-Good Heavens!
What is she a-doing of?
Then they drag her from the river,
Water from her clothes they wrang,
For they thought that she was drownded;
But the corpse got up and sang:
‘It’s the same the whole world over;
It’s the poor that gets the blame,
It’s the rich that get the pleasure.
Isn’t it a blooming shame?’
“Poor But Honest” by Anonymous. Public domain.
It was on this day in 1431 that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen, France. In the centuries that have passed, she’s become a national icon in France. She is to the national identity of France, novelist Julian Barnes notes, what Robin Hood is to England.
Statues of Joan of Arc stand all over parks and churches in France, and nearly every French town has a street named for her, called “Jeanne d’Arc.” One 19th-century historian wrote that Joan of Arc “loved France so much that France began to love itself.”
Joan of Arc was a 13-year-old peasant girl when she began to hear voices in her garden. The voices, she recounted, were those of saints Michael, Margaret, and Catherine, and they eventually told her that she needed to save France. At the time, France was engaged in the Hundred Years War, and the English had the French town of Orleans under siege. In April of 1429, Joan of Arc asked the French government for troops that she could lead to liberate the captured Orleans. She’d met with the crown prince and theologians, and they thought she could be of use in the fight against the English, and so Joan of Arc was given an army to command.
She went into battle wearing a white suit of armor and carrying up high a banner depicting an image of the Trinity. An English arrow hit her in the shoulder, but she was OK. Her army succeeded in liberating Orleans: English troops fled, and Joan’s army took over their surrounding forts.
In another battle, Joan of Arc — now known as “the maid of Orleans” — was taken hostage by Burgundian troops and sold to the English. She was imprisoned for over a year, often chained to a wooden block, while interrogators attempted to extract confessions out of her. Then, on February 21, 1431, she was brought to trial under an ecclesiastical court. She stuck to her story that she had heard the voices of saints and it was they who commanded her to serve France. Interrogators demanded that she retract her statements. She was convicted of heresy and brought before a large crowd to be sentenced, condemned, and handed over to secular officials. Then, on this day, when she was 19 years old, she was burned at the stake.
In 1456 (25 years after she died), a posthumous retrial was held at which she was exonerated. In 1920, she was canonized a Catholic saint. Joan of Arc has been portrayed in more than 20 films; the first was made by director Georges Melies in 1899. And she’s the subject of more than 20,000 books.
One of these is by Mark Twain, who spent 12 years researching her life and wrote a book called Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, first serialized in Harper’s Magazine and then published as a book in 1896. It’s a fictional account and purports to be written by Joan of Arc’s page and personal secretary. But the book is mostly devoid of the humor that Mark Twain is famous for. He genuinely admired Joan of Arc, and wrote an earnest book about her.
Mark Twain later said, “I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well.”
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