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Fragrance Upon His Lips

Exquisite and carefully crafted, these moving and highly readable poems relate Joan’s birth, her Annunciation (as it were), the superstition and fear of her by her father, and the plaintive longing of her mother after Joan had left the family farm: “Jeanne, Jeanne, où vas-tu?” …Other poems relate Joan’s warrior-nature, the battles, her wounds, fears, triumphs, imprisonment, her trial by the Inquisition, her relationship with God, and her execution at the stake.

“Jeanne’s Revelation,” placed before “The Night Before She Dies,” seems the book’s climactic poem, a song of love as much as a paen to the divine. Here Joan exults that she is “a song on the lips” of God who, as her “fiercest knight,” is “all the troops I shall ever need,” because “He is cannon, catapult, and saber.” God, she confesses, is her “Lover,” and she, “fragrance upon His lips.”

The last poem is a personal, private-made-public dedication by the author, “To Jeanne D’Arc,” that closes with heart-rending poignancy: “Oh, might you have lain/at home…husbanded, still, and good:/we could have missed your raging end. We could.”

--Joseph A. Soldati, "The Bookshelf,"
North Shore Living