Joan of Arc Lyrics Sung by Leonard Cohen
(scroll down to watch the video)
Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark;
no moon to keep her armour bright,
no man to get her through this very smoky night.
She said, “I’m tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
a wedding dress or something white
to wear upon my swollen appetite.”
Well, I’m glad to hear you talk this way,
I’ve watched you riding every day
and something in me yearns to win
such a cold and lonesome heroine.
“And who are you?” she sternly spoke
to the one beneath the smoke.
“Why, I’m fire,” he replied,
“And I love your solitude, I love your pride.”
“Then fire, make your body cold,
I’m going to give you mine to hold,”
saying this she climbed inside
to be his one, to be his only bride.
And deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and high above the wedding guests
he hung the ashes of her wedding dress.
It was deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?
Enjoy This Video of Joan of Arc Lyrics Sung by Leonard Cohen & Jennifer Warnes
Some Facts and Interpretations About Joan of Arc Lyrics
“Joan of Arc” is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. It was released as a single in March 1971 from his third album, Songs of Love and Hate. The song lasts almost six-and-a-half minutes, and is composed of four stanzas of eight lines each with a “la-la” refrain.
The song is constructed mainly as a dialogue between Joan of Arc and the fire which is consuming her as she burns at the stake, after having been found guilty of heresy (in 1431). In the song, Joan says that she is “tired of the war” and tells how she would rather be wearing a white wedding dress (one of the charges against her was that she dressed as a man). Joan’s surrender to the fire, as its bride, may also be seen as a symbol of her religious fervor and commitment
This song was apparently inspired by Cohen’s love for the German model Nico. It has also been noted that the structure in which the song is both sung and recited on parallel tracks (most obvious in the first and last four lines) was inspired by Medieval palimpsests.
At first glance this song comes through as extremely patriarchal in nature. Joan longs for female innocence and the security of a man. Her lacking a man to get her through the night is presented as a problem. The man in turn yearns for to “win” this heroin who is “cold and lonesome”, a story that completely ignores Joan’s vow and choice to abstain passionate love for a greater cause, a cause which is in fact a fire burning within her.
But maybe it is her own passion she yields to. Or God, if you will. She gives herself completely to nothing but her mission. Odd that the follower would crave her though and not simply invite her. She does beg him for mercy, to make his body cold so he can embrace her, but he betrays her and she burns. As she does she realizes this is the true sacrifice. He can only burn through her. It is a martyrs death indeed. And don’t we all, like the observer here in the final line, sometimes wish to die a martyr’s death, to give ourselves completely for something greater than us, whatever that may be, never being entirely certain whether what we sacrifice for is good or evil.
This is a love song, or at least a song about love. It is an extraordinarily beautiful, mysterious, and erotic song. The image of Joan – a young virgin warrior in white (Joan was known as “the virgin”) who was indeed given up to fire at the stake. Here the woman is taking on “fire” as a lover, knowing she will be consumed. Consumed by love, consumed by passion (the wedding dress of consumation). Can love really be that way – a consuming force that burns you up? A force beyond yourself (almost religious) to which you offer yourself like wood given to a fire. And what kind of man wants to be that fire, to consume the woman you love?