They’re cousins

t r e f o l o g y

if I find a cockroach

in my kitchen

… it’s as good as dead

but on the other hand

if I were to find a cricket 

that cricket gets an instant pass

— because a cricket can sing —

& talent goes a long way as to my opinion of you

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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s 1 HENRY VI: A Retelling in Prose — Act 5, Scenes 4-5 (Conclusion)

— 5.4 —

At the military camp of the Duke of York at Anjou, the Duke of York and the Earl of Warwick talked. Others were present.

The Duke of York said, “Bring forth that sorceress who is condemned to burn at the stake.”

Some guards brought Joan la Pucelle to him. A shepherd also came.

The shepherd said, “Ah, Joan, this kills your father’s heart outright! I have sought you in every region far and near, and now that it is my fortune to find you, must I behold your untimely and cruel death? Ah, Joan, sweet daughter Joan, I’ll die with you!”

Joan la Pucelle said, “Decrepit and miserable creature! Base, lowly born, ignoble wretch! I am descended from a nobler blood. You are no father and no friend of mine.”

“No! No!” the shepherd said. “My lords, if it pleases you, what she says is not true. I did beget her, as all in the parish know. Her mother is still alive, and she can testify that Joan was the first fruit of my bachelorship.”

In this culture, the word “bachelorship” had two meanings: 1) apprenticeship, and 2) time as a bachelor, aka unmarried man.

The Earl of Warwick said to Joan la Pucelle, “You are without grace. Will you deny your parentage? Will you reject your own father?”

The Duke of York said, “This argues what her kind of life has been. It has been wicked and vile; and so her death concludes her life.”

“Don’t, Joan,” the shepherd said. “Why will you be so stubborn! God knows you are a piece of my flesh, and for your sake I have shed many a tear. Don’t deny that I am your father, I request, gentle Joan.”

“Peasant, avaunt!” Joan la Pucelle said. “Leave! Get lost!”

She then said to the Duke of York, “You have bribed this man for the purpose of obscuring my noble birth.”

Prisoners of noble birth were treated better than other prisoners; often, they would be ransomed and allowed to live.

The shepherd said, “It is true that I gave a noble — a coin — to the priest the morning that I was wedded to her mother.

“Kneel down and take my blessing, my good girl. Will you not stoop for my blessing? Now cursed be the time of your nativity! I wish that the milk your mother gave you when you sucked her breast had been a little rat poison for your sake! Or else, when you shepherded my lambs in the field, I wish that some ravenous wolf had eaten you! Do you deny that I am your father, cursed slut?

“Oh, burn her, burn her! Hanging is too good for her.”

Hanging is a quicker and less painful way of dying than being burned at the stake.

The shepherd exited.

The Duke of York said, “Take her away, for she has lived too long and used that time to fill the world with vicious qualities.”

Joan la Pucelle said, “First, let me tell you whom you have condemned to die. I am not one begotten by a shepherd peasant; instead, I issued from the progeny of Kings. I am virtuous and holy, chosen from above, by inspiration of celestial grace, to do work exceedingly exceptional on Earth. I never had to do with wicked spirits.”

The word “do” has a sexual meaning. The sentence also meant this: “I never had anything to do with wicked spirits.”

She continued, “But you, who are polluted with your lusts, who are stained with the guiltless blood of innocents, who are corrupt and tainted with a thousand vices, because you want the grace that others have, you judge it straightaway a thing impossible to accomplish wonders except by the help of devils.

“No, misconceived!”

By “misconceived,” Joan la Pucelle may have meant that the Duke of York was wrong, or that he was illegitimate, or both.

She continued, “Joan of Arc has been a virgin from her tender infancy, chaste and immaculate in every thought, and her blood, thus cruelly spilled, will cry out for vengeance at the gates of Heaven.”

“Yes, yes,” the Duke of York said, impatiently. “Take her away to be executed!”

The Earl of Warwick said to the men who would burn her at the stake, “Listen, sirs, because she is a maiden, use plenty of wood; let there be enough to burn quickly and hotly. Place barrels of pitch leaning on the fatal stake, so that the torture of her death may be shortened.”

The barrels of pitch would produce a thick smoke, suffocating Joan and killing her. This was a quicker and less painful death than dying from being burned.

“Will nothing change your unrelenting hearts?” Joan la Pucelle said. “Then, Joan, reveal your infirmity that law assures will give you the privilege of not yet being killed. I am with child, you bloodthirsty murderers. I am pregnant. Don’t murder the fruit within my womb, although you eventually drag me to a violent death.”

The Duke of York said, “Now Heaven forbid! The holy maiden is with child! This virgin is pregnant!”

The Earl of Warwick said to Joan, “This is the greatest miracle that you ever wrought. Has all your strict morality come to this?”

“She and the Dauphin have been juggling,” the Duke of York said. “I wondered what would be her last defense, her last attempt to escape death.”

“Juggling” meant “playing tricks.” In this context, it also had a sexual meaning.

The Earl of Warwick said, “Bah, we’ll allow no bastards to live, especially since Charles must be the father of it.”

Joan la Pucelle said, “You are deceived; my child is not his. It was the Duke of Alençon who enjoyed my love.”

“The Duke of Alençon!” the Duke of York said. “That notorious Machiavel!”

A Machiavel is a schemer. The word comes from Niccolo Machiavelli, author of The Prince, a pragmatic book that acknowledges that many Princes use immoral means to achieve their purposes.

The Duke of York added, “The bastard dies, and it would die even if it had a thousand lives.”

“Oh, pardon me!” Joan la Pucelle said. “I have deceived and deluded you: It was neither Charles nor the Duke I named. Instead, it was Reignier, King of Naples, who prevailed.”

“A married man!” the Earl of Warwick said. “That’s most intolerable.”

“Why, what a girl is here!” the Duke of York said. “I think she doesn’t know well whom she may accuse of making her pregnant because she has had sex with so many men.”

The Earl of Warwick said, “It’s a sign she has been promiscuous and free.”

“And yet, truly, she is a ‘pure virgin,’” the Duke of York said sarcastically, adding, “Strumpet, your words condemn your brat and you. Don’t beg for mercy, for it is in vain.”

“Then lead me away,” Joan la Pucelle said. “With all of you I leave my curse. May the glorious Sun never cast its beams upon the country — England — where you make your abode; instead, may darkness and the gloomy shade of death surround you, until catastrophe and despair drive you to break your necks or hang yourselves!”

The Duke of York said to her as the guards took her away, “May you break into pieces and be consumed by fire until you are ashes, you foul accursed minister of Hell!”

The Cardinal of Winchester arrived; with him were some attendants.

He said to the Duke of York, “Lord Regent, I greet your excellence with letters of commission from the King. For you should know, my lords, that the rulers of Christendom, moved with regret and sorrow for these outrageous, violent battles, have earnestly implored that a general peace be made between our nation of England and the aspiring French, and here at hand the Dauphin and his retinue are approaching in order to confer about some business.”

“Is all our travail turned to this effect?” the Duke of York said. “Is this the result of all our effort and trouble? After the slaughter of so many peers, and so many Captains, gentlemen, and soldiers who in this quarrel have been overthrown and sold their bodies for their country’s benefit, shall we at last conclude with an effeminate, unmanly peace? Haven’t we lost because of treason, falsehood, and treachery the greater part of all the towns that our great progenitors such as King Henry V had conquered?

“Oh, Warwick, Earl of Warwick! I foresee with grief the utter loss of all the realm of France.”

“Be patient, Duke of York,” the Earl of Warwick said. “If we arrange a peace treaty with France, it shall be with such strict and severe conditions that the Frenchmen shall gain little thereby.”

Charles the Dauphin, the Duke of Alençon, the Bastard of Orleans, Reignier, and others arrived.

Charles the Dauphin said, “Since, lords of England, it is thus agreed that a peaceful truce shall be proclaimed in France, we have come to be informed by you what the conditions of that peace treaty must be.”

The Duke of York said, “Speak, Cardinal of Winchester; for boiling anger chokes the hollow passage of my poisoned voice because I see these our mortal enemies.”

The Cardinal of Winchester said, “Charles, and the rest, this is what has been decreed. King Henry VI gives his consent, in pure compassion and mercifulness to ease your country of distressful war and allow you to breathe in fruitful peace, as long as you shall become true and loyal liegemen to his crown — and Charles, upon the condition you will swear to pay him tribute and be submissive to him, you shall be placed as Viceroy under him and you will continue to enjoy your regal dignity.”

A Viceroy rules a country on behalf of another ruler to whom the Viceroy is subordinate.

The Duke of Alençon said, “Must he be then simply a shadow of himself? He will adorn his temples with a coronet, and yet, in substance and authority, retain only the privilege of a private man? This offer is absurd and reasonless.”

Nobles, but not Kings, wore coronets. Kings wore crowns.

King Charles VI died two months after King Henry V of England had died. Now the citizens of France regarded Charles the Dauphin as King Charles VII of France. The English believed that King Henry VI of England was also the King of France.

Charles the Dauphin said, “It is known already that I possess more than half the Gallian — French — territories, and in those territories I am shown reverence as their lawful King. Shall I, for the gain of the territories I have not yet vanquished, take away so much from that prerogative of being acknowledged as King as to be called only the Viceroy of the whole?

“No, lord ambassador, I’d rather keep that which I have than, coveting more, be excluded from the possibility of being King of all France.”

“Insulting Charles!” the Duke of York said. “Have you by secret means used intercession to obtain a league and a treaty, and now the matter draws toward a settlement, you stand aloof and quibble?

“Either accept the title you are usurping, which is a gift that comes from our King and is not anything you deserve, or we will plague you with incessant wars.”

Reignier said quietly to Charles the Dauphin so that the English could not hear, “My lord, you don’t do well by being obstinate and disputing details in the course of making this peace treaty. If once it is neglected, ten to one we shall not find the like opportunity to make another such treaty.”

The Duke of Alençon said quietly to Charles the Dauphin so that the English could not hear, “To say the truth, it is your policy to save your subjects from such massacres and ruthless slaughters as are daily seen by our proceeding in hostility. Therefore make this peace treaty now, although you can break it later when you want to.”

The Earl of Warwick asked, “What do you say, Charles? Shall our peace treaty stand?”

“It shall,” Charles said, “with this condition. You will claim no interest in any of our French towns that are fortified with garrisons.”

The Duke of York said, “Then swear allegiance to his majesty, King Henry VI, as you are a knight, never to disobey nor be rebellious to the crown of England. You and your nobles will swear never to disobey or be rebellious to the crown of England.”

The Frenchmen knelt and swore.

The Duke of York said, “So, now dismiss your army when you please. Hang up your battle flags and let your drums be still and quiet, for here we enter upon a solemn peace.”

— 5.5 —

In the royal palace in London, King Henry VI, the Earl of Suffolk, the Duke of Gloucester, and the Duke of Exeter met. Some attendants were present.

King Henry VI said to the Earl of Suffolk, “Your wondrous and splendid description, noble Earl,of beauteous Margaret has astonished me and filled me with wonder.Her virtues graced with external giftsbreed love’s deeply rooted passions in my heart, and just as the strength of tempestuous gusts of windimpels the mightiest ship against the tide,so I am driven by the report of her renowneither to suffer shipwreck or arrivewhere I may have fruition of her love.”

The Earl of Suffolk said, “Tush, my good lord, this superficial tale of her good qualities merely mentions those good qualities that are most apparent.It is only a preface of the praise that she deserves. The chief perfections of that lovely dame, had I sufficient skill to utter them,would make a whole book of enticing lines of praise that would be able to ravish and entrance any dull imagination, and which is more, she is not so divine,so fully replete with all choice delights,that she lackshumbleness of mind. She is content to be at your command. By command, I mean the command of virtuous and chaste intentions,to love and honor you, Henry VI, as her lord and husband.”

King Henry VI said, “And otherwise I, Henry, will never presume. My intentions toward her are honorable.

“Therefore, my Lord Protector, give consent that Margaret may become England’s royal Queen.”

The Duke of Gloucester replied, “If I would give consent to that, I would be giving consent to glossing over and extenuating sin. You know, my lord, that your highness is betrothed to another lady of esteem: You are engaged to marry the daughter of the Earl of Armagnac. How shall we then dispense with that contract of marriage, and not disfigure your honor with reproach?”

The Earl of Suffolk said, “As does a ruler with unlawful oaths.”

King Henry VI’s oath, however, to marry the daughter of the Earl of Armagnac was not unlawful.

The Earl of Suffolk continued, “Or as does one who, at a tournament having vowed to test his strength, yet does not engage in a joust because of his adversary’s odds. A poor Earl’s daughter is unequal odds, and therefore the marriage contract may be broken without offence.”

Dukes outranked Earls, and Kings outranked Dukes. The Earl of Suffolk was saying that a King could do much better than to marry the daughter of an Earl.

The Duke of Gloucester asked, “Why, what, I earnestly ask, is Margaret more than that? Her father is no better than an Earl, although he excels in glorious titles.”

He meant that some of the glorious titles were titular, in name only; for example, they brought no money to Margaret’s father, who was poor for a person of his rank.

“Yes, lord, her father is better than an Earl. He is a King, the King of Naples and Jerusalem, and he has such great authority in France that this alliance — our King married to his daughter — will confirm our peace and keep the Frenchmen in allegiance.”

The Duke of Gloucester objected, “And so the Earl of Armagnac may do because he is a close relative of Charles the Dauphin.”

“Besides,” the Duke of Exeter said, “the wealth of the Earl of Armagnac guarantees a liberal and generous dowry, where Reignier will sooner receive than give. Reignier is poor.”

“A dowry, my lords!” the Earl of Suffolk said. “Don’t disgrace your King like this. Don’t say that he is so abject, base, and poor that he must choose a wife on the basis of wealth and not on that of perfect love. Henry is able to enrich his Queen and does not need to seek a Queen who will make him rich. That is the way worthless peasants bargain for their wives; they are market men who buy and sell oxen, sheep, and horses. Marriage is a matter of more worth than to be dealt in by attorneys and the drawing up of contracts.

“Not whom we want, but whom his grace the King wants, must be the companion of his nuptial bed. And therefore, lords, since he loves her most, this is the reason that must be most binding on us out of all these reasons, and so in our opinions Margaret should be preferred as King Henry VI’s wife.

“For what is forced wedlock but a Hell, a lifetime of discord and continual strife? In contrast, the contrary — a marriage that is chosen, not forced — brings bliss, and is a pattern of celestial, Heavenly peace.

“Whom should we match with Henry, who is a King, but Margaret, who is daughter to a King? Her peerless features, joined with her noble birth, proves her fit for none but a King.

“Her valiant courage and undaunted spirit, more than is commonly seen in women, will give us what we hope for in the children of a King because Henry VI, the son of a conqueror, is likely to beget more conquerors, if he is linked in love with a lady of as high resolve as is fair Margaret.

“So then yield, my lords; and here conclude with me that Margaret shall be Queen of England, and none but she.”

King Henry VI said, “Whether it be through the forcefulness of your report of her, my noble Lord of Suffolk, or because my tender youth was never yet touched with any passion of inflaming love, I cannot tell, but of this I am assured, I feel such sharp dissension in my breast, such fierce alarums both of hope and fear, that the working of my thoughts is making me sick.

“Take, therefore, a voyage on a ship; hurry, my lord, to France. Agree to any legal contracts, and take measures to ensure that Lady Margaret will agree to cross the seas to England and be crowned King Henry VI’s faithful and anointed Queen.

“For your expenses and sufficient outlay of money, from among the people gather up a tenth of their income as a tax.”

English citizens hated such taxes.

King Henry VI continued, “Be gone, I say, for until you return I remain bewildered with a thousand worries.

“And you, good uncle of Gloucester, take no offence at my decision to marry Margaret. If you judge me by what you were when you were younger, not by what you are now, I know it will excuse this swift execution of my will.”

The Duke of Gloucester’s first “marriage” was controversial and illegal. He “married” the Lady Jaquet, the legal wife of John, Duke of Brabant.

King Henry VI continued, “And so conduct me where, away from company, alone, I may consider and meditate on my grief.”

His grief was his not being with Margaret.

King Henry VI and his attendants exited.

The Duke of Gloucester said, “Yes, grief, I am afraid, both at first and last, both at the beginning and the end.”

This kind of grief was trouble. He believed that King Henry VI’s marrying Margaret would bring bitter trouble to England.

The Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Exeter exited.

Alone, the Earl of Suffolk said to himself, “Thus I, Suffolk, have prevailed; and thus I go, as the youthful Paris went once to Greece, with hope to find the like event in love, but prosper better than the Trojan did.”

The Trojan Prince Paris caused the Trojan War by going to Sparta, Greece, and running off with Helen, the wife of Menelaus, the King of Sparta.

The Earl of Suffolk was saying that he hoped to sleep with Margaret, but that he hoped to do so without having to suffer such bad consequences as a war.

He continued, “Margaret shall now be Queen of England, and rule the King. But I will rule her, the King, and the realm of England.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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David Bruce: Prejudice Stories

Even early in his career, while still in minor-league baseball, African-American Hank Aaron won a lot of games with his bat. However, as all players do, he occasionally messed up, and whether he messed up or not, he often got abuse from racist fans—and sometimes from racist teammates. One game, he booted a ball, a mishap that lost a game for his team. The pitcher for his team said after the game, “You know, you can’t trust a n*gger. When pull comes to tug, they’re going to go in the tank every time.” Jim Andrews, a white player on the team and Hank’s friend, grabbed a bat and hit a locker, then he said, “We got enough aggravation outside. We don’t need it here. I’m just going to say this once and only once: If I ever hear that word in here again, this bat’s going to go across somebody’s skull. I don’t care much what happens to me. It doesn’t happen in here again.” And it never happened again.

Georgia O’Keefe ran into prejudice by creating serious art at a time when many Americans did not think that women could create serious art. At the Art Institute of Chicago, seeing live models shocked her, and at the Art Students League in New York, a male student told her that she ought to be his live model. After all, he said, he was going to be a serious artist and she would end up teaching art to females. Another student painted over her art because she had not painted trees in the Impressionist style. Actually, Ms. O’Keefe did not care how the Impressionists painted trees—she was too busy creating her own style—a style that would make her a world-famous artist.

African-American jazz musician Branford Marsalis has faced racism. As a student in Boston, he and two white friends went into an all-white and very tough neighborhood in South Boston. Some white teenagers with baseball bats saw Branford and didn’t like his color, so they attacked him and his friends. Branford got away and ran for help to a gas station. A really big white man with a chain came to the rescue. He told Branford, “They’re [messing] with you ’cause you’re black, aren’t they? I hate that.” Then the man and his son rescued Branford’s friends. Branford, noting the white man’s help, says, “I can’t really indict the whole neighborhood.”

Barbara Jordan was the first African-American woman in the Texas Senate, where she became famous for her oratory. According to author and syndicated columnist Molly Ivins, people used to bring their racist friends to the Texas Senate when Ms. Jordan was scheduled to talk. The racist friend would be shocked and ask, “Who is that n*gger?” And then the racist friend would be even more shocked as oratory worthy of Abraham Lincoln poured from Ms. Jordan’s lips. For example, she once orated, “My faith in the Con-sti-tu-tion is whole; it is com-plete; it is to-tal.”

When Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960, he wore it all the time, even sleeping with it. (He started sleeping on his back so that the medal wouldn’t cut his chest.) However, even with Olympic gold, he still faced prejudice. In Louisville, Kentucky, he and an African-American friend went to a restaurant. There, they were refused service because of their race, even though Mr. Clay showed the owner of the restaurant his gold medal.

The highly qualified eye specialist Dr. Max Mandelstamm was considered for a professorship at the University of Kiev, but he was rejected solely because he was a Jew. Therefore, he sent the university this letter by messenger: “I respectfully recommend the bearer of this letter to the Chair of Ophthalmology at the university. He is not an eye specialist, but he answers to your requirements. He is a Christian, and he has for years been my dependable furnace-tender.”

In 1942, music researcher Alan Lomax became very aware of prejudice in the South. Mr. Lomax, in a conversation with another white man who happened to be the Sheriff of Tunica County, referred to African-American blues musician Man House as “Mister.” The sheriff was not amused. A little later, Mr. Lomax, who was now suspected of being an “outside agitator,” was informed that it would be a very good idea for him to leave Tunica County. He did.

When poet Nikki Giovanni was young, much segregation existed in the United States. She eagerly awaited the coming of the Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to Knoxville, Tennessee, but she was disappointed when it arrived first at the whites-only movie theater. She and other children with her skin color had to wait for it to come to the blacks-only theater before they could see it.

As an African-American, Ralph Bunche suffered from prejudice while living in Washington D.C. For example, when the family pet died, the Bunche family went to a pet cemetery, but they were told that the pets of African-Americans had to be buried separately from the pets of white Americans. In 1950, Mr. Bunche became the first African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

After the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregation of the Montgomery, Alabama, buses was illegal, not everyone was happy with the decision. A group of Ku Klux Klansmen rode through a black neighborhood, but instead of cowering inside their houses, the blacks came out on their porches and waved to the Klansmen. The Klansmen quickly left the black neighborhood.

African-American author James Baldwin was a victim of prejudice as he was growing up in New York City. When he was 13, he crossed the street to get to a public library on 42nd Street. A white police officer saw him and told him, “Why don’t you n*ggers stay uptown where you belong?”

Pittsburgh Pirate (and Baseball Hall of Famer) Roberto Clemente sometimes felt that he was being discriminated against in southern cities. When that happened, he would tell the clerk his identity, watch as the prejudice turned into awe and compliments, then leave.


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Edgar Lee Masters: Josiah Tompkins

I WAS well known and much beloved
And rich, as fortunes are reckoned
In Spoon River, where I had lived and worked.
That was the home for me,
Though all my children had flown afar—
Which is the way of Nature—all but one.
The boy, who was the baby, stayed at home,
To be my help in my failing years
And the solace of his mother.
But I grew weaker, as he grew stronger,
And he quarreled with me about the business,
And his wife said I was a hindrance to it;
And he won his mother to see as he did,
Till they tore me up to be transplanted
With them to her girlhood home in Missouri.
And so much of my fortune was gone at last,
Though I made the will just as he drew it,
He profited little by it.


David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s 1 HENRY VI: A Retelling in Prose — Act 5, Scene 3

— 5.3 —

The battle was taking place before Angiers.

Joan la Pucelle, alone, said, “The Regent — the English Duke of York — conquers, and the Frenchmen flee. Now help, you magic spells and amulets and you excellent spirits who forewarn me and give me signs of future events.”

Thunder sounded as the fiends came closer.

Joan la Pucelle said, “You speedy helpers, who are subordinates of the lordly monarch of the north, appear and aid me in this enterprise.”

Lucifer is “the lordly monarch of the north,” according to Isaiah 14:12-14  (King James Version):

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

The fiends arrived.

Joan la Pucelle said, “This speedy and quick appearance argues proof of your accustomed diligence to me. You have always served me well. Now, you familiar spirits, who are culled out of the powerful regions under the earth, help me this once so that France may gain control of the battlefield.”

The fiends walked around; they did not speak to Joan la Pucelle.

She said, “Oh, don’t hold me here with your silence very long! I used to be accustomed to feed you with my blood, but now I’ll lop a limb off and give it to you as a down payment of a further benefit — if you condescend to help me now.”

In this culture, witches were thought to have an extra nipple that they used to feed the witches’ human blood to attendant fiends.

The fiends hung their heads.

Joan la Pucelle said, “I have no hope to have help? My body shall pay the recompense, if you will grant my request for help.”

The fiends shook their heads.

She said, “Can’t my body or my blood-sacrifice persuade you to give me your usual help? Then take my soul, my body, soul and all, before England defeats the French.”

The fiends exited.

She said, “See, they forsake me! Now the time has come that France must cast down her lofty-plumed crest and let her head fall into England’s lap. My ancient incantations are too weak, and Hell is too strong for me to fight. Now, France, your glory droops to the dust.”

The battle continued.

The Duke of York and the Duke of Burgundy fought, the French fled, and the Duke of York took Joan la Pucelle captive.

The Duke of York said, “Damsel of France, I think I have you fast. Unchain your spirits now with incantatory charms and see if they can gain for you your liberty. You are a splendid prize, fit for the Devil’s respect! Look at how the ugly wench bends her brows and frowns, as if like Circe she would change my shape!”

Circe is an enchantress who in Homer’s Odysseychanges Odysseus’ men into swine.

“Changed into a worse shape you cannot be,” Joan la Pucelle said.

“Charles the Dauphin is a proper man,” the Duke of York said. “No shape but his can please your dainty eye.”

“May a plaguing misfortune light both on Charles and on you!” Joan la Pucelle said. “And may both of you be suddenly surprised by bloody hands as you lie sleeping in your beds!”

“Cruel, cursing hag, enchantress, hold your tongue!” the Duke of York said.

“I ask you to give me permission to curse for awhile,” Joan la Pucelle said.

“Curse, miscreant, when you are tied to the stake and burned,” the Duke of York said.

He dragged her away.

The battle continued, and the Earl of Suffolk, aka William de la Pole, captured Margaret, the daughter of Reignier, and held her by the hand.

“Whoever you are, you are my prisoner,” he said.

Looking at her, he said, “Oh, fairest beauty, do not fear or flee, for I will touch you only with reverent hands. I kiss these my fingers as a pledge of eternal peace,and lay them gently on your tender cheek.Who are you? Tell me, so that I may honor you.”

She replied, “Margaret is my name, and I am daughter to a King — the King of Naples — whoever you are.”

“I am anEarl, and I am called Suffolk,” he said. “Don’t be offended, nature’s miracle,you were destined to be captured by me. So does the swan her downy cygnets — her offspring — protect,keeping them prisoner underneath her wings.Yet, if this servile usage should offend you, go and be free again, as Suffolk’s friend.”

She began to leave.

“Wait!” he said. “Stay here! I have no power to let her leave. My hand would free her, but my heart says no.Just like the sunshine plays upon the smooth, mirrory streams,twinkling another counterfeited, reflected, mirrored beam,so seems this gorgeous beauty to my eyes. She is as beautiful as sunshine gleaming on a smooth stream of water. I would like to woo her, yet I dare not speak. I’ll call for pen and ink, and write my mind.

“Stop, de la Pole! Don’t disparage yourself! Don’t you have a tongue? Isn’t she here in front of you? Will the sight of a woman daunt you?

“Yes, beauty’s Princely majesty is such that it confuses the tongue and makes the senses rough.”

Margaret said, “Tell me, Earl of Suffolk — if that is your name — what ransom must I pay before I can leave? For I perceive that I am your prisoner.”

The Earl of Suffolk said to himself, “How can you know that she will deny my wooing of her, before you make a trial of her love?”

Margaret said, “Why don’t you speak? What ransom must I pay?”

The Earl of Suffolk said to himself, “She is beautiful, and therefore to be wooed. She is a woman, and therefore to be won.”

Margaret said, “Will you accept a ransom? Yes, or no?”

The Earl of Suffolk said to himself, “Foolish man, remember that you have a wife. How then can Margaret be your paramour?”

Margaret said to herself, “It is best for me to leave him, for he will not hear what I say to him.”

The Earl of Suffolk said to himself, “There all is marred; there lies a cooling card.”

A cooling card is something that cools all your hopes.

Margaret said to herself, “He talks at random; surely, the man is mad.”

The Earl of Suffolk said to himself, “And yet a dispensation may be had.”

The dispensation he meant was an annulment of his marriage.

Margaret said to herself, “And yet I wish that you would answer me.”

The Earl of Suffolk said to himself, “I’ll win this Lady Margaret. For whom? Why, for my King! Tush, that’s a wooden thing!”

The wooden — stupid and insane — thing was the action of winning Margaret for someone other than himself.

Margaret said to herself, “He talks of wood. He is some carpenter.”

The Earl of Suffolk said to himself, “Yet even so my fancy for her may be satisfied, and peace can be established between these realms. But there remains a difficulty in that, too, for although her father is the King of Naples, as well as the Duke of Anjou and Maine, yet he is poor, and our English nobles will scorn the match. She can bring King Henry VI no dowry.”

“Can you hear me, Captain?” Margaret asked. “Aren’t you at leisure? Don’t you have time to speak to me?”

She was angry, and so she called him by the lower military title “Captain” rather than the higher noble title “Earl.”

The Earl of Suffolk said to himself, “A marriage between King Henry VI and Margaret shall take place, no matter how much our English nobles disdain it. Henry is young and will quickly agree to the marriage.”

He then said to Margaret, “Madam, I have a secret to reveal.”

Margaret ignored him and said to herself, “What though I am a captive? He seems to be a knight, and he will not in any way dishonor me.”

The Earl of Suffolk said, “Lady, please listen to what I have to say.”

Margaret ignored him and said to herself, “Perhaps the French shall rescue me, and then I need not beg his courtesy.”

The Earl of Suffolk said, “Sweet madam, give me a hearing in a cause —”

Margaret ignored him and said to herself, “Tush, women have been made captives before now.”

The Earl of Suffolk said, “Lady, why do you talk so?”

“I beg your pardon,” Margaret said, “but it is Quid for Quo. You ignored me as I tried to talk to you, and so now I ignored you as you tried to talk to me.”

“Tell me, gentle Princess, would you not suppose that your bondage is happy, if you were to be made a Queen?”

Margaret replied, “To be a Queen in bondage is more vile than to be a slave in base servility, for Princes, Princesses, and nobles should be free.”

“And so shall you, if happy England’s royal King is free.”

Was King Henry VI free? Or was he in bondage to the many people who wanted to manipulate him?

“Why, what concern is his freedom to me?” Margaret asked. “What does his freedom have to do with me?”

“I’ll undertake to make you King Henry VI’s Queen, put a golden scepter in your hand, and set a precious crown upon your head, if you will agree to be my —”

He paused.

Margaret asked, “What?”

The Earl of Suffolk said, “Hislove.”

Margaret replied, “I am unworthy to be King Henry VI’s wife.”

“No, gentle madam; I am unworthy to woo so fair a dame to be his wife and have no portion in the choice myself.”

“The choice” is the thing chosen, aka Margaret. The Earl of Suffolk felt that he was worthy of having a share of Margaret; to woo her and nothave a share of her was beneath him.

He added, “What do you say, madam? Does this content you? Are you happy with what I have said?”

“If it pleases my father, then it pleases me.”

“Then let’s call our Captains and our battle flags forth. And, madam, at your father’s castle wall we’ll crave a parley, so we can confer with him.”

A parley sounded. Reignier appeared on the castle wall.

The Earl of Suffolk said, “Look, Reignier, look, your daughter has been taken prisoner!”

“To whom is she prisoner?” Reignier asked.

“To me,” the Earl of Suffolk replied.

“Earl of Suffolk, why do you tell me this? I am a soldier, and I am not suited to weep or to complain about Lady Fortune’s fickleness.”

“There is a remedy for this situation your daughter is in, my lord,” the Earl of Suffolk said. “Consent, and for your honor give consent, that your daughter shall be wedded to my King. You will benefit from the marriage. Your daughter I have taken pains to woo, and I have won her for King Henry VI. And this her easily endured imprisonment has gained your daughter Princely liberty.”

“Is the Earl of Suffolk saying what he really thinks to be the truth?” Reignier asked.

If Margaret were to marry King Henry VI of England, she would be marrying out of her league.

The Earl of Suffolk replied, “Fair Margaret knows that I, the Earl of Suffolk, do not flatter, make a false face, or feign.”

“Upon your noble guarantee of my safety, I will descend to give you the answer to your just question,” Reignier said.

The Earl of Suffolk nodded to assure Reignier that he would be safe, and he said, “Here I will await your coming.”

Reignier came down from his castle wall.

Reignier said, “Welcome, brave Earl of Suffolk, into our territories. Command in Anjou whatever your honor pleases.”

“I thank you, Reignier. You are happy and fortunate to have so sweet a child, a child suitable to be made marital companion to a King. What answer does your grace make to my petition?”

“Since you deign to woo her little worth to be the Princely bride of such a lord, my daughter shall be Henry VI’s, if he wants her, on the condition that I may quietly enjoy what is my own, the territories of Maine and Anjou, free from oppression or the stroke of war.”

From the English perspective, the territories of Maine and Anjou actually belonged to England, not to Reignier.

“That is her ransom,” the Earl of Suffolk said. “I release her to you, and I will make sure that your grace shall well and quietly enjoy those two territories.”

“And in Henry VI’s royal name, I again give her hand to you, who are acting as that gracious King’s deputy. This action is a sign of plighted faith, a sign that the two are engaged to be married.”

The Earl of Suffolk replied, “Reignier of France, I give you Kingly thanks because this business has been performed for a King.”

He thought, And yet, I think, I could be well content to be my own attorney in this case; I would like to woo Margaret for myself and make her mine.

He said, “I’ll go over then to England with this news, and make this marriage solemnized. So farewell, Reignier. Set this diamond — your daughter — safe in golden palaces that are suitable for it.”

“I embrace you, as I would embrace the Christian Prince, King Henry VI, if he were here,” Reignier said.

Margaret said to the Earl of Suffolk, “Farewell, my lord. You, Earl of Suffolk, shall always have good wishes, praise, and prayers from me, Margaret.”

Reignier left, and Margaret started to go after him, but the Earl of Suffolk said, “Farewell, sweet madam, but listen, Margaret, have you no noble greetings for my King?”

“Tell him such greetings from me as are suitable for a maiden, a virgin, and his servant to say to him.”

“These are words sweetly placed and modestly directed,” the Earl of Suffolk said, “But madam, I must trouble you again. Have you no loving token for his majesty?”

“Yes, my good lord, I send to the King a pure unspotted heart, never yet affected by love.”

“Also send him this,” the Earl of Suffolk said, kissing her.

“That you yourself can send him,” Margaret said. “I will not be so presumptuous as to send such peevish, silly, foolish tokens to a King.”

Margaret exited.

The Earl of Suffolk said to himself, “Oh, I wish that you were mine! But, Suffolk, stop. You must not wander in that labyrinth; there Minotaurs and ugly treasons lurk.”

The labyrinth was where the mythological Minotaur of Crete was kept. The Cretan Princess Pasiphaëhad sex with a bull and gave birth to the half-human, half-bull monster known as the Minotaur. Such sex was illicit, and the Earl of Suffolk, attracted as he was to Margaret, knew that sex with her would be illicit, and since she would be married to King Henry VI, his having an affair with her could be regarded as treason.

He continued, “This is what I will do: Solicit Henry with praise of her wonders. Think about her virtues that outshine the virtues of others. Think about her natural graces that eclipse art. Remember the image of these good qualities of hers often on the seas. I will do all these things so that, when I come to kneel at Henry VI’s feet, I may dispossess him of his wits as he is astonished with wonder at Margaret.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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David Bruce: Politics Anecdotes

In 1903, union organizer Mother Jones attempted to have President Theodore Roosevelt see a group of children who worked long hours for little pay in the mills of Philadelphia, but he refused to see her and the children, saying that the problem of child labor had to be addressed by the states, not by the federal government. Therefore, Mother Jones sneaked into Oyster Bay, where the President was vacationing. She knew that the President’s men would be looking out for her and a small army of mill children and that they would be expecting them to march into town, so she fooled everyone by sending most of the children and other marchers home and keeping only three small boys and two advisors with her. They then took the train into Oyster Bay, looking like a regular family, not like an army of mill children. Unfortunately, although Mother Jones got into Oyster Bay, President Roosevelt still refused to meet with her, and he still refused to do anything about solving the problem of child labor in the United States.

Emmeline Pankhurst was a crusader for women’s suffrage in England, but she learned a lot from a fellow activist: her daughter Christabel. For a long time, Emmeline tried to politely advocate women’s rights, but she was ignored. But in 1905, Christabel, accompanied by a friend, attended a speech by a politician. During the question-and-answer session, Christabel and her friend asked, “Will the government give votes to women?” The politician ignored the question, so Christabel and her friend asked it again and again. Eventually, Christabel and her friend were arrested, and suddenly newspapers began writing about women’s suffrage. Emmeline realized that in order to get the topic of women’s rights noticed by the newspapers, she had to quit being polite. Thereafter, Emmeline, Christabel, and Sylvia (another daughter) were arrested many, many times (as were Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. later). By the time Emmeline died, women had the vote in England.

Did you know that the comic book heroine Wonder Woman was created for the purpose of serving as feminist propaganda? It’s true. William Moulton Marston—the guy who invented the technological basis of the lie detector—created Wonder Woman in the 1940s. He explained, “Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world. There isn’t love enough in the male organism to rule this planet peacefully. … I have given Wonder Woman this dominant force but have kept her loving, tender, maternal, and feminine in every other way.” In other words, according to her creator, the purpose of Wonder Woman is to help brainwash young male comic-book readers into allowing women to rule them.

Politics sometimes intrudes on sports in odd ways. In 1937, several Negro Leagues stars, including Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, played on a team for Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, who wanted them to win the championship because he thought that it would boost his popularity. Before the game that determined the championship, team manager Lazaro Salazar informed his players that if they did not win the game, they could end up losing more than a game and a championship—they could very well lose their lives if the dictator decided to have them executed. They won, 6-5.

General Maxwell Taylor decided to discontinue varsity fencing at West Point, and he needed to come up with a reason for his decision when the fencers complained to him. His first excuse was, “Frankly, gentlemen, it’s the cost.” The fencers laughed, knowing that the cost was approximately $6,000—nothing to the military. His second excuse was, “Frankly, gentlemen, it’s the lack of facilities.” Again, everyone laughed, knowing that West Point had the best fencing facility in the United States. His third and final excuse was, “Gentlemen, fencing is a sport for intellectuals, and we don’t want intellectuals in the army.”

Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, did not put up with bull. While going through an airport metal detector as she was wearing underpants with metal snaps, she set off an alarm and the security guard wanted to take her to a private area where Ms. Richards’s private parts could be investigated thoroughly. However, Ms. Richards was late for her flight, so she told the security guard, “I will take off my pants here and now—right here.” The security guard decided to let her board her flight without any further annoyance.

Anne McCaffrey, author of the Pern novels about telepathic dragons, was working as a dessert chef when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage. The two chefs who ran the restaurant looked at each other, and then they turned off all the burners in the kitchen before telling the customers that out of respect for President Roosevelt, the restaurant was closing. No one argued with the chefs. Everyone was too busy crying.

According to historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Barbara Tuchman’s book The Guns of August once prevented what might have been another world war. President John F. Kennedy read the book during the Cuban missile crisis, and after reading how World War I had started as a result of the advice of the hard-line, bone-headed military experts of the time, he resisted taking advice from the hard-line, bone-headed military experts of his own time.

An episode of Laugh-In once showed Richard Nixon saying in a puzzled voice, “Sock it to me?” This may have lightened up his image enough to get a few votes from young voters and so become President of the United States. At least, some people thought that that was plausible. In fact, singer Lena Horne once kicked Laugh-In co-host Dick Martin and said, “You son of a bitch, you elected that bastard!”

Texas governor Ann Richards knew how to give advice to teenagers. She once saw a teenager pouring charcoal lighter directly onto a fire, but she did not tell him directly how stupid such an action was; instead, she said, “Honey, if you keep doing that, the fire is going to climb right back up to that can in your hand and explode and give you horrible injuries, and it will just ruin my entire weekend.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Edgar Lee Masters: Oscar Hummel (Spoon River Anthology)

I STAGGERED on through darkness,
There was a hazy sky, a few stars
Which I followed as best I could.
It was nine o’clock, I was trying to get home.
But somehow I was lost,
Though really keeping the road.
Then I reeled through a gate and into a yard,
And called at the top of my voice:
“Oh, Fiddler! Oh, Mr. Jones!”
(I thought it was his house and he would show me the way home. )
But who should step out but A. D. Blood,
In his night shirt, waving a stick of wood,
And roaring about the cursed saloons,
And the criminals they made?
“You drunken Oscar Hummel”, he said,
As I stood there weaving to and fro,
Taking the blows from the stick in his hand
Till I dropped down dead at his feet.