For those who are following my new series on the life of Joan of Arc, you will be pleased to know that we are going to speak soon about the Ladies Tree.
The Ladies Tree became a point of significant interest during Joan’s inquisitional trial. This tree was a centuries old landmark that grew by a stream in her hometown of Domrémy. Children would go out to play under its huge branches, and families would repose there from time to time for picnics and games. The Ladies Tree also was known by the name “The Fairies Tree,” a moniker derived from stories passed down through the generations about Fairies playing and dancing under the tree.
The Ladies Tree was one of those key memorials to childhood for the locals. Joan remembered playing and singing under the large tree holding arching branches that touched the ground. All the children went there when they were out playing. However, later in her life, Joan’s inquisitors were more interested in the “Fairy” part of the tree than they were the “Ladies.” Joan’s inquisitors were much interested in whether or not Joan “saw” fairies there, or ever “played with fairies.” This would indicate that Joan’s “Voices” from Heaven might actully have been delusions from Hades. They wanted to see if she had any tendencies toward witchcraft.
Of course, Joan did not. She neither “saw” nor “played with” fairies.
However, the story of the Ladies Tree fascinated me from the moment I first read about it. There was something about the Ladies Tree in Joan of Arc’s story that enraptured me and pulled me to it. Perhaps it was merely my own sentimentality and nostalgia for my youthful, care-free days of ages past. Candidly, I think that really was it. Somehow, in some mystical way that only Our Lord can know and work, I felt that my sentimental emotions coming out of the story of the Ladies Tree connected my past with Joan’s as if grace, somehow by the Hand of God, connected my life with Joan’s.
You might say that this is over-sentimentalizing the situation, an over-reach in my subjective devotion to Joan. Perhaps you are right; I really don’t know (and with equal candor, do not really care). However, you might like to know that I drug you along with me! The story of Joan of Arc and the Ladies Tree inspired me to write a poem that included you. This poem was in honor of my friends with whom I grew up. In this poem I connected us, as friends, with Joan of Arc and the Ladies Tree. In this poem I celebrate our friendship along with Joan’s, such that we all, Joan of Arc, you my friends, and I can gather to meet once more, under that very tree, in union with Joan’s own spirit, as we travel toward our eternal destinations.
Yes, my friends, I did that for you. I brought you with me to Joan of Arc’s own memorial to friendship.
The Ladies Tree
When I look out the window pane each day at three to stare
Or rest my elbows on the sill each morn to breathe the air
Sometimes, more now than then, in solitude and thought I see
Delightful sights up on a hill where sits the Ladies Tree
I love to lean and look beyond her shades to pillowed clouds
Out over plains and flowers blowing breezily about
And slightly to one side and down the hill by banks of grass
Is Frogs Spring blue where children often sing, hold hands, and dance
Wistfully turning back inside my house to clean and strain
Over some things collected through my years of joy and pain
With tears I realize the things more treasured than the rest
Are friendships that were forged from youth while playing on that crest
Then came a day I still recall with joy and leaping heart
When at my sill I saw those friends, like me, now aged depart
They left their things, they moved with grace, I saw that from my sill
They looked to make their way across that plain and on that hill
I lean and think that heaven’s call may not be all that long
And how it would be nice to meet those friends once more for song
My apron off, I have a change in plans today at three
Today’s the day I’ll leave my sill and run to the Ladies Tree
~ “The Ladies Tree” by Walter Adams