"Joan of Arc" as written by Richard Webb, David Jonathan Cohen and Caroline Norris....
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,
You know 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?


Lyrics submitted by Hosimosi

"Joan of Arc" as written by Richard Webb, David Jonathan Cohen, Caroline Norris

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind


Joan of Arc song meanings
Add your thoughts

11 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +2
    General CommentThere is certainly something paradoxical about these lyrics. In the song Joan surrenders, whatever it is she surrenders to, but the actual Joan never surrendered. She tried to flee captivity several times. She was convicted as a political point with no evidence of her guilt.

    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.

    Might it be though, that 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 a a martyrs death in deed. 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 100% certain what we sacrifice for is good or evil.
    animi78on August 20, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI've enjoyed reading the previous thought-provoking comments on the Leonard Cohen song, “Joan Of Arc” @ songmeanings.net. I personally consider the 'fire' in his lyrics as neither the devil, nor God. Over the years, Cohen has expressed himself as not only a sensual, hopeless romantic but as also a sometimes dubious yet hopeful believer in God. I can only imagine his concerns over the life and untimely death of Joan of Arc. Past and continuing manipulations by religious groups must revolt him. Paradoxes abound. Though condemned at the time as a heretic, she's been hailed as a saint. Though emotionally and mentally confused, she's still offered up by many as a visionary. Cohen advises us differently. Before dying a virgin, she previously lived a delusional life of darkness. Her pride and blind religious zeal evolved into ill-advised love and false light. When she's rendered to dust, the “fire” becomes not only her cruelly misguided mental burden but also her painful physical downfall. She simply continued to supply "fire" with the fuel it needed to even exist. With his song's sardonic "la-la-la" refrain, I can sense the pragmatic, yet feel the ever romantic Cohen. He is emotionally mourning the unfulfilled love life of Jeanne d'Arc as a truly terrible waste.

    Tom Puszewski 8/12/12
    ghostomon August 12, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this is a metaphor for love, using the strong ideas behind Joan of Arc's religious love. She submits herself to the fire... if her love is fire, then she must let herself be wood and give her ashes to him. It can be about any form of love/passion and the paradoxal combination of pain and glory found in the process.
    Fypaston July 04, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song "Joan of Arc" captivated me as a teenager when I first heard it on a Judy Collins album I had purchased. I pondered the words and message. I also noted that it was written by Leonard Cohen. I remember my twin sister remarking that she could not understand why I liked that song because she thought it was weird. I remember friends we had in common thinking the song was weird also and wondering what I could like about that song.
    I have continued to really like that song as I have grown older because of the lyrics and the message it conveys. My twin sister and our mutual friends changed their mind about that song as they grew older and deepened in spiritual matters.
    DivineLoveon August 23, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy mom used to say that the "voice inside the smoke" was the Devil. A very Shakespearean interpretation. I think, though, that it must be God.
    Vestigeon October 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is about the Joan of Arc witchcraft trial and portrays they execution of Joan as a very poetic, unition between her and the fire, the "wedding dress or something white" quote is very important here as it symbolises the clothing of an angel indicating she wishes to be rid of this world, The wedding also represents the unition between joan and the fire, or unition of the elements "she must be wood".Also the idea of it being called a wedding is intersting as the it was the complete antithesis and was in fact an execution, one way which i believe in which they are connected is that both lead you on to a new life and new beggining
    The idea of the fire representing the devil i believe is just as valid as the idea of it being god. Joan of Arc was put on trial for witchcraft and burnt at stake, witchs in medievil times were seen as followers of the devil and so therefore burning her was the final stage of her invokation. The idea that it is god speaking to her is also important as Joan believed that god was the one who had told her to lead the french army to victory so the fact that god is speaking to her once again could have been a possibility.

    -These are just my thoughts on the song, if i work out any further in depths ideas i shall add them.

    Matt
    age 15
    Matrix_Matt89on January 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always thought of the fire as god, or karma in some way...Like fire was her destiny, it ruined her but was also her redemption in some wierd way.
    neptune235on April 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song, I love how it's like a poem. I think it's my favorite Cohen song. Up there anyway, it's hard to pick.
    queenofheartson October 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe Fire might also represent Jean d'Arc's own fire burning with pride, like other saints, she was executed, she would'nt have been a saint if she wasn't, which explains her unity with this fire.
    just a thought.
    Mettaflareon November 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree that this is a love song, or at least a song about love... it is an extraordinarily beautiful, mysterious, and erotic song. The image is 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 (ie, 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 offerred to a fire...and what kind of person (a male here) wants to be that fire, to consume the one you love? Incidentally, there are lots of religious overtones - the hindu bride throwing herself onto the pyre, the goddess Kali burned and regenerated, and even Buddhist ideas of burning away the veil or illusion.....what a great song!
    adventureprofon September 27, 2009   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain