The following note by Jean Anouilh appeared in the program of the French production of The Lark:

The play that follows makes no attempt to explain the mystery of Joan.

The persistent effort of so-called modern minds to explain mysteries is, in any case, one of the most naive and foolish activities indulged in by the puny human brain since it became overstocked with shallow political and scientific notions, and can yield nothing, in the long run, but the nostalgic satisfaction of the small boy who discovers at last that his mechanical duck was made up of two wheels, three springs and a screw. The little boy holds in his hands three springs, two wheels and a screw, objects which are doubtless reassuring, but he has lost his mechanical duck, and he has usually not found an explanation.

For my own part I always refuse to tell children how things work, even when I know; and, in the case of Joan, I must confess that I did not know.

Some nights, when I am feeling depressed, I try to be rational and I say: the situation - social, political and military - was ripe for the phenomenon of Joan; a little shepherdess, one of the countless little shepherdesses who had seen the Virgin or heard voices, and who happened to be called Joan, came to fill a gap in the works, and then everything began turning.

If it hadn’t been this one, another would have been found - there were candidates before and after her. When she was burnt, her place was taken by a little shepherd from the Landes, who led his countrymen to a few incomplete victories and was, in his turn, taken prisoner and burnt, without anyone thinking of making him into a hero or a saint. (As regards the hypothesis familiar to Catholics, at least in France, that God had begun to worry about France and sent Joan to save her, I must point out as a matter of general interest that Joan was officially recognized as a saint and not as a martyr. She was canonized for ‘the excellence of her theological virtues’ and not because she died for her faith - her faith being identical with the cause of France, which, even in 1920, was hardly acceptable from the Vatican’s point of view.

Joan was thus a saint who died as a result of a political intrigue, and God did not necessarily take sides against Henry VI of Lancaster. It’s a pity, but it’s true.

Be that as it may, you cannot explain Joan, any more than you can explain the tiniest flower growing by the wayside. There’s just a little living flower that has always known, ever since it was a microscopic seed, how many petals it would have and how big they would grow, exactly how blue its blue would be and how it’s delicate scent would be compounded. There’s just the phenomenon of Joan, as there is the phenomenon of a daisy or of the sky or of a bird. What pretentious creatures men are, if that’s not enough for them.

Children, even when they are growing older, are allowed to make a bunch of daisies or play at imitating bird-song, even if they know nothing about botany or ornithology. That is just about what I have done.