Pictures & poems/The Blessed Damozel

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Pictures & poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Blessed Damozel



The Blessed Damozel



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THE BLESSED DAMOZEL


THE blessed damozel leaned out

From the gold bar of Heaven;

Her eyes were deeper than the depth

 Of waters stilled at even;

She had three lilies in her hand,

 And the stars in her hair were seven.


Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,

 No wrought flowers did adorn,

But a white rose of Mary's gift,

 For service meetly worn;

Her hair that lay along her back

 Was yellow like ripe corn.

Herseemed she scarce had been a day

 One of God's choristers;

The wonder was not yet quite gone

 From that still look of hers;

Albeit, to them she left, her day

 Had counted as ten years.


(To one, it is ten years of years.

 . . . Yet, now, and in this place,

Surely she leaned o'er me—her hair

 Fell all about my face. . . .

Nothing: the autumn-fall of leaves.

 The whole year sets apace.)


It was the rampart of God's house

 That she was standing on;

By God built over the sheer depth

 The which is Space begun;

So high, that looking downward thence

 She scarce could see the sun.


It lies in Heaven, across the flood

 Of ether, as a bridge.

Beneath, the tides of day and night

 With flame and darkness ridge

The void, as low as where this earth

 Spins like a fretful midge.


Around her, lovers, newly met

 'Mid deathless love's acclaims,

Spoke evermore among themselves

 Their heart-remembered names;

And the souls mounting up to God

 Went by her like thin flames.

And still she bowed herself and stooped

 Out of the circling charm;

Until her bosom must have made

 The bar she leaned on warm,

And the lilies lay as if asleep

 Along her bended arm.

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From the fixed place of Heaven she saw

 Time like a pulse shake fierce

Through all the worlds. Her gaze still strove

 Within the gulf to pierce

Its path; and now she spoke as when

 The stars sang in their spheres.


The sun was gone now; the curled moon

 Was like a little feather

Fluttering far down the gulf; and now

 She spoke through the still weather.

Her voice was like the voice of stars

 Had when they sang together.

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(Ah sweet! Even now, in that bird's song,

 Strove not her accents there,

Fain to be hearkened? When those bells

 Possessed the mid-day air,

Strove not her steps to reach my side

 Down all the echoing stair?)

"I wish that he were come to me,

 For he will come," she said.

"Have I not prayed in Heaven?—on earth,

 Lord, Lord, has he not pray'd?

Are not two prayers a perfect strength?

 And shall I feel afraid?


"When round his head the aureole clings,

 And he is clothed in white,

I'll take his hand and go with him

 To the deep wells of light;

As unto a stream we will step down,

 And bathe there in God's sight.


"We two will stand beside that shrine,

 Occult, withheld, untrod,

Whose lamps are stirred continually

 With prayer sent up to God;

And see our old prayers, granted, melt

 Each like a little cloud.


"We two will lie i' the shadow of

 That living mystic tree

Within whose secret growth the Dove

 Is sometimes felt to be,

While every leaf that His plumes touch

 Saith His Name audibly.


"And I myself will teach to him,

 I myself, lying so,

The songs I sing here; which his voice

 Shall pause in, hushed and slow,

And find some knowledge at each pause,

 Or some new thing to know."

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(Alas! we two, we two, thou say'st!

 Yea, one wast thou with me

That once of old. But shall God lift

 To endless unity

The soul whose likeness with thy soul

 Was but its love for thee?)


"We two," she said, "will seek the groves

 Where the lady Mary is,

With her five handmaidens, whose names

 Are five sweet symphonies,

Cecily, Gertrude, Magdalen,

 Margaret and Rosalys.


"Circlewise sit they, with bound locks

 And foreheads garlanded;

Into the fine cloth white like flame

 Weaving the golden thread,

To fashion the birth-robes for them

 Who are just born, being dead.


"He shall fear, haply, and be dumb:

 Then will I lay my cheek

To his, and tell about our love,

 Not once abashed or weak:

And the dear Mother will approve

 My pride, and let me speak.


"Herself shall bring us, hand in hand,

 To Him round whom all souls

Kneel, the clear-ranged unnumbered heads

 Bowed with their aureoles:

And angels meeting us shall sing

 To their citherns and citoles.

"There will I ask of Christ the Lord

 Thus much for him and me:—

Only to live as once on earth

 With Love,—only to be,

As then awhile, for ever now

 Together, I and he."


She gazed and listened and then said,

 Less sad of speech than mild,—

"All this is when he comes." She ceased.

 The light thrilled towards her, fill'd

With angels in strong level flight.

 Her eyes prayed, and she smil'd.


(I saw her smile.) But soon their path

 Was vague in distant spheres:

And then she cast her arms along

 The golden barriers,

And laid her face between her hands,

 And wept. (I heard her tears.)