The Blessed Damozel (Dante Gabriel Rossetti)

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The Blessed Damozel  (1850) 
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
See also w:The Blessed Damozel.

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.

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 the stars
       Had when they sang together.

(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 preyed 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.'

(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.)



This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.