Text : Dante G. Rossetti
The blessed Damozel leanÂ´d out
from the gold bar of heaven;
Her eyes were deeper than the depth
of water stillÂ´d 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 MaryÂ´s gift,
for service meetly worn;
Her hair that lay along her back
was yellow like ripe corn.
Her seemeÂ´d she scarce had been a day
one of godÂ´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 leanÂ´d oÃ©r me--her hair
fell about my face....
nothing : the autum-fall of leaves.
The whole year sets apace.)
It was the rampart of GodÂ´s house
that she was standing on; the sheer depth
the wich 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 here, lovers, newly met
Â´mid deathless loveÂ´s acclaims,
spoke evermore among themselves
their heart-rememberÂ´d names;
And the souls mounting up to God
went by her like thin flames.
And still she bowÂ´d herself and stoopÂ´d
out of the circling charm;
Until her bosom must have made
the bar she leanÂ´d on warm,
and the lilies lay as if asleep
along her bended arm.
From the fixÂ´d 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 curlÂ´d 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 the stars
had when they sang together.
(Ah sweet ! Even now, in that birdÂ´s song,
strove not her accents there,
fain to be hearkenÂ´d ? When those bells
possessÂ´d 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 prayÂ´d in heaven ?--on earth,
Lord, Lord, has he not prayÂ´d ?
Are not two prayers a perfect strenght ?
And shall I feel afraid ?
"When round his head the aureole clings,
and he is clothÂ´d in white,
IÂ´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 GodÂ´s sight.
"We two will stand beside that shrine,
occult, withheld, untrod,
whose lamps are stirrÂ´d continually
with prayer send up to God;
And see our old prayers, grantesd, melt
each like a little cloud.
"We two will lie iÂ´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 myself will teach to him,
I myself, lying so,
the songs I sing here; which his voice
shall pause in, hushÂ´d and slow,
and find some knowledge at each pause,
or some new thing to know."
(Alas !We two, we two, thou sayÂ´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 three ?)
"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 abashÂ´d 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-rangÂ´d unnumberÂ´d heads
bowÂ´d withn their aureoles :
and angels meeting us shall sing
to their citherns and citoles.
"There willI 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 gazÂ´d and listenÂ´d and then said,
less sad of speech than mild,--
"All this is when he comes." She ceasÂ´d.
The light thrillÂ´d towards her, fillÂ´d
with angels in strong level flight.
Her eyes prayÂ´d, and she smilÂ´d.
(I saw her smile.) But soon their path
was vague in distant spheres :
and than she cast her arms along
the golden barriers,
and laid her face between her hands,
and wept. (I heard her tears.)