Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription
Document Title: The Blessed Damozel (fair copy manuscript)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1855 September
Type of Manuscript: fair copy
full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
- The blessed damsel leaned against
- The silver bar of Heaven.
- Her eyes knew more of rest and shade
- Than a deep water, 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 robe of Mary's gift
10 For service meetly worn;
- And her hair lying down 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.
one it is ten years of years.
20 . . . . . 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 that sheer depth
- The which is Space begun;
- So high, that looking downward thence,
30 She scarce could see The Sun.
- Heard hardly, some of her new friends,
- Playing at holy games,
- Spake gentle-mouthed among themselves
- Their virginal chaste names;
- And the souls mounting up to God
- Went by her like thin flames.
- And still she bowed herself & stooped
- Into the vast waste calm,
- Till her bosom's pressure must have made
40 The bar she leaned on warm,
- And the lilies lay as if asleep
- Along her bended arm.
- From the fixt lull of Heaven, she saw
- Time like a pulse shake fierce
- Through all the worlds. Her gaze still strove
- Within that gulf to pierce
- The swarm; and then she spake, as when
- The stars sang in their spheres.
- “I wish that he were come to me,
50 For he will come,” she said.
- “Have I not prayed in Heaven?— on earth,
- Lord, Lord, has he not prayed?
- 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,
- And we will step down as to a stream
60 And bathe there in God's sight.
- “We two will stand beside that shrine,
- Occult, withheld, untrod,
- Whose lamps are stirred continually
- With prayers sent up to God;
- And see our own 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
70 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 & slow,
- And find some knowledge at each pause,
- Or some new thing to know.”
- (Alas! just now, in that bird's song,
80 Strove not her accents there
- Fain to be hearkened? When those bells
- Possessed the midday air,
- Was she not stepping to my side
- Upon a silver stair?)
- “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,
90 Margaret and Rosalys:
- “They sit in circle, with bound locks
- And brows engarlanded;
- Into the fine cloth white like flame
- Weaving the golden thread
- To fashion the birth-robes for them
- Who are just born, being dead.
- “Herself shall bring us hand in hand
- To Him round whom all souls
- Kneel, the unnumbered ransomed heads
100 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 a
s once on earth
- At peace, — only to be
- As then awhile, for ever now
- Together, I and he.”
- She gazed and listened, and then said,
110 Less sad of speech than mild:
- “All this is when he comes.” She
- The light thrilled past her, filled
- With Angels in strong level lapse.
- Her eyes prayed, and she smiled.
- (I saw her smile.) But soon their flight
- Was vague in distant spheres.
- And then she laid her arms along
- The shining barriers,
- And laid her face between her hands,
120 And wept. (I heard her tears.)
D. G. R.
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
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