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by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882)
The blessed damozel leaned out
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]1; 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 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]2 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; We will step down as to a stream, 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 felt her tears.)
About the headline (FAQ)View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Germ, No. 2, 1850; revised 1870, published separately 1898.
1 first version of poem: "rapturous new names"
2 Hart: "would"; further changes may exist not noted.
- by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882), "The blessed damozel" [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):
- by Edgar Leslie Bainton (1880 - 1956), "The blessed damozel", published 1907 [ mezzo-soprano, baritone, chorus, and orchestra ], London: Breitkopf & Härtel [sung text not yet checked]
- by Granville Ransome Bantock, Sir (1868 - 1946), "The blessed damozel", 1891 [ narrator and orchestra ] [sung text not yet checked]
- by Arnold Edward Trevor Bax, Sir (1883 - 1953), "The blessed damozel", 1906 [ reciter and piano ], from Two Recitations for spoken voice and piano, no. 1 [sung text not yet checked]
- by Philip Paul Bliss, Jr. (1872 - 1933), "The blessed damozel", published 1913 [ reciter and piano ], Cincinnati : Willis [sung text not yet checked]
- by Orton Bradley (1858 - ?), "The blessed damozel", first performed 1886 [ reciter and piano ] [sung text not yet checked]
- by Benjamin Burrows (1891 - 1966), "The blessed damozel", 1927 [ voice, piano, and string quartet ], begins "I wish that he were come to me" [sung text not yet checked]
- by Reginald B. Clarke , "The blessed damozel", published [BL 1898] [ SSA chorus and piano ], London: A. Weekes [sung text not yet checked]
- by Ernest Bristow Farrar (1885 - 1918), "The blessed damozel", published 1907 [ voice, chorus, and orchestra ], London : Stainer & Bell [sung text not yet checked]
- by Julius Allan Greenway Harrison (1885 - 1963), "The blessed damozel", published 1928 [ SSAA chorus a cappella ], London: Novello [sung text not yet checked]
- by Fritz Bennicke Hart (1874 - 1949), "I would that he were come", 1910 [ voice and piano ] [sung text not yet checked]
- by ?, Ramsay, Lady , "The blessed damozel", published  [ soprano, alto, and baritone soli, chorus, and orchestra ], London : Novello [sung text not yet checked]
- by Arthur Sandford , "The blessed damozel", published 1922 [ soprano, chorus, and orchestra ], London: Joseph Williams [sung text not yet checked]
- by Dalhousie James Young (1866 - 1921), "The blessed damozel", published  [ soprano, tenor, chorus, and orchestra ], London: Novello [sung text not yet checked]
Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:
- Also set in French (Français), a translation by Gabriel Sarrazin (c1853 - 1935) , "La damoiselle élue" [an adaptation] ; composed by Claude Achille Debussy.
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
This text was added to the website: 2010-04-22
Line count: 144
Word count: 869