Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XXXII. Visions
From ‘The Blessed Damozel’
By Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)
 
[See full text.]

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,        5
  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;        10
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        15
  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,        20
Surely she leaned o’er me—her hair
  Fell all about my face….
Nothing: the autumn fall of leaves.
  The whole year sets apace.)…
 
Heard hardly, some of her new friends        25
  Amid their loving games
Spake evermore among themselves
  Their virginal chaste names;
And the souls mounting up to God
  Went by her like thin flames.        30
 
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        35
  Along her bended arm….
 
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.        40
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        45
  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.        50
‘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,        55
  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.        60
 
‘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        65
  Each like a little cloud….
 
‘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:        70
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        75
  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:—        80
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,        85
  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.        90
 
(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 against her hands,        95
  And wept. (I heard her tears.)
 
 
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