I have been obsessing on the artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882) as I reported in yesterday’s blog. Sorry about this but Rossetti’s poem The Blessed Damozel (1850), new to me until this week, has continued to play around in my head. I read it at one of my regular online poetry events the other day and thought I would just have to get it out of my system by recording myself reading it here in my room.
The Blessed Damozel is dead. She has been in what the poet imagines as Heaven for ten years now leaving him, her bereft lover, on Earth pining for her. She is pining too even though she is meant to be in a state of bliss. She looks over the golden balcony of Heaven down to Earth and hopes (and prays) that her love will come soon to join her because then they will be able to continue their Earthly passion in Paradise. She looks forward to the totally impossible time when she and her lover will fulfil their erotic desires in the garden Paradise protected, even more inprobably, by the Virgin Mary herself. The Damozel imagines this reunited life just like any heart-broken lover down here on Earth. The poet, I think, does not really believe this literally of course but he succeeds in showing the power of love and romantic passion even in some imagined unattainable eternal bliss. He was much influenced by Dante’s La Vita Nuova (1295). Dante, of course, knew all about thr soul’s suffering in both Heaven and Hell. Rossetti worked on this poem for over twenty years and then made a painting of it too – also called The Blessed Damozel (1875 – 1878) – where the Damazel has lost her golden hair for pure Pre-Raphaelite auburn. Her lover, the poet, lies moodily gazing up towards Heaven from a lyrically beautiful English woodland.
Anyway, here it is – recorded yesterday here in the recording studio that is my desktop computer at home in Lewes, UK. I hope you get at least some of its haunting Romantic flavour.