The Blessed Damozel
The Blessed Damozel is one of Rossetti's most famous paintings, and is the only poem that Rossetti illustrated with a picture. He urged Rossetti to paint the poem over again, and eventually he received a commission from William Graham for PS1157. The Blessed Damozel was modeled by Alexa Wilding and Wilfred John Hawtrey. May Morris may have been the angel on the left side.
The Blessed Damozel imagines herself with her lover in Heaven, walking together to the deep wells of light where the Virgin Mary dwells. As they walk, the blessed damozel envisions her lover surrounded by five handmaidens who are as sweet and innocent as symphonies, weaving bright birth robes for those who are in heaven. In this heavenly paradise, the blessed damozel proposes to her lover to drink in the divine presence, as the heavenly lamps burn and vanish with every pausing prayer.
The shortest part of the poem, Stanza X of the Blessed Damozl, describes a woman who has died and is longing for her lover. The speaker describes the woman's body in Heaven. Her eyes are deep and serene, and her hands are cradled with three lilies. Her hair is loose and unclad. She is also wearing an unadorned white robe, which she receives from the Virgin Mary.
The Blessed Damozel is an ecstatic figure, a woman superior to her lover in spiritual advancement. She proposes to take her lover to groves where she can see the Virgin Mary and her five handmaidens, who are sweet-natured like symphonies. These five handmaidens are busy weaving bright birth robes for those in heaven. She longs to see her lover, and this is evident in her look.
The blessed damozel reveals that she was so absorbed in her earthly lover's love that she could not hear the voice of her heavenly mates. So she kept on looking and waiting to meet her lover, picturing what would happen when she met him. Finally, she was reunited with her lover in heaven, and she smiled. In a beautiful prayer, the blessed damozel appeals to God to grant her a marriage in heaven.
In Stanza XIII of the Blessed Damazel, the damozel muses that her lover will appear in white with a halo, enfolding him in the radiance of God. As they step into the presence of God, their old prayers will melt into the light. In the meantime, they will lie beneath the shadow of the Tree of Life, where the Holy Ghost resides in the form of a dove. As each leaf sings out the name of God, the damozel and her lover are united in love.
In "The Blessed Damozel," Rossetti places Heaven outside of human comprehension, in a realm beyond the human mind. In this way, he focuses on the importance of love, and the importance of being a good human being. Although the poem is a short piece, it has a profound effect on the human spirit. Unlike many other poems, "The Blessed Damozel" is a work that carries profound religious significance.