Summary of "The Blessed Damozel"

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was only 18 when he wrote "The Blessed Damozel." Although Rossetti was still young, the images and themes in his poem have caught the attention of many critics throughout the years. "The Blessed Damozel" is a beautiful story of how two lovers are separated by the death of the Damozel and how she wishes to enter paradise, but only if she can do so in the company of her beloved.

"The Blessed Damozel" is one of Rossetti's most famous poems and has been dissected and explicated many times by many different people. Even so, they all revolve around the same ideas and themes. The theme of Rossetti's poem is said to have been taken from Vita Nuova, separated lovers are to be rejoined in heaven, by Dante. Many people say his young vision of idealized love was very picturesque and that the heavens Rossetti so often painted and those which were in his poems were much like Dante. The heaven that Rossetti painted in "The Blessed Damozel" was warm with physical bodies and beautiful angels full of love. This kind of description of heaven was said to have been taken from Dante's ideas. Others said that Rossetti's heaven was described so in "The Blessed Damozel" because he was still young and immature about such matters. In other words, he had not yet seen the ugliness and despair that love can bring, which he experienced later in his life after the death of his true love Elizabeth Siddal.

"The Blessed Damozel" is beautiful in that if flows so easily from one line to the next and it seems, although it is not very apparent, that Rossetti filled it with symbolism and references to his own personal feelings and future life. The first few stanzas tell of how the Damozel is in heaven overlooking earth and thinking of her lover. Rossetti writes in stanza three of how time to the Damozel seemed to last forever because she was without her love. "To one it is ten years of years..." There are a few stanzas in the poem where the narrative jumps to her lover. In stanza four, it is the lover on earth talking about his beloved. The next few stanzas describe heaven, where it lies, and other lovers reuniting around her as she sits and watches...alone. In stanzas ten and eleven, her earthbound lover describes the sound of her voice like a bird's song which tells the reader that not only is he thinking of her, but it hints he can hear her and feel her about him. Of course, she can not understand why she must be miserable in heaven when all others are with their loves, after all, "Are not two prayers a perfect strength?" (stanza 12). In stanza thirteen, she dreams of the day that they will be together and present themselves in the beauty and glory of God. It is also in this stanza that Rossetti lets the reader know that she has not yet entered heaven. She is at the outer gates of the kingdom of heaven.

Through the second half of the poem, the Damozel refers to herself and her lover as "we two" and describes how they will be together again someday in heaven. The Damozel even says she will teach him the songs that she sings...and she dreams of them together. It is in the next stanza, (stanza 17), that the narrative changes again back to the lover. He says that she keeps on saying "we two" but when and will they ever really be together like they used to be. Rossetti is using the Damozel in these few stanzas to describe how the Damozel would want her ideal and perfect love to be, but could that really be with her in heaven and him on earth? The two worlds separating them doesn't keep them apart in thought, but it is not possible to be together. In stanza twenty-two, she once again says that she will want their love to be as it was on earth with the approval of Christ the Lord.

Near the end of the poem, in the last couple of stanzas, the Damozel finally realizes that she can have none of this until the time comes. The Damozel suddenly becomes peaceful and lets the light take her in stanza twenty-three. It is there that the reader also realizes that she will enter heaven without her love. Her lover on earth, of course, knows this and it is there in the last stanza that "I saw her smile...I hear her tears." Apart, but together in hearts, the two are separated by two worlds so great that there is nothing that can be done but hope and pray. And that is why the Damozel "laid her face between her hands, And wept."

Dante Gabriel Rossetti used the ideas of Christian belief in order to write his poem. His poem explores if two lovers, or anyone will be reunited once again in heaven. In many ways this poem is both optimistic and idealistic. That is why so many people said Rossetti was immature on the subject of love when he wrote this. To read Rossetti's poetry starting with some of his earliest, "The Blessed Damozel", and ending with his later, "The Orchard Pit", it is apparent how his feelings and ideas changed. As many times as "The Blessed Damozel" has been read and explicated, it is no wonder it has been said that so many ideas lie in his famous piece, but who doesn't want to believe, like Rossetti did in his younger years that love, no matter what, would always live in the spirit of soul and memory.