Ye autre damozel.
A blessed damozel leaning out the gildcrum bars of Heaven,
Her augo deep, abyss' pith like tide submerged in even,
Three lilies bearing in her hand, her hair the scent of seven.
Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem, unflowered, tassled, shorn ;
Her face, pallid and ill-composed, a rightful thing to mourn,
Her hair, aflow along her back, once yellow as ripe corn.
She looked it not, yet she had been a thing upon this Earth
A thing of mirth, a thing of death, of clay a farthing's worth
Gone now, up and away, t'await what's called "rebirth".
To them she left, her day ago was counted in the years ;
To one of them, each day of days weighing the same as years ;
Long days, of memories effaced, and tears washed in tears.
The gilded cage of God's own house entrapped her like mud
A mud that stood, and stuck and clung since times before the Flood,
A mud so thick, so dense and dull it most resembled blood.
It lies in Heaven. There it stands the span of ether bridge ;
Beneath, the tides of day and night aflame the darkness ridge,
The void as low as where this earth spins like a fretful midge.
Around her, lovers, met again, repeat the same acclaim,
Again to coo among themselves their sweet, remembered name,
While souls mounting up, to God, slide by her like thinnish flame.
But still, she bowed herself, and stooped out of the circling charm
Until her bosom must have made the bars she leaned on warm.
The wilting lilies lay asleep along her bended arm.
From her afixion place above, ye old unyield of old Time's flow
Seem'd vomit down a drain : morose, maroon, and just as slow,
And as it slid the spheres sang their brief encyclical of woe.
The sun was here, then it was gone; the curdled moon was gray,
Just slightly visible, and mute, cut cardboard on display.
The damsel spake, and her voice creaked, a spark of loud decay.
(Ah sweet! Just now, as that bird sings, strives not her accent there ?
Fain to be heard, faintly told, a cvadrature asquare ?
Strive not her steps to reach my side, below the lengthy stair?)
'I wish that he were come to me, as he will, or must, come,'
'Have I not prayed eternities ? Hath he not also, some ?'
'Are not two prayers a perfect strength? There's more to overcome ?'
'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;
'As in a stream we will step down, and bathe there in God's sight.'
'We two will stand beside that shrine, occult, withheld, untrod,
'Whose lamps are stirred continually by prayer sent to God;
'And see our prayers, granted, melt, each like a little cloud.'
'We two will lie within the shade of every mystic tree
'Within whose secret grove the Dove is sometimes felt to be,
'While every leaf that His plumes touch say His True Name, and audibly.'
'There I myself will teach to him, I myself, lying dead
'The songs to sing in such a place, in such a wedding bed
'When flesh, like clothes lay besides, disused, awakened, shed.'
(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 that girl Mary is,
'With her five handmaidens, whose names sing five sweet symphonies
Of Cecily, Gertrude, Magdalen, Margaret and Rosalys.'
'Around they sit, bound to a post inside a golden shed;
'Betwixt them a newborn lies, on white and golden bed'
'Newborn, they say, but he is merely just very newly 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 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 towards her fill'd
With angels in strong level flight. Her eyes prayed, and she smil'd.
(I saw her smile.) But too 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 her tears.)