I believe the only club I joined in high school was the Forensic club. There weren’t many who joined, just a handful. Still, I was excited. It seems we were going to be able to pick out pieces of poetry or short stories and read them aloud. The first one I picked was Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s, “The Blessed Damozel.” It was perhaps his most famous one, partially inspired by Poe’s “The Raven.” In Poe’s, he writes of a lover on earth lamenting the loss of his loved one. In Rossetti’s, he writes of a lover in heaven, observing her loved one on earth, and her unfulfilled yearning for their reunion in heaven.
I practiced this poem and practiced. We were timed, and a received instruction from my teacher on which parts should show great emphasis. I had a ball doing it. I remember feeling as though I was tapping into the dramatics of Anne of Green Gables when she read aloud at her club.
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,
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;
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
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,
Surely she leaned o’er me—her hair
Fell all about my face. . . .
Nothing: the autumn fall of leaves.
The whole year sets apace.)