Poem of the Week: “Desdichado”

One of my most favorite poems of all time. I hope you all like it!


by Dorothy L. Sayers

Christ walks the world again, His lute upon His back,
His red robe rent to tatters, His riches gone to rack,
The wind that wakes the morning blows His hair about His face,
His hands and feet are ragged with the ragged briar’s embrace,
For the hunt is up behind Him and His sword is at His side, . . .
Christ the bonny outlaw walks the whole world wide,

Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me,
Lie among the bracken and break the barley bread?
We will see new suns arise in golden, far-off skies,
For the Son of God and Woman hath not where to lay His head.”

Christ walks the world again, a prince of fairy-tale,
He roams, a rascal fiddler, over mountain and down dale,
Cast forth to seek His fortune in a bitter world and grim,
For the stepsons of His Father’s house would steal His Bride from Him;
They have weirded Him to wander till He bring within His hands
The water of eternal youth from black-enchanted lands,

Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me,
Or sleep on silken cushions in the bower of wicked men?
For if we walk together through the wet and windy weather,
When I ride back home triumphant you will ride beside Me then.”

Christ walks the world again, new-bound on high emprise,
With music in His golden mouth and laughter in His eyes;
The primrose springs before Him as He treads the dusty way,
His singer’s crown of thorn has burst in blossom like the may,
He heedeth not the morrow and He never looks behind,
Singing: “Glory to the open skies and peace to all mankind.”

Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me?
Was never man lived longer for the hoarding of his breath;
Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain . . .
If we perish in the seeking, . . . why, how small a thing is death!”


4 thoughts on “Poem of the Week: “Desdichado”

  1. Obviously, I adore this poem.

    I wanted to use some lines from Sayers’s poem “The Elder Knight” as an epigraph in “Pendragon’s Heir”, but alas! They were still in copyright, and it would have cost me an arm and a leg to get permission, so I had to go with Tennyson instead. But Sayers’s poetry is my favourite thing of anything she’s ever done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But of course. 🙂

      All I’ve read from Sayers so far is her poetry, but if her other books are anywhere near as good as her poems, I’m sure I’ll love those too!


  2. I would heartily recommend her Dante translation (what a feat of poetry!, with what useful and readable annotation). Her plays – some also in verse – are varied and interesting. And Lewis thought she wrote such interesting letters that he playfully imagined in one to her that in the future they were what she might be best known for. (And now they have been published, in several volumes.)

    And how enjoyable her Wimsey novels are to read and reread (even if Tolkien didn’t think so!): there’s even a free audiobook of one at LibriVox.org (twice-over, indeed – I’ve only listened, with pleasure, to the first, so far).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once again, thank you for all the book recommendations! I had heard of Sayers’s detective novels and her translation of Dante, but not of her plays. Those sound really interesting and I’m hoping to read more of her work in the future.


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