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DOWSON, Ernest


Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae
"I am not as I was under the reign of the good Cynara"—Horace

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,
Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
When I awoke and found the dawn was gray:
I have been faithful to you, Cynara! in my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long;
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.


Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam

The brief sum of life forbids us the hope of enduring long. –Horace

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,

Love and desire and hate:

I think they have no portion in us after

We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:

Out of a misty dream

Our path emerges for a while, then closes

Within a dream.


A Last Word

Let us go hence: the night is now at hand;

The day is overworn, the birds all flown;

And we have reaped the crops the gods have sown;

Despair and death; deep darkness o'er the land,

Broods like an owl: we cannot understand

Laughter or tears, for we have only known

Surpassing vanity: vain things alone

Have driven our perverse and aimless band.

Let us go hence, somewhither strange and cold,

To Hollow Lands where just men and unjust

Find end of labour, where's rest for the old,

Freedom to all from love and fear and lust.

Twine our torn hands! O pray the earth enfold

Our life-sick hearts and turn them into dust.



Spleen

I was not sorrowful, I could not weep,

And all my memories were put to sleep.

I watched the river grow more white and strange,

All day till evening I watched it change.

All day till evening I watched the rain

Beat wearily upon the window pane.

I was not sorrowful, but only tired

Of everything that ever I desired.

Her lips, her eyes, all day became to me

The shadow of a shadow utterly.

All day mine hunger for her heart became

Oblivion, until the evening came,

And left me sorrowful, inclined to weep,

With all my memories that could not sleep.


IN A BRETON CEMETERY

They sleep well here,

These fisher-folk who passed their anxious days

In fierce Atlantic ways;

And found not there,

Beneath the long curled wave,

So quiet a grave.

And they sleep well,

These peasant-folk, who told their lives away,

From day to market-day,

As one should tell,

With patient industry,

Some sad old rosary.

And now night falls,

Me, tempest-tost, and driven from pillar to post,

A poor worn ghost,

This quiet pasture calls;

And dear dead people with pale hands

Beckon me to their lands.


April Love

We have walked in Love's land a little way,

We have learnt his lesson a little while,

And shall we not part at the end of day,

With a sigh, a smile?

A little while in the shine of the sun,

We were twined together, joined lips, forgot

How the shadows fall when the day is done,

And when Love is not.

We have made no vows--there will none be broke,

Our love was free as the wind on the hill,

There was no word said we need wish unspoke,

We have wrought no ill.

So shall we not part at the end of day,

Who have loved and lingered a little while,

Join lips for the last time, go our way,

With a sigh, a smile?


A Last Word

Let us go hence: the night is now at hand;

The day is overworn, the birds all flown;

And we have reaped the crops the gods have sown;

Despair and death; deep darkness o'er the land,

Broods like an owl: we cannot understand

Laughter or tears, for we have only known

Surpassing vanity: vain things alone

Have driven our perverse and aimless band.

Let us go hence, somewhither strange and cold,

To Hollow Lands where just men and unjust

Find end of labour, where's rest for the old,

Freedom to all from love and fear and lust.

Twine our torn hands! O pray the earth enfold

Our life-sick hearts and turn them into dust.