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Best Famous Ernest Dowson Poems

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by Ernest Dowson | |

Growth

 I watched the glory of her childhood change,
Half-sorrowful to find the child I knew,
 (Loved long ago in lily-time),
Become a maid, mysterious and strange,
With fair, pure eyes - dear eyes, but not the eyes I knew
 Of old, in the olden time!

Till on my doubting soul the ancient good
Of her dear childhood in the new disguise
 Dawned, and I hastened to adore
The glory of her waking maidenhead,
And found the old tenderness within her deepening eyes,
 But kinder than before.


by Ernest Dowson | |

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.


by Ernest Dowson | |

What Is Love?

 What is Love? 
Is it a folly, 
Is it mirth, or melancholy? 
 Joys above, 
Are there many, or not any? 
 What is Love? 

 If you please, 
A most sweet folly! 
Full of mirth and melancholy: 
 Both of these! 
In its sadness worth all gladness, 
 If you please! 

 Prithee where, 
Goes Love a-hiding? 
Is he long in his abiding 
 Anywhere? 
Can you bind him when you find him; 
 Prithee, where? 

 With spring days 
Love comes and dallies: 
Upon the mountains, through the valleys 
 Lie Love's ways.
Then he leaves you and deceives you In spring days.


by Ernest Dowson | |

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.


by Ernest Dowson | |

In Tempore Senectutis

 When I am old,
And sadly steal apart,
Into the dark and cold,
Friend of my heart!
Remember, if you can,
Not him who lingers, but that other man,
Who loved and sang, and had a beating heart, -- 
When I am old!

When I am old,
And all Love's ancient fire
Be tremulous and cold:
My soul's desire!
Remember, if you may,
Nothing of you and me but yesterday,
When heart on heart we bid the years conspire
To make us old.
When I am old, And every star above Be pitiless and cold: My life's one love! Forbid me not to go: Remember nought of us but long ago, And not at last, how love and pity strove When I grew old!


by Ernest Dowson | |

The Moon Maidens Song

 Sleep! Cast thy canopy 
 Over this sleeper's brain, 
Dim grow his memory, 
 When he wake again.
Love stays a summer night, Till lights of morning come; Then takes her winged flight Back to her starry home.
Sleep! Yet thy days are mine; Love's seal is over thee: Far though my ways from thine, Dim though thy memory.
Love stays a summer night, Till lights of morning come; Then takes her winged flight Back to her starry home.


by Ernest Dowson | |

Amor Profanus

 Beyond the pale of memory,
In some mysterious dusky grove;
A place of shadows utterly,
Where never coos the turtle-dove,
A world forgotten of the sun:
I dreamed we met when day was done,
And marvelled at our ancient love.
Met there by chance, long kept apart, We wandered through the darkling glades; And that old language of the heart We sought to speak: alas! poor shades! Over our pallid lips had run The waters of oblivion, Which crown all loves of men or maids.
In vain we stammered: from afar Our old desire shone cold and dead: That time was distant as a star, When eyes were bright and lips were red.
And still we went with downcast eye And no delight in being nigh, Poor shadows most uncomforted.
Ah, Lalage! while life is ours, Hoard not thy beauty rose and white, But pluck the pretty fleeing flowers That deck our little path of light: For all too soon we twain shall tread The bitter pastures of the dead: Estranged, sad spectres of the night.


by Ernest Dowson | |

Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam

 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.
[The title translates, from the Latin, as 'The brief sum of life forbids us the hope of enduring long' and is from a work by Horace]


by Ernest Dowson | |

Exchanges

 All that I had I brought, 
 Little enough I know; 
A poor rhyme roughly wrought, 
 A rose to match thy snow: 
All that I had I brought.
Little enough I sought: But a word compassionate, A passing glance, or thought, For me outside the gate: Little enough I sought.
Little enough I found: All that you had, perchance! With the dead leaves on the ground, I dance the devil's dance.
All that you had I found.


by Ernest Dowson | |

To One In Bedlam

 With delicate, mad hands, behind his sordid bars,
Surely he hath his posies, which they tear and twine;
Those scentless wisps of straw, that miserably line
His strait, caged universe, whereat the dull world stares,

Pedant and pitiful.
O, how his rapt gaze wars With their stupidity! Know they what dreams divine Lift his long, laughing reveries like enchanted wine, And make his melancholy germane to the stars'? O lamentable brother! if those pity thee, Am I not fain of all thy lone eyes promise me; Half a fool's kingdom, far from men who sow and reap, All their days, vanity? Better than mortal flowers, Thy moon-kissed roses seem: better than love or sleep, The star-crowned solitude of thine oblivious hours!


by Ernest Dowson | |

Jadis

 Erewhile, before the world was old, 
When violets grew and celandine, 
In Cupid's train we were enrolled: 
 Erewhile! 
Your little hands were clasped in mine, 
Your head all ruddy and sun-gold 
Lay on my breast which was your shrine, 
And all the tale of love was told: 
Ah, God, that sweet things should decline, 
And fires fade out which were not cold, 
 Erewhile.