The Poems And Prose Of Ernest Dowson
Ernest Dowson et al

Part 1 out of 4

E-text prepared by the Online Distributed Proofreading Team






MEMOIR. By Arthur Symons





Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration
Villanelle of Sunset
My Lady April
To One in Bedlam
Ad Domnulam Suam
Amor Umbratilis
Amor Profanus
Villanelle of Marguerites
Yvonne of Brittany
Benedictio Domini
Ad Manus Puellae
Flos Lunae
Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae
O Mors! quam amara est memoria tua homini pacem
habenti in substantiis suis
"You would have understood me, had you waited"
April Love
Vain Hope
Vain Resolves
A Requiem
Beata Solitudo
Terre Promise
In Tempore Senectutis
Villanelle of his Lady's Treasures
Gray Nights
The Garden of Shadow
Soli cantare periti Arcades
On the Birth of a Friend's Child
Extreme Unction
Amantium Irae
Impenitentia Ultima
A Valediction
Sapientia Lunae
"Cease smiling, Dear! a little while be sad"
Quid non speremus, Amantes?
Chanson sans Paroles



De Amore
The Dead Child
The Three Witches
Villanelle of the Poet's Road
Villanelle of Acheron
Saint Germain-en-Laye
After Paul Verlaine-I
After Paul Verlaine-II
After Paul Verlaine-III
After Paul Verlaine-IV
To his Mistress
In a Breton Cemetery
To William Theodore Peters on his Renaissance Cloak
The Sea-Change
A Song
Breton Afternoon
Venite Descendamus
To a Lady asking Foolish Questions
Libera Me
To a Lost Love
In Spring
A Last Word



ERNEST DOWSON was born in 1867 at Lea, in Kent, England. Most of his life
was spent in France. He died February 21, 1900.

The poems in this volume were published at varying intervals from his
Oxford days at Queens College to the time of his death. The prose works
here included were published in 1886, 1890, 1892 and in 1893.



The death of Ernest Dowson will mean very little to the world at large,
but it will mean a great deal to the few people who care passionately for
poetry. A little book of verses, the manuscript of another, a one-act play
in verse, a few short stories, two novels written in collaboration, some
translations from the French, done for money; that is all that was left by
a man who was undoubtedly a man of genius, not a great poet, but a poet,
one of the very few writers of our generation to whom that name can be
applied in its most intimate sense. People will complain, probably, in his
verses, of what will seem to them the factitious melancholy, the factitious
idealism, and (peeping through at a few rare moments) the factitious
suggestions of riot. They will see only a literary affectation, where
in truth there is as genuine a note of personal sincerity as in the
more explicit and arranged confessions of less admirable poets. Yes, in
these few evasive, immaterial snatches of song, I find, implied for the
most part, hidden away like a secret, all the fever and turmoil and the
unattained dreams of a life which had itself so much of the swift,
disastrous, and suicidal impetus of genius.

Ernest Christopher Dowson was born at The Grove, Belmont Hill, Lee, Kent,
on August 2nd, 1867; he died at 26 Sandhurst Gardens, Catford, S.E., on
Friday morning, February 23, 1900, and was buried in the Roman Catholic
part of the Lewisham Cemetery on February 27. His great-uncle was Alfred
Domett, Browning's "Waring," at one time Prime Minister of New Zealand, and
author of "Ranolf and Amohia," and other poems. His father, who had himself
a taste for literature, lived a good deal in France and on the Riviera, on
account of the delicacy of his health, and Ernest had a somewhat irregular
education, chiefly out of England, before he entered Queen's College,
Oxford. He left in 1887 without taking a degree, and came to London, where
he lived for several years, often revisiting France, which was always his
favourite country. Latterly, until the last year of his life, he lived
almost entirely in Paris, Brittany, and Normandy. Never robust, and always
reckless with himself, his health had been steadily getting worse for some
years, and when he came back to London he looked, as indeed he was, a dying
man. Morbidly shy, with a sensitive independence which shrank from any
sort of obligation, he would not communicate with his relatives, who would
gladly have helped him, or with any of the really large number of attached
friends whom he had in London; and, as his disease weakened him more and
more, he hid himself away in his miserable lodgings, refused to see a
doctor, let himself half starve, and was found one day in a Bodega with
only a few shillings in his pocket, and so weak as to be hardly able to
walk, by a friend, himself in some difficulties, who immediately took him
back to the bricklayer's cottage in a muddy outskirt of Catford, where he
was himself living, and there generously looked after him for the last six
weeks of his life.

He did not realise that he was going to die; and was full of projects for
the future, when the L600 which was to come to him from the sale of some
property should have given him a fresh chance in the world; began to read
Dickens, whom he had never read before, with singular zest; and, on the
last day of his life, sat up talking eagerly till five in the morning. At
the very moment of his death he did not know that he was dying. He tried to
cough, could not cough, and the heart quietly stopped.


I cannot remember my first meeting with Ernest Dowson. It may have been in
1891, at one of the meetings of the Rhymers' Club, in an upper room of the
"Cheshire Cheese," where long clay pipes lay in slim heaps on the wooden
tables, between tankards of ale; and young poets, then very young, recited
their own verses to one another with a desperate and ineffectual attempt
to get into key with the Latin Quarter, Though few of us were, as a matter
of fact, Anglo-Saxon, we could not help feeling that we were in London,
and the atmosphere of London is not the atmosphere of movements or of
societies. In Paris it is the most natural thing in the world to meet and
discuss literature, ideas, one's own and one another's work; and it can be
done without pretentiousness or constraint, because, to the Latin mind,
art, ideas, one's work and the work of one's friends, are definite and
important things, which it would never occur to any one to take anything
but seriously. In England art has to be protected not only against the
world, but against one's self and one's fellow artist, by a kind of
affected modesty which is the Englishman's natural pose, half pride and
half self-distrust. So this brave venture of the Rhymers' Club, though it
lasted for two or three years, and produced two little books of verse which
will some day be literary curiosities, was not quite a satisfactory kind of
_cenacle_. Dowson, who enjoyed the real thing so much in Paris, did not, I
think, go very often; but his contributions to the first book of the club
were at once the most delicate and the most distinguished poems which it
contained. Was it, after all, at one of these meetings that I first saw
him, or was it, perhaps, at another haunt of some of us at that time, a
semi-literary tavern near Leicester Square, chosen for its convenient
position between two stage-doors? It was at the time when one or two of us
sincerely worshipped the ballet; Dowson, alas! never. I could never get him
to see that charm in harmonious and coloured movement, like bright shadows
seen through the floating gauze of the music, which held me night after
night at the two theatres which alone seemed to me to give an amusing
colour to one's dreams. Neither the stage nor the stage-door had any
attraction for him; but he came to the tavern because it was a tavern, and
because he could meet his friends there. Even before that time I have a
vague impression of having met him, I forget where, certainly at night; and
of having been struck, even then, by a look and manner of pathetic charm, a
sort of Keats-like face, the face of a demoralised Keats, and by something
curious in the contrast of a manner exquisitely refined, with an appearance
generally somewhat dilapidated. That impression was only accentuated
later on, when I came to know him, and the manner of his life, much more

I think I may date my first impression of what one calls "the real man"
(as if it were more real than the poet of the disembodied verses!) from an
evening in which he first introduced me to those charming supper-houses,
open all night through, the cabmen's shelters. I had been talking over
another vagabond poet, Lord Rochester, with a charming and sympathetic
descendant of that poet, and somewhat late at night we had come upon Dowson
and another man wandering aimlessly and excitedly about the streets. He
invited us to supper, we did not quite realise where, and the cabman came
in with us, as we were welcomed, cordially and without comment, at a little
place near the Langham; and, I recollect, very hospitably entertained. The
cooking differs, as I found in time, in these supper-houses, but there the
rasher was excellent and the cups admirably clean. Dowson was known there,
and I used to think he was always at his best in a cabmen's shelter.
Without a certain sordidness in his surroundings he was never quite
comfortable, never quite himself; and at those places you are obliged to
drink nothing stronger than coffee or tea. I liked to see him occasionally,
for a change, drinking nothing stronger than coffee or tea. At Oxford, I
believe, his favourite form of intoxication had been haschisch; afterwards
he gave up this somewhat elaborate experiment in visionary sensations for
readier means of oblivion; but he returned to it, I remember, for at least
one afternoon, in a company of which I had been the gatherer and of which I
was the host. I remember him sitting a little anxiously, with his chin on
his breast, awaiting the magic, half-shy in the midst of a bright company
of young people whom he had only seen across the footlights. The experience
was not a very successful one; it ended in what should have been its first
symptom, immoderate laughter.

Always, perhaps, a little consciously, but at least always sincerely, in
search of new sensations, my friend found what was for him the supreme
sensation in a very passionate and tender adoration of the most escaping of
all ideals, the ideal of youth. Cherished, as I imagine, first only in the
abstract, this search after the immature, the ripening graces which time
can only spoil in the ripening, found itself at the journey's end, as some
of his friends thought, a little prematurely. I was never of their opinion.
I only saw twice, and for a few moments only, the young girl to whom most
of his verses were to be written, and whose presence in his life may be
held to account for much of that astonishing contrast between the broad
outlines of his life and work. The situation seemed to me of the most
exquisite and appropriate impossibility. The daughter of a refugee, I
believe of good family, reduced to keeping a humble restaurant in a foreign
quarter of London, she listened to his verses, smiled charmingly, under her
mother's eyes, on his two years' courtship, and at the end of two years
married the waiter instead. Did she ever realise more than the obvious part
of what was being offered to her, in this shy and eager devotion? Did it
ever mean very much to her to have made and to have killed a poet? She had,
at all events, the gift of evoking, and, in its way, of retaining, all that
was most delicate, sensitive, shy, typically poetic, in a nature which I
can only compare to a weedy garden, its grass trodden down by many feet,
but with one small, carefully tended flowerbed, luminous with lilies. I
used to think, sometimes, of Verlaine and his "girl-wife," the one really
profound passion, certainly, of that passionate career; the charming,
child-like creature, to whom he looked back, at the end of his life, with
an unchanged tenderness and disappointment: "Vous n'avez rien compris a ma
simplicite," as he lamented. In the case of Dowson, however, there was a
sort of virginal devotion, as to a Madonna; and I think, had things gone
happily, to a conventionally happy ending, he would have felt (dare I say?)
that his ideal had been spoilt.

But, for the good fortune of poets, things rarely do go happily with them,
or to conventionally happy endings. He used to dine every night at the
little restaurant, and I can always see the picture, which I have so often
seen through the window in passing: the narrow room with the rough tables,
for the most part empty, except in the innermost corner, where Dowson would
sit with that singularly sweet and singularly pathetic smile on his lips (a
smile which seemed afraid of its right to be there, as if always dreading a
rebuff), playing his invariable after-dinner game of cards. Friends would
come in during the hour before closing time; and the girl, her game of
cards finished, would quietly disappear, leaving him with hardly more than
the desire to kill another night as swiftly as possible.

Meanwhile she and the mother knew that the fragile young man who dined
there so quietly every day way apt to be quite another sort of person after
he had been three hours outside. It was only when his life seemed to have
been irretrievably ruined that Dowson quite deliberately abandoned himself
to that craving for drink, which was doubtless lying in wait for him in his
blood, as consumption was also; it was only latterly, when he had no longer
any interest in life, that he really wished to die. But I have never known
him when he could resist either the desire or the consequences of drink.
Sober, he was the most gentle, in manner the most gentlemanly of men;
unselfish to a fault, to the extent of weakness; a delightful companion,
charm itself. Under the influence of drink, he became almost literally
insane, certainly quite irresponsible. He fell into furious and unreasoning
passions; a vocabulary unknown to him at other times sprang up like a
whirlwind; he seemed always about to commit some act of absurd violence.
Along with that forgetfulness came other memories. As long as he was
conscious of himself, there was but one woman for him in the world, and for
her he had an infinite tenderness and an infinite respect. When that face
faded from him, he saw all the other faces, and he saw no more difference
than between sheep and sheep. Indeed, that curious love of the sordid, so
common an affectation of the modern decadent, and with him so genuine, grew
upon him, and dragged him into more and more sorry corners of a life which
was never exactly "gay" to him. His father, when he died, left him in
possession of an old dock, where for a time he lived in a mouldering house,
in that squalid part of the East End which he came to know so well, and
to feel so strangely at home in. He drank the poisonous liquors of those
pot-houses which swarm about the docks; he drifted about in whatever
company came in his way; he let heedlessness develop into a curious
disregard of personal tidiness. In Paris, Les Halles took the place of the
docks. At Dieppe, where I saw so much, of him one summer, he discovered
strange, squalid haunts about the harbour, where he made friends with
amazing innkeepers, and got into rows with the fishermen who came in to
drink after midnight. At Brussels, where I was with him at the time of the
Kermesse, he flung himself into all that riotous Flemish life, with a zest
for what was most sordidly riotous in it. It was his own way of escape from

To Dowson, as to all those who have not been "content to ask unlikely
gifts in vain," nature, life, destiny, whatever one chooses to call it,
that power which is strength to the strong, presented itself as a barrier
against which all one's strength only served to dash one to more hopeless
ruin. He was not a dreamer; destiny passes by the dreamer, sparing him
because he clamours for nothing. He was a child, clamouring for so many
things, all impossible. With a body too weak for ordinary existence, he
desired all the enchantments of all the senses. With a soul too shy to tell
its own secret, except in exquisite evasions, he desired the boundless
confidence of love. He sang one tune, over and over, and no one listened
to him. He had only to form the most simple wish, and it was denied him.
He gave way to ill-luck, not knowing that he was giving way to his own
weakness, and he tried to escape from the consciousness of things as they
were at the best, by voluntarily choosing to accept them at their worst.
For with him it was always voluntary. He was never quite without money; he
had a little money of his own, and he had for many years a weekly allowance
from a publisher, in return for translations from the French, or, if he
chose to do it, original work. He was unhappy, and he dared not think.
To unhappy men, thought, if it can be set at work on abstract questions,
is the only substitute for happiness; if it has not strength to overleap
the barrier which shuts one in upon oneself, it is the one unwearying
torture. Dowson had exquisite sensibility, he vibrated in harmony with
every delicate emotion; but he had no outlook, he had not the escape of
intellect. His only escape, then, was to plunge into the crowd, to fancy
that he lost sight of himself as he disappeared from the sight of others.
The more he soiled himself at that gross contact, the further would he seem
to be from what beckoned to him in one vain illusion after another vain
illusion, in the delicate places of the world. Seeing himself moving to
the sound of lutes, in some courtly disguise, down an alley of Watteau's
Versailles, while he touched finger-tips with a divine creature in
rose-leaf silks, what was there left for him, as the dream obstinately
refused to realise itself, but a blind flight into some Teniers kitchen,
where boors are making merry, without thought of yesterday or to-morrow?
There, perhaps, in that ferment of animal life, he could forget life as he
dreamed it, with too faint hold upon his dreams to make dreams come true.

For, there is not a dream which may not come true, if we have the energy
which makes, or chooses, our own fate. We can always, in this world, get
what we want, if we will it intensely and persistently enough. Whether we
shall get it sooner or later is the concern of fate; but we shall get it.
It may come when we have no longer any use for it, when we have gone on
willing it out of habit, or so as not to confess that we have failed. But
it will come. So few people succeed greatly because so few people can
conceive a great end, and work towards that end without deviating and
without tiring. But we all know that the man who works for money day and
night gets rich; and the man who works day and night for no matter what
kind of material power, gets the power. It is the same with the deeper,
more spiritual, as it seems vaguer issues, which make for happiness and
every intangible success. It is only the dreams of those light sleepers who
dream faintly that do not come true.

We get out of life, all of us, what we bring to it; that, and that only, is
what it can teach us. There are men whom Dowson's experiences would have
made great men, or great writers; for him they did very little. Love and
regret, with here and there the suggestion of an uncomforting pleasure
snatched by the way, are all that he has to sing of; and he could have sung
of them at much less "expense of spirit," and, one fancies, without the
"waste of shame" at all. Think what Villon got directly out of his own
life, what Verlaine, what Musset, what Byron, got directly out of their
own lives! It requires a strong man to "sin strongly" and profit by it. To
Dowson the tragedy of his own life could only have resulted in an elegy. "I
have flung roses, roses, riotously with the throng," he confesses in his
most beautiful poem; but it was as one who flings roses in a dream, as he
passes with shut eyes through an unsubstantial throng. The depths into
which he plunged were always waters of oblivion, and he returned forgetting
them. He is always a very ghostly lover, wandering in a land of perpetual
twilight, as he holds a whispered _colloque sentimental_ with the ghost of
an old love:

"Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glace,
Deux spectres ont evoque le passe."

It was, indeed, almost a literal unconsciousness, as of one who leads two
lives, severed from one another as completely as sleep is from waking. Thus
we get in his work very little of the personal appeal of those to whom
riotous living, misery, a cross destiny, have been of so real a value. And
it is important to draw this distinction, if only for the benefit of those
young men who are convinced that the first step towards genius is disorder.
Dowson is precisely one of the people who are pointed out as confirming
this theory. And yet Dowson was precisely one of those who owed least to
circumstances; and, in succumbing to them, he did no more than succumb to
the destructive forces which, shut up within him, pulled down the house of
life upon his own head.

A soul "unspotted from the world," in a body which one sees visibly soiling
under one's eyes; that improbability is what all who knew him saw in
Dowson, as his youthful physical grace gave way year by year, and the
personal charm underlying it remained unchanged. There never was a simpler
or more attaching charm, because there never was a sweeter or more honest
nature. It was not because he ever said anything particularly clever
or particularly interesting, it was not because he gave you ideas, or
impressed you by any strength or originality, that you liked to be with
him; but because of a certain engaging quality, which seemed unconscious
of itself, which was never anxious to be or to do anything, which simply
existed, as perfume exists in a flower. Drink was like a heavy curtain,
blotting out everything of a sudden; when the curtain lifted, nothing had
changed. Living always that double life, he had his true and his false
aspect, and the true life was the expression of that fresh, delicate, and
uncontaminated nature which some of us knew in him, and which remains for
us, untouched by the other, in every line that he wrote.


Dowson was the only poet I ever knew who cared more for his prose than
his verse; but he was wrong, and it is not by his prose that he will
live, exquisite as that prose was at its best. He wrote two novels in
collaboration with Mr. Arthur Moore: "A Comedy of Masks," in 1893, and
"Adrian Rome," in 1899, both done under the influence of Mr. Henry James,
both interesting because they were personal studies, and studies of known
surroundings, rather than for their actual value as novels. A volume
of "Stories and Studies in Sentiment," called "Dilemmas," in which the
influence of Mr. Wedmore was felt in addition to the influence of Mr.
James, appeared in 1895. Several other short stories, among his best work
in prose, have not yet been reprinted from the _Savoy_. Some translations
from the French, done as hack-work, need not be mentioned here, though
they were never without some traces of his peculiar quality of charm in
language. The short stories were indeed rather "studies in sentiment"
than stories; studies of singular delicacy, but with only a faint hold on
life, so that perhaps the best of them was not unnaturally a study in the
approaches of death: "The Dying of Francis Donne." For the most part they
dealt with the same motives as the poems, hopeless and reverent love, the
ethics of renunciation, the disappointment of those who are too weak or too
unlucky to take what they desire. They have a sad and quiet beauty of their
own, the beauty of second thoughts and subdued emotions, of choice and
scholarly English, moving in the more fluid and reticent harmonies of prose
almost as daintily as if it were moving to the measure of verse. Dowson's
care over English prose was like that of a Frenchman writing his own
language with the respect which Frenchmen pay to French. Even English
things had to come to him through France, if he was to prize them very
highly; and there is a passage in "Dilemmas" which I have always thought
very characteristic of his own tastes, as it refers to an "infinitesimal
library, a few French novels, an Horace, and some well-thumbed volumes
of the modern English poets in the familiar edition of Tauchnitz." He
was Latin by all his affinities, and that very quality of slightness,
of parsimony almost in his dealings with life and the substance of art,
connects him with the artists of Latin races, who have always been so
fastidious in their rejection of mere nature, when it comes too nakedly or
too clamorously into sight and hearing, and so gratefully content with a
few choice things faultlessly done.

And Dowson, in his verse (the "Verses" of 1896, "The Pierrot of the
Minute," a dramatic phantasy in one act, of 1897, the posthumous volume
"Decorations"), was the same scrupulous artist as in his prose, and more
felicitously at home there. He was quite Latin in his feeling for youth,
and death, and "the old age of roses," and the pathos of our little hour
in which to live and love; Latin in his elegance, reticence, and simple
grace in the treatment of these motives; Latin, finally, in his sense of
their sufficiency for the whole of one's mental attitude. He used the
commonplaces of poetry frankly, making them his own by his belief in them:
the Horatian Cynara or Neobule was still the natural symbol for him when he
wished to be most personal. I remember his saying to me that his ideal of a
line of verse was the line of Poe:

"The viol, the violet, and the vine";

and the gracious, not remote or unreal beauty, which clings about such
words and such images as these, was always to him the true poetical beauty.
There never was a poet to whom verse came more naturally, for the song's
sake; his theories were all aesthetic, almost technical ones, such as a
theory, indicated by his preference for the line of Poe, that the letter
"v" was the most beautiful of the letters, and could never be brought into
verse too often. For any more abstract theories he had neither tolerance
nor need. Poetry as a philosophy did not exist for him; it existed solely
as the loveliest of the arts. He loved the elegance of Horace, all that was
most complex in the simplicity of Poe, most birdlike in the human melodies
of Verlaine. He had the pure lyric gift, unweighted or unballasted by any
other quality of mind or emotion; and a song, for him, was music first, and
then whatever you please afterwards, so long as it suggested, never told,
some delicate sentiment, a sigh or a caress; finding words, at times, as
perfect as the words of a poem headed, "O Mors! quam amara est memoria tua
homini pacem habenti in substantiis suis."

There, surely, the music of silence speaks, if it has ever spoken. The
words seem to tremble back into the silence which their whisper has
interrupted, but not before they have created for us a mood, such a mood
as the Venetian Pastoral of Giorgione renders in painting. Languid, half
inarticulate, coming from the heart of a drowsy sorrow very conscious
of itself, and not less sorrowful because it sees its own face looking
mournfully back out of the water, the song seems to have been made by some
fastidious amateur of grief, and it has all the sighs and tremors of the
mood, wrought into a faultless strain of music. Stepping out of a paradise
in which pain becomes so lovely, he can see the beauty which is the other
side of madness, and, in a sonnet, "To One in Bedlam," can create a more
positive, a more poignant mood, with fine subtlety.

Here, in the moment's intensity of this comradeship with madness, observe
how beautiful the whole thing becomes; how instinctively the imagination
of the poet turns what is sordid into a radiance, all stars and flowers
and the divine part of forgetfulness! It is a symbol of the two sides of
his own life: the side open to the street, and the side turned away from
it, where he could "hush and bless himself with silence." No one ever
worshipped beauty more devoutly, and just as we see him here transfiguring
a dreadful thing with beauty, so we shall see, everywhere in his work, that
he never admitted an emotion which he could not so transfigure. He knew his
limits only too well; he knew that the deeper and graver things of life
were for the most part outside the circle of his magic; he passed them by,
leaving much of himself unexpressed, because he would not permit himself
to express nothing imperfectly, or according to anything but his own
conception of the dignity of poetry. In the lyric in which he has
epitomised himself and his whole life, a lyric which is certainly one of
the greatest lyrical poems of our time, "Non sum qualis eram bonae sub
regno Cynarae," he has for once said everything, and he has said it to an
intoxicating and perhaps immortal music.

Here, perpetuated by some unique energy of a temperament rarely so much the
master of itself, is the song of passion and the passions, at their eternal
war in the soul which they quicken or deaden, and in the body which they
break down between them. In the second book, the book of "Decorations,"
there are a few pieces which repeat, only more faintly, this very personal
note. Dowson could never have developed; he had already said, in his
first book of verse, all that he had to say. Had he lived, had he gone on
writing, he could only have echoed himself; and probably it would have been
the less essential part of himself; his obligation to Swinburne, always
evident, increasing as his own inspiration failed him. He was always
without ambition, writing to please his own fastidious taste, with a kind
of proud humility in his attitude towards the public, not expecting or
requiring recognition. He died obscure, having ceased to care even for the
delightful labour of writing. He died young, worn out by what was never
really life to him, leaving a little verse which has the pathos of things
too young and too frail ever to grow old.





To you, who are my verses, as on some very future day, if you ever care
to read them, you will understand, would it not be somewhat trivial to
dedicate any one verse, as I may do, in all humility, to my friends?
Trivial, too, perhaps, only to name you even here? Trivial, presumptuous?
For I need not write your name for you at least to know that this and all
my work is made for you in the first place, and I need not to be reminded
by my critics that I have no silver tongue such as were fit to praise you.
So for once you shall go indedicate, if not quite anonymous; and I will
only commend my little book to you in sentences far beyond my poor compass
which will help you perhaps to be kind to it:

"_Votre personne, vos moindres mouvements me semblaient avoir dans le monde
une importance extrahumaine. Mon coeur comme de la poussiere se soulevait
derriere vos pas. Vous me faisiez l'effet d'un clair-de-lune par une nuit
d'ete, quand tout est parfums, ombres douces, blancheurs, infini; et les
delices de la chair et de l'ame etaient contenues pour moi dans votre nom
que je me repetais en tachant de le baiser sur mes levres.

"Quelquefois vos paroles me reviennent comme un echo lointain, comme le son
d'une cloche apporte par le vent; et il me semble que vous etes la quand
je lis des passages de l'amour dans les livres.... Tout ce qu'on y blame
d'exagere, vous me l'avez fait ressentir._"



_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.



Violets and leaves of vine,
Into a frail, fair wreath
We gather and entwine:
A wreath for Love to wear,
Fragrant as his own breath,
To crown his brow divine,
All day till night is near.
Violets and leaves of vine
We gather and entwine.

Violets and leaves of vine
For Love that lives a day,
We gather and entwine.
All day till Love is dead,
Till eve falls, cold and gray,
These blossoms, yours and mine,
Love wears upon his head,
Violets and leaves of vine
We gather and entwine.

Violets and leaves of vine,
For Love when poor Love dies
We gather and entwine.
This wreath that lives a day
Over his pale, cold eyes,
Kissed shut by Proserpine,
At set of sun we lay:
Violets and leaves of vine
We gather and entwine.


Calm, sad, secure; behind high convent walls,
These watch the sacred lamp, these watch and pray:
And it is one with them when evening falls,
And one with them the cold return of day.

These heed not time; their nights and days they make
Into a long, returning rosary,
Whereon their lives are threaded for Christ's sake;
Meekness and vigilance and chastity.

A vowed patrol, in silent companies,
Life-long they keep before the living Christ.
In the dim church, their prayers and penances
Are fragrant incense to the Sacrificed.

Outside, the world is wild and passionate;
Man's weary laughter and his sick despair
Entreat at their impenetrable gate:
They heed no voices in their dream of prayer.

They saw the glory of the world displayed;
They saw the bitter of it, and the sweet;
They knew the roses of the world should fade,
And be trod under by the hurrying feet.

Therefore they rather put away desire,
And crossed their hands and came to sanctuary
And veiled their heads and put on coarse attire:
Because their comeliness was vanity.

And there they rest; they have serene insight
Of the illuminating dawn to be:
Mary's sweet Star dispels for them the night,
The proper darkness of humanity.

Calm, sad, secure; with faces worn and mild:
Surely their choice of vigil is the best?
Yea! for our roses fade, the world is wild;
But there, beside the altar, there, is rest.


Come hither, Child! and rest:
This is the end of day,
Behold the weary West!

Sleep rounds with equal zest
Man's toil and children's play:
Come hither, Child! and rest.

My white bird, seek thy nest,
Thy drooping head down lay:
Behold the weary West!

Now are the flowers confest
Of slumber: sleep, as they!
Come hither, Child! and rest.

Now eve is manifest,
And homeward lies our way:
Behold the weary West!

Tired flower! upon my breast,
I would wear thee alway:
Come hither, Child! and rest;
Behold, the weary West!


Dew on her robe and on her tangled hair;
Twin dewdrops for her eyes; behold her pass,
With dainty step brushing the young, green grass,
The while she trills some high, fantastic air,
Full of all feathered sweetness: she is fair,
And all her flower-like beauty, as a glass,
Mirrors out hope and love: and still, alas!
Traces of tears her languid lashes wear.

Say, doth she weep for very wantonness?
Or is it that she dimly doth foresee
Across her youth the joys grow less and less
The burden of the days that are to be:
Autumn and withered leaves and vanity,
And winter bringing end in barrenness.


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 enchaunted 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!


Little lady of my heart!
Just a little longer,
Love me: we will pass and part,
Ere this love grow stronger.

I have loved thee, Child! too well,
To do aught but leave thee:
Nay! my lips should never tell
Any tale, to grieve thee.

Little lady of my heart!
Just a little longer,
I may love thee: we will part,
Ere my love grow stronger.

Soon thou leavest fairy-land;
Darker grow thy tresses:
Soon no more of hand in hand;
Soon no more caresses!

Little lady of my heart!
Just a little longer,
Be a child: then, we will part,
Ere this love grow stronger.


A gift of Silence, sweet!
Who may not ever hear:
To lay down at your unobservant feet,
Is all the gift I bear.

I have no songs to sing,
That you should heed or know:
I have no lilies, in full hands, to fling
Across the path you go.

I cast my flowers away,
Blossoms unmeet for you!
The garland I have gathered in my day:
My rosemary and rue.

I watch you pass and pass,
Serene and cold: I lay
My lips upon your trodden, daisied grass,
And turn my life away.

Yea, for I cast you, sweet!
This one gift, you shall take:
Like ointment, on your unobservant feet,
My silence, for your sake.


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, fleeting 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.


"A little, _passionately, not at all?_"
She casts the snowy petals on the air:
And what care we how many petals fall!

Nay, wherefore seek the seasons to forestall?
It is but playing, and she will not care,
A little, passionately, not at all!

She would not answer us if we should call
Across the years: her visions are too fair;
And what care we how many petals fall!

She knows us not, nor recks if she enthrall
With voice and eyes and fashion of her hair,
A little, passionately, not at all!

Knee-deep she goes in meadow grasses tall,
Kissed by the daisies that her fingers tear:
And what care we how many petals fall!

We pass and go: but she shall not recall
What men we were, nor all she made us bear:
"_A little, passionately, not at all!_"
And what care we how many petals fall!


In your mother's apple-orchard,
Just a year ago, last spring:
Do you remember, Yvonne!
The dear trees lavishing
Rain of their starry blossoms
To make you a coronet?
Do you ever remember, Yvonne?
As I remember yet.

In your mother's apple-orchard,
When the world was left behind:
You were shy, so shy, Yvonne!
But your eyes were calm and kind.
We spoke of the apple harvest,
When the cider press is set,
And such-like trifles, Yvonne!
That doubtless you forget.

In the still, soft Breton twilight,
We were silent; words were few,
Till your mother came out chiding,
For the grass was bright with dew:
But I know your heart was beating,
Like a fluttered, frightened dove.
Do you ever remember, Yvonne?
That first faint flush of love?

In the fulness of midsummer,
When the apple-bloom was shed,
Oh, brave was your surrender,
Though shy the words you said.
I was glad, so glad, Yvonne!
To have led you home at last;
Do you ever remember, Yvonne!
How swiftly the days passed?


In your mother's apple-orchard
It is grown too dark to stray,
There is none to chide you, Yvonne!
You are over far away.
There is dew on your grave grass, Yvonne!
But your feet it shall not wet:
No, you never remember, Yvonne!
And I shall soon forget.


Without, the sullen noises of the street!
The voice of London, inarticulate,
Hoarse and blaspheming, surges in to meet
The silent blessing of the Immaculate.

Dark is the church, and dim the worshippers,
Hushed with bowed heads as though by some old spell.
While through the incense-laden air there stirs
The admonition of a silver bell.

Dark is the church, save where the altar stands,
Dressed like a bride, illustrious with light,
Where one old priest exalts with tremulous hands
The one true solace of man's fallen plight.

Strange silence here: without, the sounding street
Heralds the world's swift passage to the fire:
O Benediction, perfect and complete!
When shall men cease to suffer and desire?


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 maidenhood,
And found the old tenderness within her deepening eyes,
But kinder than before.


I was always a lover of ladies' hands!
Or ever mine heart came here to tryst,
For the sake of your carved white hands' commands;
The tapering fingers, the dainty wrist;
The hands of a girl were what I kissed.

I remember an hand like a _fleur-de-lys_
When it slid from its silken sheath, her glove;
With its odours passing ambergris:
And that was the empty husk of a love.
Oh, how shall I kiss your hands enough?

They are pale with the pallor of ivories;
But they blush to the tips like a curled sea-shell:
What treasure, in kingly treasuries,
Of gold, and spice for the thurible,
Is sweet as her hands to hoard and tell?

I know not the way from your finger-tips,
Nor how I shall gain the higher lands,
The citadel of your sacred lips:
I am captive still of my pleasant bands,
The hands of a girl, and most your hands.


I would not alter thy cold eyes,
Nor trouble the calm fount of speech
With aught of passion or surprise.
The heart of thee I cannot reach:
I would not alter thy cold eyes!

I would not alter thy cold eyes;
Nor have thee smile, nor make thee weep:
Though all my life droops down and dies,
Desiring thee, desiring sleep,
I would not alter thy cold eyes.

I would not alter thy cold eyes;
I would not change thee if I might,
To whom my prayers for incense rise,
Daughter of dreams! my moon of night!
I would not alter thy cold eyes.

I would not alter thy cold eyes,
With trouble of the human heart:
Within their glance my spirit lies,
A frozen thing, alone, apart;
I would not alter thy cold eyes.


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 thee, 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.


Beyond the need of weeping,
Beyond the reach of hands,
May she be quietly sleeping,
In what dim nebulous lands?
Ah, she who understands!

The long, long winter weather,
These many years and days,
Since she, and Death, together,
Left me the wearier ways:
And now, these tardy bays!

The crown and victor's token:
How are they worth to-day?
The one word left unspoken,
It were late now to say:
But cast the palm away!

For once, ah once, to meet her,
Drop laurel from tired hands:
Her cypress were the sweeter,
In her oblivious lands:
Haply she understands!

Yet, crossed that weary river,
In some ulterior land,
Or anywhere, or ever,
Will she stretch out a hand?
And will she understand?


By the sad waters of separation
Where we have wandered by divers ways,
I have but the shadow and imitation
Of the old memorial days.

In music I have no consolation,
No roses are pale enough for me;
The sound of the waters of separation
Surpasseth roses and melody.

By the sad waters of separation
Dimly I hear from an hidden place
The sigh of mine ancient adoration:
Hardly can I remember your face.

If you be dead, no proclamation
Sprang to me over the waste, gray sea:
Living, the waters of separation
Sever for ever your soul from me.

No man knoweth our desolation;
Memory pales of the old delight;
While the sad waters of separation
Bear us on to the ultimate night.


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.


Exceeding sorrow
Consumeth my sad heart!
Because to-morrow
We must depart,
Now is exceeding sorrow
All my part!

Give over playing,
Cast thy viol away:
Merely laying
Thine head my way:
Prithee, give over playing,
Grave or gay.

Be no word spoken;
Weep nothing: let a pale
Silence, unbroken
Silence prevail!
Prithee, be no word spoken,
Lest I fail!

Forget to-morrow!
Weep nothing: only lay
In silent sorrow
Thine head my way:
Let us forget to-morrow,
This one day!

_Ah, dans ces mornes sejours
Les jamais sont les toujours_

You would have understood me, had you waited;
I could have loved you, dear! as well as he:
Had we not been impatient, dear! and fated
Always to disagree.

What is the use of speech? Silence were fitter:
Lest we should still be wishing things unsaid.
Though all the words we ever spake were bitter,
Shall I reproach you dead?

Nay, let this earth, your portion, likewise cover
All the old anger, setting us apart:
Always, in all, in truth was I your lover;
Always, I held your heart.

I have met other women who were tender,
As you were cold, dear! with a grace as rare.
Think you, I turned to them, or made surrender,
I who had found you fair?

Had we been patient, dear! ah, had you waited,
I had fought death for you, better than he:
But from the very first, dear! we were fated
Always to disagree.

Late, late, I come to you, now death discloses
Love that in life was not to be our part:
On your low lying mound between the roses,
Sadly I cast my heart.

I would not waken you: nay! this is fitter;
Death and the darkness give you unto me;
Here we who loved so, were so cold and bitter,
Hardly can disagree.


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?


Sometimes, to solace my sad heart, I say,
Though late it be, though lily-time be past,
Though all the summer skies be overcast,
Haply I will go down to her, some day,
And cast my rests of life before her feet,
That she may have her will of me, being so sweet
And none gainsay!

So might she look on me with pitying eyes,
And lay calm hands of healing on my head:
"_Because of thy long pains be comforted;
For I, even I, am Love: sad soul, arise!_"
So, for her graciousness, I might at last
Gaze on the very face of Love, and hold Him fast
In no disguise.

Haply, I said, she will take pity on me,
Though late I come, long after lily-time,
With burden of waste days and drifted rhyme:
Her kind, calm eyes, down drooping maidenly,
Shall change, grow soft: there yet is time, meseems,
I said, for solace; though I know these things are dreams
And may not be!


I said: "There is an end of my desire:
Now have I sown, and I have harvested,
And these are ashes of an ancient fire,
Which, verily, shall not be quickened.
Now will I take me to a place of peace,
Forget mine heart's desire;
In solitude and prayer, work out my soul's release.

"I shall forget her eyes, how cold they were;
Forget her voice, how soft it was and low,
With all my singing that she did not hear,
And all my service that she did not know.
I shall not hold the merest memory
Of any days that were,
Within those solitudes where I will fasten me."

And once she passed, and once she raised her eyes,
And smiled for courtesy, and nothing said:
And suddenly the old flame did uprise,
And all my dead desire was quickened.
Yea! as it hath been, it shall ever be,
Most passionless, pure eyes!
Which never shall grow soft, nor change, nor pity me.


Neobule, being tired,
Far too tired to laugh or weep,
From the hours, rosy and gray,
Hid her golden face away.
Neobule, fain of sleep,
Slept at last as she desired!

Neobule! is it well,
That you haunt the hollow lands,
Where the poor, dead people stray,
Ghostly, pitiful and gray,
Plucking, with their spectral hands,
Scentless blooms of asphodel?

Neobule, tired to death
Of the flowers that I threw
On her flower-like, fair feet,
Sighed for blossoms not so sweet,
Lunar roses pale and blue,
Lilies of the world beneath.

Neobule! ah, too tired
Of the dreams and days above!
Where the poor, dead people stray,
Ghostly, pitiful and gray,
Out of life and out of love,
Sleeps the sleep which she desired.


What land of Silence,
Where pale stars shine
On apple-blossom
And dew-drenched vine,
Is yours and mine?

The silent valley
That we will find,
Where all the voices
Of humankind
Are left behind.

There all forgetting,
Forgotten quite,
We will repose us,
With our delight
Hid out of sight.

The world forsaken,
And out of mind
Honour and labour,
We shall not find
The stars unkind.

And men shall travail,
And laugh and weep;
But we have vistas
Of Gods asleep,
With dreams as deep.

A land of Silence,
Where pale stars shine
On apple-blossoms
And dew-drenched vine,
Be yours and mine!


Even now the fragrant darkness of her hair
Had brushed my cheek; and once, in passing by,
Her hand upon my hand lay tranquilly:
What things unspoken trembled in the air!

Always I know, how little severs me
From mine heart's country, that is yet so far;
And must I lean and long across a bar,
That half a word would shatter utterly?

Ah might it be, that just by touch of hand,
Or speaking silence, shall the barrier fall;
And she shall pass, with no vain words at all,
But droop into mine arms, and understand!


Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees,
That hardly sway before a breeze
As soft as summer: summer's loss
Seems little, dear! on days like these.

Let misty autumn be our part!
The twilight of the year is sweet:
Where shadow and the darkness meet
Our love, a twilight of the heart
Eludes a little time's deceit.

Are we not better and at home
In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
A little while, then, let us dream.

Beyond the pearled horizons lie
Winter and night: awaiting these
We garner this poor hour of ease,
Until love turn from us and die
Beneath the drear November trees.


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!


I took her dainty eyes, as well
As silken tendrils of her hair:
And so I made a Villanelle!

I took her voice, a silver bell,
As clear as song, as soft as prayer;
I took her dainty eyes as well.

It may be, said I, who can tell,
These things shall be my less despair?
And so I made a Villanelle!

I took her whiteness virginal
And from her cheek two roses rare:
I took her dainty eyes as well.

I said: "It may be possible
Her image from my heart to tear!"
And so I made a Villanelle.

I stole her laugh, most musical:
I wrought it in with artful care;
I took her dainty eyes as well;
And so I made a Villanelle.


A while we wandered (thus it is I dream!)
Through a long, sandy track of No Man's Land,
Where only poppies grew among the sand,
The which we, plucking, cast with scant esteem,
And ever sadlier, into the sad stream,
Which followed us, as we went, hand in hand,
Under the estranged stars, a road unplanned,
Seeing all things in the shadow of a dream.

And ever sadlier, as the stars expired,
We found the poppies rarer, till thine eyes
Grown all my light, to light me were too tired,
And at their darkening, that no surmise
Might haunt me of the lost days we desired,
After them all I flung those memories!


Strange grows the river on the sunless evenings!
The river comforts me, grown spectral, vague and dumb:
Long was the day; at last the consoling shadows come:
_Sufficient for the day are the day's evil things!_

Labour and longing and despair the long day brings;
Patient till evening men watch the sun go west;
Deferred, expected night at last brings sleep and rest:
_Sufficient for the day are the day's evil things!_

At last the tranquil Angelus of evening rings
Night's curtain down for comfort and oblivion
Of all the vanities observed by the sun:
_Sufficient for the day are the day's evil things!_

So, some time, when the last of all our evenings
Crowneth memorially the last of all our days,
Not loth to take his poppies man goes down and says,
"Sufficient for the day were the day's evil things!"


Love heeds no more the sighing of the wind
Against the perfect flowers: thy garden's close
Is grown a wilderness, where none shall find
One strayed, last petal of one last year's rose.

O bright, bright hair! O mount like a ripe fruit!
Can famine be so nigh to harvesting?
Love, that was songful, with a broken lute
In grass of graveyards goeth murmuring.

Let the wind blow against the perfect flowers,
And all thy garden change and glow with spring:
Love is grown blind with no more count of hours
Nor part in seed-tune nor in harvesting.


Oh, I would live in a dairy,
And its Colin I would be,
And many a rustic fairy
Should churn the milk with me.

Or the fields should be my pleasure,
And my flocks should follow me,
Piping a frolic measure
For Joan or Marjorie.

For the town is black and weary,
And I hate the London street;
But the country ways are cheery,
And country lanes are sweet.

Good luck to you, Paris ladies!
Ye are over fine and nice
I know where the country maid is,
Who needs not asking twice.

Ye are brave in your silks and satins,
As ye mince about the Town;
But her feet go free in pattens,
If she wear a russet gown.

If she be not queen nor goddess
She shall milk my brown-eyed herds,
And the breasts beneath her bodice
Are whiter than her curds.

So I will live in a dairy,
And its Colin I will be,
And its Joan that I will marry,
Or, haply, Marjorie.


Mark the day white, on which the Fates have smiled:
Eugenio and Egeria have a child.
On whom abundant grace kind Jove imparts
If she but copy either parent's parts.
Then, Muses! long devoted to her race,
Grant her Egeria's virtues and her face;
Nor stop your bounty there, but add to it
Eugenio's learning and Eugenio's wit.


Upon the eyes, the lips, the feet,
On all the passages of sense,
The atoning oil is spread with sweet
Renewal of lost innocence.

The feet, that lately ran so fast
To meet desire, are soothly sealed;
The eyes, that were so often cast
On vanity, are touched and healed.

From troublous sights and sounds set free;
In such a twilight hour of breath,
Shall one retrace his life, or see,
Through shadows, the true face of death?

Vials of mercy! Sacring oils!
I know not where nor when I come,
Nor through what wanderings and toils,
To crave of you Viaticum.

Yet, when the walls of flesh grow weak,
In such an hour, it well may be,
Through mist and darkness, light will break,
And each anointed sense will see.


When this, our rose, is faded,
And these, our days, are done,
In lands profoundly shaded
From tempest and from sun:
Ah, once more come together,
Shall we forgive the past,
And safe from worldly weather
Possess our souls at last?

Or in our place of shadows
Shall still we stretch an hand
To green, remembered meadows,
Of that old pleasant land?
And vainly there foregathered,
Shall we regret the sun?
The rose of love, ungathered?
The bay, we have not won?

Ah, child! the world's dark marges
May lead to Nevermore,
The stately funeral barges
Sail for an unknown shore,
And love we vow to-morrow,
And pride we serve to-day:
What if they both should borrow
Sad hues of yesterday?

Our pride! Ah, should we miss it,
Or will it serve at last?
Our anger, if we kiss it,
Is like a sorrow past.
While roses deck the garden,
While yet the sun is high,
Doff sorry pride for pardon,
Or ever love go by.


Before my light goes out for ever if God should give me a choice of
I would not reck of length of days, nor crave for things to be;
But cry: "One day of the great lost days, one face of all the faces,
Grant me to see and touch once more and nothing more to see.

"For, Lord, I was free of all Thy flowers, but I chose the world's
sad roses,
And that is why my feet are torn and mine eyes are blind with sweat,
But at Thy terrible judgment-seat, when this my tired life closes,
I am ready to reap whereof I sowed, and pay my righteous debt.

"But once before the sand is run and the silver thread is broken,
Give me a grace and cast aside the veil of dolorous years,
Grant me one hour of all mine hours, and let me see for a token
Her pure and pitiful eyes shine out, and bathe her feet with tears."

Her pitiful hands should calm, and her hair stream down and blind me,
Out of the sight of night, and out of the reach of fear,
And her eyes should be my light whilst the sun went out behind me,
And the viols in her voice be the last sound in mine ear.

Before the ruining waters fall and my life be carried under,
And Thine anger cleave me through as a child cuts down a flower,
I will praise Thee, Lord in Hell, while my limbs are racked asunder,
For the last sad sight of her face and the little grace of an hour.


If we must part,
Then let it be like this;
Not heart on heart,
Nor with the useless anguish of a kiss;
But touch mine hand and say:
"_Until to-morrow or some other day,
If we must part._"

Words are so weak
When love hath been so strong:
Let silence speak:
"_Life is a little while, and love is long;
A time to sow and reap,
And after harvest a long time to sleep.
But words are weak._"


The wisdom of the world said unto me:
"_Go forth and run, the race is to the brave;
Perchance some honour tarrieth for thee!_"
"As tarrieth," I said, "for sure, the grave."
For I had pondered on a rune of roses,
Which to her votaries the moon discloses.

The wisdom of the world said: "_There are bays:
Go forth and run, for victory is good,
After the stress of the laborious days._"
"Yet," said I, "shall I be the worms' sweet food,"
As I went musing on a rune of roses,
Which in her hour, the pale, soft moon discloses.

Then said my voices: "_Wherefore strive or run,
On dusty highways ever, a vain race?
The long night cometh, starless, void of sun,
What light shall serve thee like her golden face?_"
For I had pondered on a rune of roses,
And knew some secrets which the moon discloses.

"Yea," said I, "for her eyes are pure and sweet
As lilies, and the fragrance of her hair
Is many laurels; and it is not meet
To run for shadows when the prize is here";
And I went reading in that rune of roses
Which to her votaries the moon discloses.

_Dum nos fata sinunt, oculos satiemus Amore._--PROPERTIUS

Cease smiling, Dear! a little while be sad,
Here in the silence, under the wan moon;
Sweet are thine eyes, but how can I be glad,
Knowing they change so soon?

For Love's sake, Dear, be silent! Cover me
In the deep darkness of thy falling hair:
Fear is upon me and the memory
Of what is all men's share.

O could this moment be perpetuate!
Must we grow old, and leaden-eyed and gray,
And taste no more the wild and passionate
Love sorrows of to-day?

Grown old, and faded, Sweet! and past desire,
Let memory die, lest there be too much ruth,
Remembering the old, extinguished fire
Of our divine, lost youth.

O red pomegranate of thy perfect mouth!
My lips' life-fruitage, might I taste and die
Here in thy garden, where the scented south
Wind chastens agony;

Reap death from thy live lips in one long kiss,
And look my last into thine eyes and rest:
What sweets had life to me sweeter than this
Swift dying on thy breast?

Or, if that may not be, for Love's sake, Dear!
Keep silence still, and dream that we shall lie,
Red mouth to mouth, entwined, and always hear
The south wind's melody,

Here in thy garden, through the sighing boughs,
Beyond the reach of time and chance and change,
And bitter life and death, and broken vows,
That sadden and estrange.


Come not before me now, O visionary face!
Me tempest-tost, and borne along life's passionate sea;
Troublous and dark and stormy though my passage be;
Not here and now may we commingle or embrace,
Lest the loud anguish of the waters should efface
The bright illumination of thy memory,
Which dominates the night; rest, far away from me,
In the serenity of thine abiding place!

But when the storm is highest, and the thunders blare,
And sea and sky are riven, O moon of all my night!
Stoop down but once in pity of my great despair,
And let thine hand, though over late to help, alight
But once upon my pale eyes and my drowning hair,
Before the great waves conquer in the last vain fight.


Because I am idolatrous and have besought,
With grievous supplication and consuming prayer,
The admirable image that my dreams have wrought
Out of her swan's neck and her dark, abundant hair:
The jealous gods, who brook no worship save their own,
Turned my live idol marble and her heart to stone.


Why is there in the least touch of her hands
More grace than other women's lips bestow,
If love is but a slave in fleshly bands
Of flesh to flesh, wherever love may go?

Why choose vain grief and heavy-hearted hours
For her lost voice, and dear remembered hair,
If love may cull his honey from all flowers,
And girls grow thick as violets, everywhere?

Nay! She is gone, and all things fall apart;
Or she is cold, and vainly have we prayed;
And broken is the summer's splendid heart,
And hope within a deep, dark grave is laid.

As man aspires and falls, yet a soul springs
Out of his agony of flesh at last,
So love that flesh enthralls, shall rise on wings
Soul-centred, when the rule of flesh is past.

Then, most High Love, or wreathed with myrtle sprays,
Or crownless and forlorn, nor less a star,
Thee may I serve and follow, all my days,
Whose thorns are sweet as never roses are!


In the deep violet air,
Not a leaf is stirred;
There is no sound heard,
But afar, the rare
Trilled voice of a bird.

Is the wood's dim heart,
And the fragrant pine,
Incense, and a shrine
Of her coming? Apart,
I wait for a sign.

What the sudden hush said,
She will hear, and forsake,
Swift, for my sake,
Her green, grassy bed:
She will hear and awake!

She will hearken and glide,
From her place of deep rest,
Dove-eyed, with the breast
Of a dove, to my side:
The pines bow their crest.

I wait for a sign:
The leaves to be waved,
The tall tree-tops laved
In a flood of sunshine,
This world to be saved!

_In the deep violet air,
Not a leaf is stirred;
There is no sound heard,
But afar, the rare
Trilled voice of a bird._





_A glade in the Parc due Petit Trianon. In the centre a Doric temple with
steps coming down the stage. On the left a little Cupid on a pedestal.

[_Pierrot enters with his hands full of lilies. He is burdened with a
little basket. He stands gazing at the Temple and the Statue._]

My journey's end! This surely is the glade
Which I was promised: I have well obeyed!
A clue of lilies was I bid to find,
Where the green alleys most obscurely wind;
Where tall oaks darkliest canopy o'erhead,
And moss and violet make the softest bed;
Where the path ends, and leagues behind me lie
The gleaming courts and gardens of Versailles;
The lilies streamed before me, green and white;
I gathered, following; they led me right,
To the bright temple and the sacred grove:
This is, in truth, the very shrine of Love!

[_He gathers together his flowers and lays them at the foot of Cupid's
statue; then he goes timidly up the first steps of the temple and stops._]

It is so solitary, I grow afraid.
Is there no priest here, no devoted maid?
Is there no oracle, no voice to speak,
Interpreting to me the word I seek?

[_A very gentle music of lutes floats out from the temple. Pierrot starts
back; he shows extreme surprise; then he returns to the foreground, and
crouches down in rapt attention until the music ceases. His face grows
puzzled and petulant._]

Too soon! too soon! in that enchanting strain,
Days yet unlived, I almost lived again:
It almost taught me that I most would know--
Why am I here, and why am I Pierrot?

[_Absently he picks up a lily which has fallen to the ground, and

Why came I here, and why am I Pierrot?
That music and this silence both affright;
Pierrot can never be a friend of night.
I never felt my solitude before--
Once safe at home, I will return no more.
Yet the commandment of the scroll was plain;
While the light lingers let me read again.

[_He takes a scroll from his bosom and reads:_]

"_He loves to-night who never loved before;
Who ever loved, to-night shall love once more._"
_I_ never loved! I know not what love is.
I am so ignorant--but what is this?
"_Who would adventure to encounter Love
Must rest one night within this hallowed grove.
Cast down thy lilies, which have led thee on,
Before the tender feet of Cupidon._"
Thus much is done, the night remains to me.
Well, Cupidon, be my security!
Here is more writing, but too faint to read.
[_He puzzles for a moment, then casts the scroll down._]

Hence, vain old parchment. I have learnt thy rede!

[_He looks round uneasily, starts at his shadow; then discovers his basket
with glee. He takes out a flask of wine, pours it into a glass, and

_Courage, mon Ami!_ I shall never miss
Society with such a friend as this.
How merrily the rosy bubbles pass,
Across the amber crystal of the glass.
I had forgotten you. Methinks this quest
Can wake no sweeter echo in my breast.

[_Looks round at the statue, and starts._]

Nay, little god! forgive. I did but jest.

[_He fills another glass, and pours it upon the statue._]

This libation, Cupid, take,
With the lilies at thy feet;
Cherish Pierrot for their sake:
Send him visions strange and sweet,
While he slumbers at thy feet.
Only love kiss him awake!
_Only love kiss him awake_!

[_Slowly falls the darkness, soft music plays, while Pierrot gathers
together fern and foliage into a rough couch at the foot of the steps which
lead to the Temple d'Amour. Then he lies down upon it, having made his
prayer. It is night._]

PIERROT [_Softly._]
Music, more music, far away and faint:
It is an echo of mine heart's complaint.
Why should I be so musical and sad?
I wonder why I used to be so glad?


Back to Full Books