By Ernest Dowson
A minor poet of the late Victorian era, Ernest Dowson (1867-1900), is associated with the Decadent movement in Poetry. Influenced by Baudelaire and Swinburne, Dowson was on friendly terms with Oscar Wilde whom he took to a brothel in France, hoping the experience might give the homosexual Wilde “a more wholesome taste” for female flesh. He failed. Wilde quipped later: “It was like making love to dead mutton.”
The 8-line poem by Dowson featured below is generally regarded as one of the most beautiful short poems in the English language.
Evelyn De Morgan, The Hourglass
Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam
(“Life’s brief passage forbids us to crave for a longer life.”— 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.