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After Ernest Dowson's death in 1900, Oscar Wilde wrote: "Poor wounded wonderful fellow that he was, a tragic reproduction of all tragic poetry, like a symbol, or a scene. I hope bay leaves will be laid on his tomb and rue and myrtle too for he knew what love was".


What Is Love?

by Ernest Dowson


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
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.




The Moon Maiden's Song

by Ernest Dowson


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.




Ernest Dowson was born August 2, 1867 in Kent England his full name was Ernest Christopher Dowson.  He attended Queen’s College, Oxford but left before he graduated and worked for his father in the Limehouse of London. He was a member of the Decadents, a circle of English poets that included William Butler Yeats and Arthur Symons. Dowson’s lyrics were like those of French poet Paul Verlaine.  Dowson’s attention to melody and cadence influenced his generation. His work reflected a world-weariness, a deep sense of the sadness of things. Yeats acknowledged that much of his own technical development was due to Dowson.

After not being able to marry the woman he loved - “drowning the pain of his unrequited love with wine and women and demanding as time went on ‘madder music and stronger wine.” His father died of TB, his mother committed suicide, the family dry dock business in the Limehouse district failed.  Dowson moved to France, drinking himself to death, a friend R. H. Sheerard found him in Paris, penniless and ill.  He was taken back to London where he died, Feb. 23, 1900.


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The Irrepressible One

by Norbert Lusk

Picture-Play Magazine - October 1923

" I love him.  If he weren’t dead I’d make him marry me.”  Mabel whirled