Ernest Dowson: Sonnets of a Little Girl, V

This beautiful poem, probably written in 1885, is the most fitting epitaph for the poet.

SONNETS OF A LITTLE GIRL (V)

When it is over–when the final fight
    Has been out-fought and the last moisty clod
    Rattles upon my coffin, when the sod
Seals me for ever in that land of night
Whence joy and pain have ta’en impartial flight,
    And the old lanes my feet so oft have trod
    Know me no more but all men toil and plod
Over my head, my name forgotten quite.
Wilt thou sometimes–not often–God forfend
That thought of me should chase away thy smile
Or dull thy gladness, yet once in a while
Dream of a day departed and a friend
Who placed above the world and Fortune’s prize
The love that centred in thy childish eyes.

Patti Smith - Dream of Life

Patti Smith – Dream of Life

Sources: poem from Poésie Schublade, in Ernest Dowson Collected Poems, Robert Kelsey Rought Thornton and Caroline Dowson (editors), Birmingham University Press, 2003; featured image from A Grave Interest; side photograph: still image from Dream of Life by Patti Smith (in Patell and Waterman’s History of New York).

Ernest Dowson: Sonnets of a Little Girl, II

As the 7 other sonnets in this series, this one was probably written in 1885. Again it tells us that only a little girl can relieve the poet’s heart from bitterness and sorrow.

SONNETS OF A LITTLE GIRL (II)

Was it at even, with the casement thrown
    Wide to the summer air, I sat and thought,
Of that ideal which I ever sought,
    But fruitlessly—and so was fain to moan—
“Ah weariness of waiting thus alone,
    With vanity of living all distraught,
To find upon the earth nor peace nor aught
    Lovely or pure, whence all things sweet have gone.”
And then one passed the dark’ning road along
And lit it with her childhood, that I felt
Passion and bitterness like snowflakes melt
Before the sun, and into praise and song
From the despair wherein it long had dwelt
My life burst flower-like and my soul grew strong.

Source: from Poésie Schublade, in Ernest Dowson Collected Poems, Robert Kelsey Rought Thornton and Caroline Dowson (editors), Birmingham University Press, 2003.

Un Inuit romantique, par Peter Freuchen

L’explorateur et ethnologue Peter Freuchen (1886–1957) vécut longtemps dans le Nord-Groenland, l’explora de fond en comble, commerçant avec les Inuits et se liant d’amitié avec eux. Il épousa même une fille de ce peuple, Navarana. Vivant dans l’environnement le plus hostile de la Terre, les Inuits avaient sur de nombreuses questions un point de vue très pragmatique. En particulier ils considéraient le mariage comme l’association économique et familiale d’un homme et d’une femme, certes basée sur des liens de solidarité, mais n’impliquant aucune fidélité amoureuse ou sexuelle ; souvent les hommes se prêtaient mutuellement leurs épouses pour des motifs purement utilitaires, et une femme pouvait considérer la prostitution avec les Européens comme une simple affaire commerciale, obtenant en cela l’approbation de son mari. CONTINUE READING…

Ernest Dowson: Sonnets of a Little Girl, III

In these verses, probably written around 1885, Dowson tells us that there is no sweeter music than a child’s name, it illuminates the poet’s life and relieves his heart of all sorrow.

SONNETS OF A LITTLE GIRL (III)

The music in a name, who can conceive,
    Who may define? Ah child thou dost not know
How many a time when my life’s lamp burns low
    And hope’s light flickers—thou wouldst not believe
How thy dear treasured name will oft relieve
    My sinking heart, how sweetly soft and low
My lips will frame it loath to let it go,
    And kiss it quietly till I cease to grieve.
It is mine amulet, wrought rich and rare
With lovely fantasies, it is a charm
That whispered gently guardeth me from harm,
It is my ritual, my mystic prayer,
And in the hush of night thro’ lattice bars
I see it written in the lonely stars.

Source: from Poésie Schublade, in Ernest Dowson Collected Poems, Robert Kelsey Rought Thornton and Caroline Dowson (editors), Birmingham University Press, 2003.

Quote

Amour

Illustration de Pierre Bonnard pour Le Surmâle d'Alfred Jarry

Illustration de Pierre Bonnard pour Le Surmâle d’Alfred Jarry

« L’amour est un acte sans importance, puisqu’on peut le faire indéfiniment.
Indéfiniment…
Si. Il y avait une fin.
La fin de la Femme.
La fin de l’Amour. » Alfred Jarry, Le Surmâle

 

« Hors de l’entrelacs des seins jeunes et des croupes, des sibylles constatent la formule du bonheur qui est double : Soyez amoureuses et Soyez mystérieuses. » Alfred Jarry, Gestes et Opinions du Docteur Faustroll, Pataphysicien

Ernest Dowson: Sonnets of a Little Girl, IV

Of the 8 Sonnets of a Little Girl, probably only this one, the 4th, was published in Dowson’s lifetime. It appeared in London Society, volume 50, November 1886.

SONNETS OF A LITTLE GIRL(IV)

Even as a child whose eager fingers snatch
    An ocean shell and hold it to his ear,
With wondering, awe-struck eyes is hushed to catch
    The murmurous music of its coil`ed sphere;
Whispers of wind and wave, soul-stirring songs
    Of storm-tossed ships and all the mystery
That to the illimitable sea belongs,
    Stream to him from its tiny cavity.
As such an one with reverent awe I hold
Thy tender hand, and in those pure grey eyes,
That sweet child face, those tumbled curls of gold,
And in thy smiles and loving, soft replies
    I find the whole of love, hear full and low
Its mystic ocean’s tremulous ebb and flow.

Sources: poem from Poésie Schublade, in Ernest Dowson Collected Poems, Robert Kelsey Rought Thornton and Caroline Dowson (editors), Birmingham University Press, 2003; photograph from Wikimedia Commons of the statue Fillette à la coquille by Léopold Morice on the Pont Alexandre III, Paris, France.

Eva, fille adorable et robot défectueux

This is a slightly extended French translation of an article in Pigtails in Paint.

Eva est un film espagnol réalisé par Kike Maíllo et généralement considéré comme de la science-fiction. En apparence il traite de robotique, on y voit plusieurs robots animés remplissant divers rôles, de réceptionniste à animal de compagnie, mais pour moi cela semble de l’ostentation. Il y a néanmoins un aspect poétique en eux, car ils peuvent être désactivés par la phrase « Que vois-tu quand tu fermes les yeux ? » CONTINUE READING…

Ernest Dowson: Sonnets of a Little Girl, I

Ernest Dowson wrote Sonnets of a Little Girl, a group of 8 poems, around 1885. It seems that in his lifetime, only the 4th was published.

In the first poem, Dowson tells us that life is full of disappointments, but its only consolation is a child’s love. There is also a paradox in it, as he says “all things die and wane, save this alone”. Indeed, childhood is by nature a transient state; moreover the way of loving and the objects of love change when one grows. Dowson was aware of this, since several of his poems present a child’s love as an ephemeral experience, to be enjoyed for a short time (Ad Domnulam Suam, Transition), fleeting and dreamlike (A Mosaic), subject to a child’s forgetfulness (Yvonne of Brittany), and finally a nostalgic memory of the past (Jadis).

SONNETS OF A LITTLE GIRL (I)

When life doth languish midst the bitter wrong
▬▬That riots everywhere, when all hopes fail,
And comfort is most weak and doubt most strong,
▬▬And friends are false and woman’s troth proves frail,
And all thy soul for very life-sickness
▬▬Doth long to end, there yet is one sweet thing,
One fresh oasis in the wilderness
▬▬Of this sad world whereunto thou shalt cling
As to salvation–a child’s tender love.
▬▬Ah do not doubt it–all things die and wane,
Save this alone; this only lasts above,
▬▬The lingering rule of weariness and pain,
This love alone is stingless and can calm
Life’s fitful fever with its healing balm.

Source: from Poésie Schublade, in Ernest Dowson Collected Poems, Robert Kelsey Rought Thornton and Caroline Dowson (editors), Birmingham University Press, 2003.

Ernest Dowson: Adios!

Odysseas Oikonomou - title unknown - from iamachild.wordpress.com

Odysseas Oikonomou – title unknown – from iamachild.wordpress.com

Farewell to a beloved child.

ADIOS!

My sweet child-love, farewell!
    My little tender flower
Who comforted me long and well,
    In many a hope-deserted hour,
        I bid thee now farewell.

The years shall come and go
    And thro’ thy village home,
The rippling streamlet still shall flow,
    While far away my footsteps roam,
        Who bid thee now farewell.

O sweet, O saintly face,
    And innocent grey eyes,
That shone with such pathetic grace,
    Wherein such dreamy wisdom lies,
        I bid you now farewell.

Flow on, dear life in peace,
    In peace and purity,
And all my life I shall not cease,
    To hold thee shrined in memory,
        Who bid thee now farewell.

Source: from Poésie Schublade, in Ernest Dowson Collected Poems, Robert Kelsey Rought Thornton and Caroline Dowson (editors), Birmingham University Press, 2003.

Ernest Dowson: Ere I go Hence

Odysseas Oikonomou - title unknown - from iamachild.wordpress.com

Odysseas Oikonomou – title unknown – from iamachild.wordpress.com

At the point of death, holding a child’s hand and watching her beautiful face is a last consolation.

ERE I GO HENCE

Ere I go hence and am no longer seen,
Ere I go hence into the dark of death,
And leave my body and my vital breath,
While over me the grass grows dank and green,
Let me behold thee, let me once again
Press thy fair palm, my fairest without stain,
♥ ♥ ♥ Ere I go hence.

Ere I go hence and leave this upper light,
Ere I go hence into the deathless sleep
That lies beyond the land, where cold and deep,
The stream of Lethe flows thro’ endless night,
Let me once more, my sweet child love, behold
Thy pure grey eyes, thy tresses of bright gold–
♥ ♥ ♥ Ere I go hence.

Ere I go hence and cast away all pain,
Ere I go hence and falter and forget
The fever and the madness and regret
That make all life, all love so passing vain–
O my heart’s darling, let me hear once more
The music of thy step upon the floor,
♥ ♥ ♥ Ere I go hence.

Source: from Poésie Schublade, in Ernest Dowson Collected Poems, Robert Kelsey Rought Thornton and Caroline Dowson (editors), Birmingham University Press, 2003.

Gallery

Minnie Terry, Victorian child pin-up

Photographs of the child actress Minnie Terry (1882 – 1964) taken around 1888-89. Source: National Portrait Gallery and Victoria & Albert Museum collection. Some of these pictures and a few others were also published here.

Ernest Dowson: Rondel

Lilla Cabot Perry - Cherry Blossoms - from iamachild.wordpress.com

Lilla Cabot Perry – Cherry Blossoms – from iamachild.wordpress.com

A charming poem about the love of a child.

RONDEL

Ah, dear child, in whose kiss
♦ ♦ ♦ Is healing of my pain,
Since life has given me this,
♦ ♦ ♦ I will no more complain.
My heart to life, ywis,
♦ ♦ ♦ Thy clinging hands enchain,
Ah, dear child in whose kiss,
♦ ♦ ♦ Is healing of my pain.
Love me—I shall not miss
♦ ♦ ♦ Old loves that did but stain,
Thy blue eyes teach me bliss,—
♦ ♦ ♦ I am not all in vain,
Ah, dear child, in whose kiss
♦ ♦ ♦ Is healing of my pain.

Source: from Poésie Schublade, in Ernest Dowson Collected Poems, Robert Kelsey Rought Thornton and Caroline Dowson (editors), Birmingham University Press, 2003.

Ernest Dowson: A Mosaic

Odysseas Oikonomou - title unknown - from iamachild.wordpress.com

Odysseas Oikonomou – title unknown – from iamachild.wordpress.com

Ernest Dowson (1867-1900) spent some of his childhood in Italy. This beautiful nostalgic poem evokes the love of a child, with the transient character of childhood itself.

A MOSAIC

Dreams, dreams of a day gone by!
    (Blue skies and the sunny south)
A fair small face and a rosebud mouth,
    (O Love, my Love and Italy!)
As the moist fresh rain in a time of drouth,
    She came, my Love, as a child to me.

Grey olives and sparkling sea
    Shine bright through the clear calm air—
Of gleaming gold is her waving hair—
    (O Love, my Love and Italy!)
When the world was young and the earth was fair,
    She came, my Love, as a child to me.

Dreams, dreams of a day gone by!
    (Grey eyes and a sunny smile.)
Pure and a maiden and free from guile,
    (O Love, my Love and Italy!)
In a dream she came and a little while
    Tarried and went as a child from me.

White horses out on the sea,
    Mist on the hills and a drizzling rain,
The wind wails loud like a soul in pain:—
    (O Love, my Love and Italy!)
I called her long yet I call in vain,
    Who came and went as a child from me.

Source: from Poésie Schublade, in Ernest Dowson Collected Poems, Robert Kelsey Rought Thornton and Caroline Dowson (editors), Birmingham University Press, 2003.