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.

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