Awakening, on Dowson’s 150th birthday

Ernest Dowson as an undergraduate – from Wikipedia

Ernest Dowson, poet, novelist, short story writer and translator of French literature, was born on August 2, 1867, exactly 150 years ago. In his youth he worshipped the child actress Minnie Terry, then became the devoted lover of the young Adelaide Foltinowicz. CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

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Aside

Un double anniversaire

Sabine Sicaud à 12ans, lors de la remise des prix des Jeux Floraux de France - de sabinesicaud.com

Sabine Sicaud à 12ans, lors de la remise des prix des Jeux Floraux de France – de sabinesicaud.com

Ernest Dowson as an undergraduate - from Wikipedia

Ernest Dowson as an undergraduate – from Wikipedia

Le 23 février commémore deux grands poètes, deux existences aux vies trop courtes, minées par la maladie et assombries par la souffrance, mais aussi deux voix de la beauté, de la vérité et de l’amour.

Un jeune homme, une jeune fille, l’un anglais, l’autre française, une vie de bohème et une vie de famille, deux écritures différentes…

rose                 rose                 rose

Le 23 février 1900 mourait Ernest Dowson, âgé de 32 ans, le corps ravagé par la tuberculose, la misère et l’alcool, le cœur brisé d’avoir été rejeté par la fille qu’il aimait, Adelaide, qui avait inspiré ses plus beaux poèmes et à qui il avait dédié son premier recueil de vers.

“Ernest, were you ever in love?”
“Vous me demandez si j’ai aimé: oui! c’est une histoire singulière et terrible.”

rose                 rose                 rose

Le 23 février 1913 naquit Sabine Sicaud, qui mourut à 15 ans dans d’atroces souffrances, ayant contracté l’ostéomyélite suite à une infection de la jambe. Elle rêvait d’amour avec Vassili, un cavalier venu de Russie, compagnon imaginaire qui la suivit dans ses derniers poèmes.

La chaise vide… Ah comment feras-tu
pour supporter cela ?
Et moi qui pars, comment ferai-je
pour supporter le reste ?

rose                 rose                 rose

Plaque on Dowson's restored grave (from Dr Tony Shaw's blog)

Plaque on Dowson’s restored grave (from Dr Tony Shaw’s blog)

Aside

148 years ago

National Portrait Gallery - Herbert Rose Barraud (The Theatre) – Minnie Terry (1889)

National Portrait Gallery – Herbert Rose Barraud (The Theatre) – Minnie Terry (1889)

2 August 1867 marks the birthday of Ernest Dowson, poet, novelist, short-story writer, absinthe drinker, worshipper of Minnie Terry and devoted lover of Adelaide Foltinowicz.

The best tribute to Dowson’s poetry was given by Oscar Wilde in a letter written to him on 28 June 1897:

I write a little line … to tell you how charming you are … Tonight I am going to read your poems—your lovely lyrics—words with wings you write always. It is an exquisite gift, and fortunately rare in an age whose prose is more poetic than its poetry.

In a letter to Leonard Smithers sent from Paris just after hearing news of Dowson’s death on 23 February 1900, Wilde gave also the best tribute to him as a lover:

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.

Let us hear the message hidden in a draft of Dowson’s poem Wisdom :

Dream all thy dreams and dream them well, true

References:

The Letters of Ernest Dowson, Desmond Flower and Henry Maas (editors), Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1967, Introduction to Part V, pages 377 and 421.

Ernest Dowson Collected Poems, Robert Kelsey Rought Thornton and Caroline Dowson (editors), Birmingham University Press, 2003, page 261.

Ernest Dowson’s last text: The Princess of Dreams

Shwidkiy Andrey - The princess of dreams (2003) - from amsterdam-artgallery.com

Shwidkiy Andrey – The princess of dreams (2003) – from amsterdam-artgallery.com

Ernest Dowson’s collection of poems Decorations: in Verse and Prose, published in 1899, ends with 5 poems in prose. The first is The Fortunate Islands. Then three of them are included in a selection by The New Formalist: Markets (after an old Nursery Rhyme), Absinthia Taetra and The Visit; note that in the latter, the sentence “I have wanted you all my life” has been changed into “I have waited for you all my life.” CONTINUE READING…

R. Thurston Hopkins: A London phantom

London fog - from pinterest.com

London fog – from pinterest.com

As it describes Ernest Dowson’s look and behaviour, this strange text has been included in the edition by Flower & Maas of Dowson’s letters. The ghost-like appearance of a repulsive man who seems a living dead carrying mould from his own grave, but who also notices every movement of Dowson and Thurston, seems quite surrealistic. But it is also a dire testimony to the poverty and misery that existed in London at the end of the 19th century.

This text relating events at the end of the 1890’s is undated, but it mentions the 1932 film Cynara directed by King Vidor, it was thus written more than 30 years after the incident.  CONTINUE READING…

Ernest Dowson: The Fortunate Islands

Edward Matthew Hale - The Mermaid's Rock - from fineartamerica.com

Edward Matthew Hale – The Mermaid’s Rock – from fineartamerica.com

Dowson’s collection of poems Decorations (1899) contained verses, which were reproduced in The Poems and Prose of Ernest Dowson, With a Memoir by Arthur Symons (1905), see the Project Gutenberg Ebook, and in modern Internet collections such as The Poems of Ernest Dowson @ ELCore.Net. It is not well-known that the collection ended with five poems in prose. They seem to have been written in June 1899, while Dowson was giving the last touch to the publication; indeed he mentions them in two letters to his publisher Leonard Smithers dated that month (see The Letters of Ernest Dowson, no. 397 and 398, pages 414–415). These five short texts are full of sadness and pessimism. Indeed, Dowson was deeply disappointed with his family because of disputes over the inheritance from his deceased parents, his heart was broken as his beloved Adelaide had married another man, and he was sick with tuberculosis, which would kill him a few months later. CONTINUE READING…

Adelaide, the love in the life and poetry of Ernest Dowson, Part I

 Ernest Dowson by Charles Edward Conder, pencil (c. 1890s) - National Portrait Gallery

Ernest Dowson by Charles Edward Conder, pencil (c. 1890s) – National Portrait Gallery

In two previous articles, Ernest Dowson and the Cult of Minnie Terry (in Pigtails in Paint) and Ernest Dowson and the ages of woman (in this blog), I told that in his youth Ernest Dowson worshipped little girls, in particular the child actress Minnie Terry. But this infatuation remained somewhat on the surface, it did not really move his soul. Indeed, it vanished as soon as he met the true passion of his life, Adelaide Foltinowicz, a girl he nicknamed “Missie” or “Missy”. CONTINUE READING…

Who loves working class children?

One seldom finds persons who really love all children. Most people show themselves selective in their affection, while some don’t like children at all. Usually it is a family affair, one loves one’s own children, but not those of other people, and this attitude gets a wide support in society, since children are implicitly considered as their parents’ property.

Otherwise, one can have preferences for one age range or for one gender. I can understand this, I am myself guilty of such bias. Boys and girls, older and younger ones, have different minds and quite distinct charms. However I find it more questionable to distaste children because of their ethnicity or their lower social background. CONTINUE READING…