The Roses and the Lilies

GWTW

Happy Birthday Ernest Dowson, author of two of the most famous word constructions in all history:  Days of wine and roses, and Gone with the Wind.

Ernest shares his birthday with my oldest son, Jerry.  Poor Ernest did not last long.  Born in 1867 he was jilted by the love of his life.  His father died of an overdose, his mother hanged herself.  He died, an alcoholic, aged only 32.  In one sense he was very right when he said “They are not long the days of wine and roses”.  Roses for love, lilies for remembrance.  The latin title of the poem below is a reference to the Roman poet Horace.

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” Oscar Wilde

Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae: by Ernest Dowson

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
there fell thy shadow, Cynara! Thy breath was shed
upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
and I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,
night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;
surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
but I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
when I awoke and found the dawn was grey:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! Gone with the wind,
flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
but I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
yea, all the time, because the dance was long:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
but when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
then falls thy shadow, Cynara! The night is thine;
and I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

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