I cannot let October slip away without once again visiting the 1890s. I began the month with two twilight poems by Arthur Symons. The following poem is by Ernest Dowson. If Symons is the Nineties poet of twilight, then Dowson is the Nineties poet of dreams and mist. As one might expect, they are both quite at home when it comes to Doomed Love.
Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees,
That hardly sway before a breeze
As soft as summer: summer's loss
Seems little, dear! on days like these!
Let misty autumn be our part!
The twilight of the year is sweet:
Where shadow and the darkness meet
Our love, a twilight of the heart
Eludes a little time's deceit.
Are we not better and at home
In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
A little while, then, let us dream.
Beyond the pearled horizons lie
Winter and night: awaiting these
We garner this poor hour of ease,
Until love turn from us and die
Beneath the drear November trees.
Ernest Dowson, Verses (1896).
Pretty doleful stuff, isn't it? But the dolefulness is so well done that one is willing to surrender oneself to the mood. There is something endearing and alluring about it.
The third stanza is particularly fine, I think, with its "dreamful Autumn," as well as the lines "A little while and night shall come,/A little while, then, let us dream." Those two lines echo what is perhaps Dowson's best-known poem, which has appeared here before, but is always worth visiting again.
Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam
They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
Ernest Dowson, Ibid.