What a difference a couple of centuries makes! A Cavalier poet of the first half of the 17th century -- although living in tempestuous and dangerous times, and being well aware of the fragility of life -- would likely focus on the sunlight, imagining it dancing in gaiety beneath an interlaced green and blue firmament.
Here, for example, is Robert Herrick (1591-1674) in the opening poem of his Hesperides:
The Argument of His Book
I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds and bowers,
Of April, May, of June and July-flowers;
I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides and of their bridal cakes;
I write of youth, of love, and have access
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness;
I sing of dews, of rains, and piece by piece
Of balm, of oil, of spice and ambergris;
I sing of times trans-shifting, and I write
How roses first came red and lilies white;
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The Court of Mab, and of the Fairy King;
I write of hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of heaven, and hope to have it after all.
Robert Herrick, Hesperides (1648).
What a lovely list! And it is not all sweetness and light. Nor is the World, of course. But Herrick accepts -- and delights in -- whatever comes his way.
Rex Vicat Cole (1870-1940), "Cartmel Priory, Cumbria" (1935)
I am certainly not suggesting that Herrick is "right" and the Decadents are "wrong." The beauty of poetry lies in the uncountable and inexhaustible ways human beings attempt to make sense of the World through words arranged in a particular order.
Here is Herrick on death, a subject dear to the hearts of the Decadents.
After Autumn, Winter
Die ere long, I'm sure, I shall;
After leaves, the tree must fall.
Immediately following the above poem in Hesperides comes this:
A Good Death
For truth I may this sentence tell,
No man dies ill, that liveth well.
When it comes to death, are these two poems lovelier, or "truer," than "Out of a misty dream/Our path emerges for a while, then closes/Within a dream"? Who can say? It is not a competition. Some of us will opt for Herrick, some for Ernest Dowson. I opt for both.
Rex Vicat Cole, "The Mill" (1922)
Be you a Decadent, or be you a Cavalier, there's no quarrelling with this, either as Art or as Life:
The Coming of Good Luck
So good luck came, and on my roof did light,
Like noiseless snow, or as the dew of night:
Not all at once, but gently, as the trees
Are by the sunbeams tickled by degrees.
Robert Herrick, Ibid.
Rex Vicat Cole, "Kensington Gardens"