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THE LIBRARY
OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



////'>



y'



THE CITY OF THE SOUL



SONNETS BY
LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS

Author of "The City of the Soul." Fcap. 8vo.
Printed by the Arden Press on hand-made
paper, 2S. 6d. net. Second Edition.

The DAILY TELEGRAPH says:

" The ''Sonnets' . . . combine at once i-idmess
and sittiplicity, both in the similes iised and in
the diction; luhile Jiiost are marked by t/uii
apparent ease ivhich is no small part of the
sonnet-writer s art."

The SPECTA TOR says:

' ' There is no crjideness in the slenaer volume
of sonnets which Lord Alfred Douglas has pub-
lished. He does not make the mistake of over-
loading his sonnets with thought , atid giving
them a burden which bows them. There is
nothing tortuous or crabbed or obscure in theju,
nor do they sin in the othtr extreme and fall
into mellifluous banality. Ahnost all equally
deserve quotation."

The SA TURD A Y REVIEW says :

" The ' Sonnets ' of Lord Alfred Douglas need
little by way of oppreciatio7i, and less by way of
criticism. There is no man living able to pro-
duce a book of sonnets quite so flawless in their
grace and music."






THE

CITY OF THE SOUL



BY



LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS



LONDON : JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD
NEW YORK : JOHN LANE COMPANY : MCMXI



First Edition printed May 1899

Second Edition printed December 1899

Third Edition printed March 1911



TOKNBntL AND SPEAiSS, FitlNIEKS. EDlNBlntGH






PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION

This volume of poetry has been out of print
since the middle of the year 1900, and the
present edition has been issued in response to
a steady demand, from both public and private
sources, extending over the intervening years.
My first impulse would have driven me to
make large revisions in the text and to cut
out altogether several pieces, but on further
consideration I have decided to leave the text
practically unaltered and to cut out nothing.
These poems are the poems of extreme and
comparative yout|;i, and the interest they possess
would, I believe, be impaired by revisions which



786744



VI PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION

a more matured technical knowledge and a
great alteration in point of view would dictate.
Chronologically the order of the poems, left
exactly as in the former editions, should be,
roughly speaking, reversed. That is to say, the
first fifteen poems down to Le Balcon (page 53)
were written at a considerably later period of
time than the remainder, some of which were
written while I was still an undergraduate at
Oxford.

Poetry is the expression of that which
cannot be said in prose. The only excuse
for writing poetry is that one has something
to say which cannot possibly be said in
prose. To write or attempt to write poetry
for any other reason is to sin against the high
muses. A rigid application of this touchstone



PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION vn

to the mass of contemporary poetry would
have the result of wiping out at least ninety
per cent, of it from the necessity of con-
sideration, which would be a very good thing
indeed. I am quite prepared to accept the
consequences of its application to my own
poetry, and to admit that some of the pieces in
the latter part of this volume would not survive
it. That is not to say that even the first
fifteen poems in the book, and the survivors
from the remainder, may not contain certain
blemishes. But it is no part of my duty
to point them out ; and having abandoned the
idea of revision and excision I must leave the
whole book to stand or fall, that is, live
or die, on its merits. I am under no tempta-
tion to make any effort to disarm criticism



vm PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION

This book was originally published anony-
mously, and it was received by the critics
in a way which at the time pleased me
and astonished me, and if I add a few
remarks upon certain aspects of my own
work, and poetry generally, I beg that it
may not be counted to me either for egotism
or for protest against anticipated judgments.
Merely as a matter of fact I wish to say
that all the good poetry in this book was
written in absolute sincerity, and in response
to an intolerable craving to give expression
to certain feelings and emotions which could
not be expressed in prose. I have never
in my life deliberately sat down to try to
epater the multitude either by shocking them
or by pandering to their taste. Again, in



PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION ix

writing poetry I have never attempted to
perform what certain persons would have
one believe to be the essential task of a
" great " poet as opposed to a " minor " poet,
namely, to " strike a new note." I do not
believe that any real poet since the days
of the Elizabethans has tried to do it.
Why should he ? What the poet wishes
to do is to go on writing poetry where the
last poet left off. He wishes to strike
beautiful notes, not new notes. He can
well afford to leave the new note-striking
business to Mr Bernard Shaw. Need-
less to say I am not trying to praise or
defend plagiarism. What I mean is that
the medium of poetry remains eternally
the same once a language has arrived at



X PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION

its highest point. It is impossible to im-
prove on the language of Shakespeare and
the other Elizabethan poets, nor is it at all
necessary even to vary their subject-matter.
Just as all the plays that have ever been
written are different variations of some dozen
well-defined and easily recognised plots, so
all poetry is eternally occupied with varia-
tions on the same themes of Love, Joy,
Sorrow, Desire, Regret, Remorse and the
rest. People who try to strike a new
note in poetry invariably strike the wrong
note. The same holds good in music and
painting, but I have no space to elaborate
my theory — surely a very obvious one — in
this preface, and must simply crystallise it
by saying that to ask or expect a poet to



PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION xi

strike a new note in poetry is exactly like
asking or expecting the Nightingale to strike
a new note in her perennial song. In conclu-
sion I should like to say that, although I
did not know it and would not have believed
it when I wrote these poems, it is my firm
conviction that all good art is necessarily on
the side of the angels, and that the true
poet, whether he knows it or not at the time
he is writing, is always on the side of the



angels.



ALFRED BRUCE DOUGLAS.



PROEM FOR THE THIRD
EDITION

How have we fared my soul across the days,
Through what green valleys, confident and fleet,
Along what paths of flint with how tired feet ?
Anon we knew the terror that dismays
At noonday ; and when night made dark the ways
We bought delight and found remembrance sweet.
Though in our ears we heard the wide wings beat
Ever we kept dumb mouths to prayer and praise.

Yet never lost or spurned or cast aside,
And never sundered from the love of God,
Through how-so wayward intricate deceits
Lured by what shining toy5 our charmed feet trod,
On the swift winds we saw bright angels ride.
And strayed into the moon-made silver streets.

xiii



CONTENTS



THE CITY OF THE SOUL

I. IN THE SALT TERROR OF A STORMY SEA . . 3

II. WHAT SHALL WE DO, MY SOUL, TO PLEASE

THE KING 5

III. THE FIELDS OF PHANTASY ARE ALL TOO WIDE 7

IV. EACH NEW hour's PASSAGE IS THE ACOLYTE . 9

THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS II

THE TRAVELLING COMPANION 21

A TRIAD OF THE MOON 23

SONNET ON THE SONNET 29

THE LEGEND OF SPINELLO OF AREZZO . . -31

SPRING 34

ENNUI 37

SUMMER 40

AUTUMN . . . 46

HARMONIE DU SOIR 49

LE BALCON 5I

XV



xvi CONTENTS

PAGE

PERKIN WARBECK 54

THE GARDEN OF DEATH 68

THE SPHINX 71

TO SHAKESPEARE 73

A SUMMER STORM 75

AMORIS VINCULA 77

IN SARUM CLOSE 79

IMPRESSION DE NUIT 81

A SONG 83

TO L 85

IN WINTER 87

PLAINTE ETERNELLE 89

IN SUMMER 92

NIGHT COMING INTO A GARDEN 95

NIGHT GOING OUT OF A GARDEN .... 97

JONQUIL AND FLEUR-DE-LYS 99

A WINTER SUNSET Ill

APOLOGIA 113

IN MEMORIAM : FRANCIS ARCHIBALD DOUGLAS,

VISCOUNT DRUMLANRIG II5

A PRAYER 117

AUTUMN DAYS Ijg



CONTENTS xvii

PAGE

THE IMAGE OF DEATH 121

TO SLEEP 123

V^ VICTIS 125

REJECTED 128

ODE TO MY SOUL I32



THE CITY OF THE SOUL



THE CITY OF THE SOUL

I

In the salt terror of a stormy sea

There are high attitudes the mind forgets ;

And undesired days are hunting nets

To snare the souls that fly Eternity.

But we being gods will never bend the knee,

Though sad moons shadow every sun that sets,

And tears of sorrow be like rivulets

To feed the shallows of Humility.

Within my soul are some mean gardens found
Where drooped flowers are, and unsung

melodies,
And all companioning of piteous things.

3



4 THE CITY OF THE SOUL

But in the midst is one high terraced ground,
Where level lawns sweep through the stately

trees
And the great peacocks walk like painted

kings.



THE CITY OF THE SOUL



II

What shall we do, my soul, to please the

King ?
Seeing he hath no pleasure in the dance,
And hath condemned the honeyed utterance
Of silver flutes and mouths made round to



sing.



Along the wall red roses climb and cling,
And oh ! my prince, lift up thy countenance,
For there be thoughts like roses that entrance
More than the languors of soft lute-playing.

Think how the hidden things that poets see

In amber eves or mornings crystalline.

Hide in the soul their constant quenchless light,



6 THE CITY OF THE SOUL

Till, called by some celestial alchemy,

Out of forgotten depths, they rise and shine

Like buried treasure on Midsummer night.



THE CITY OF THE SOUL



III

The fields of Phantasy are all too wide,

My soul runs through them like an untamed

thing.
It leaps the brooks like threads, and skirts the



nng



Where fairies danced, and tenderer flowers hide.
The voice of music has become the bride
Of an imprisoned bird with broken wing.
What shall we do, my soul, to please the

King,
We that are free, with ample wings untied ?

We cannot wander through the empty fields
Till beauty like a hunter hurl the lance.



8 THE CITY OF THE SOUL

There are no silver snares and springes set,
Nor any meadow where the plain ground yields.
O let us then with ordered utterance,
Forge the gold chain and twine the silken net.



THE CITY OF THE SOUL



IV

Each new hour's passage is the acolyte

Of inarticulate song and syllable,

And every passing moment is a bell,

To mourn the death of undiscerned delight.

Where is the sun that made the noon-day

bright,
And where the midnight moon ? O let us tell,
In long carved line and painted parable.
How the white road curves down into the

night.

Only to build one crystal barrier

Against this sea which beats upon our days ;

To ransom one lost moment with a rhyme !



lo THE CITY OF THE SOUL

Or if fate cries and grudging gods demur,

To clutch Life's hair, and thrust one naked

phrase
Like a lean knife between the ribs of Time.



THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS

Vitus came tripping over the grass
When all the leaves in the trees were green,
Through the green meadows he did pass
On the day he was full seventeen.

The lark was singing up over his head,
As he went by so lithe and fleet,
And the flowers danced in white and red
At the treading of his nimble feet.

His neck was as brown as the brown earth is

When first the young brown plough-boys

delve it,

II



12 THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS

And his lips were as red as mulberries
And his eyes were like the soft black velvet.

His silk brown hair was touched with bronze,
And his brown cheeks had the tender hue
That like a dress the brown earth dons
When the pink carnations bloom anew.

He was slim as the reeds that sway all along
The banks of the lake, and as straight as a

rush,
And as he passed he sang a song,
And his voice was as sweet as the voice of a

thrush.

He sang of the Gardens of Paradise,

And the light of God that never grows dim.



THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS 13

And the Cherubim with their radiant eyes,
And the rainbow wings of the Seraphim.

And the host as countless as all days,
That worships there, and ceases not.
Singing and praising God always,
With lute and flute and angelot.

And the blessed light of Mary's face
As she sits among these pleasant sounds,
And Christ that is the Prince of Grace,
And the five red flowers that be His wounds.

And so he went till he came to the doors
Of the ivory house of his father the King,
And all through the golden corridors.
As he passed along, he ceased to sing.



14 THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS

But a pagan priest had seen him pass,
And heard his voice as he went along
Through the fields of the bending grass,
And he heard the words of the holy
song.

And he sought the King where he sat on his

throne,
And the tears of wrath were in his eyes,
And he said, " O Sire, be it known
That thy son singeth in this wise :

" Of the blessed light of Mary's face

As she sits amidst sweet pleasant sounds,

And how that Christ is the Prince of

Grace,
And hath five flowers that be His wounds."



THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS 15

And when the King had heard this thing,
His brow grew black as a winter night,
And he bade the pages seek and bring
Straightway the prince before his sight.

And Vitus came before the King,
And the King cried out, " I pray thee. Son,
Sing now the song that thou didst sing
When thou cam'st through the fields anon."

And the face of the prince grew white as milk.
And he answered nought, but under the band
That held his doublet of purple silk
Round his slight waist, he thrust his hand.

And the King picked up a spear, and cried,
" What hast thou there ? by the waters of Styx,



l6 THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS

Spea-k or I strike, and the boy replied,
" Sweet Sire, it is a crucifix."

And the King grew black with rage and grief,
And for full a moment he spake no word.
And the spear in his right hand shook like a leaf,
And the vein on his brow was a tight blue cord.

Then he laughed and said, in bitter scorn,
" Take me this Christian fool from my sight,
Lock him in the turret till the morn,
And let him dance alone to-night.

" He shall sit in the dark while the courtly ball
All the gay night sweeps up and down
On the polished floor of the golden hall,
And thus shall he win his martyr's crown."



THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS 17

Thus spake the King, and the courtiers

smiled,
And Vitus hung his head for shame ;
And he thought, " I am punished like a

child,
That would have died for Christ's dear Name."

And so 'twas done, and on that night,
While silk and sword, with fan and flower,
Danced in the hall in the golden light,
Prince Vitus sat in the lone dark tower.

But the King bethought him, and was moved.

Ere the short summer night was done.

And his heart's blood yearned for the son he

loved.
His dainty prince, his only son.

B



l8 THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS

And all alone he climbed the stair,

With the tired feet of a sceptred King,

And came to the door, and lo ! he was

'ware
Of the sound of flute and lute-playing.

And as the King stood there amazed,

The iron door flew open wide,

And the King fell down on his knees as he

gazed
At the wondrous thing he saw inside.

For the room was filled with a soft sweet

light
Of ambergris and apricot,
And round the walls were angels bright,
With lute and flute and angelot.



THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS 19

On lute and angelot they played,
With their gold heads bowed upon the strings,
And the soft wind that the slim flutes made,
Stirred in the feathers of their wings.

And in the midst serene and sweet
With God's light on his countenance
Was Vitus, with his gold shod feet,
Dancing in a courtly dance.

And round him were archangels four,
Michael, who guards God's citadel,
Raphael, whom children still implore,
And Gabriel and Uriel.

Thus long ago was Christ's behest.

And the saving grace that His red wounds be,



20 THE BALLAD OF SAINT VITUS

Unto this king made manifest,
And all his land of Sicily.

God sits within the highest Heaven,
His mercy neither tires nor faints,
All good gifts that may be given.
He gives unto His holy Saints.

This was the joy that Vitus gat ;
To dance with Angels knee by knee.
Before he came to man's estate :
God send us all such Company.

Amen.



THE TRAVELLING COMPANION

Into the silence of the empty night

I went, and tooi< my scorned heart with

me
And all the thousand eyes of heaven were

bright ;
But Sorrow came and led me back to

thee.

I turned my weary eyes towards the sun,
Out of the leaden East like smoke came he.
I laughed and said, " The night is past and

done " ;
But Sorrow came and led me back to thee.

21



22 THE TRAVELLING COMPANION

I turned my face towards the rising moon,
Out of the south she came most sweet to see,
She smiled upon my eyes that loathed the

noon ;
But Sorrow came and led me back to thee.

I bent my eyes upon the summer land,
And all the painted fields were ripe for me,
And every flower nodded to my hand ;
But Sorrow came and led me back to thee.

Love ! O Sorrow ! O desired Despair !

1 turn my feet towards the boundless sea,
Into the dark I go and heed not where,
So that I come again at last to thee.



A TRIAD OF THE MOON

I

Last night my window played with one moon-
beam,
And I lay watching till sleep came, and stole
Over my eyelids, and she brought a shoal
Of hurrying thoughts that were her troubled

team,
And in the weary ending of a dream
I found this word upon a candid scroll :
" The nightingale is like a poet's soul,
She finds fierce pain in miseries that seem."

Ah me, methought, that she should so devise !
To seek for pain and sing such doleful bars,

23



24 A TRIAD OF THE MOON

That the wood aches and simple flowers cry,
And sea-green tears drench mortal lovers'

eyes,
She that is made the lure of those young

stars
That hang like golden spiders in the sky.



A TRIAD OF THE MOON



25



II

That she should so devise, to find such lore
Of sighful song and piteous psalmody,
While Joy runs on through summer greenery.
And all Delight is like an open door.
Must then her liquid notes for evermore
Repeat the colour of sad things, and be
Distilled like cassia drops of agony,
From the slow anguish of a heart's bruised
core ?

Nay, she weeps not because she knows sad

songs.
But sings because she weeps ; for wilful food



26 A TRIAD OF THE MOON

Of her sad singing, she will still decoy
The sweetness that to happy things belongs.
All night with artful woe she holds the wood,
And all the summer day with natural joy.



A TRIAD OF THE MOON 27



III

My soul is like a silent nightingale
Devising sorrow in a summer night.
Closed eyes in blazing noon put out the light,
And Hell lies in the thickness of a veil.
In every voiceless moment sleeps a wail,
And all the lonely darknesses are bright,
And every dawning of the day is white
With shapes of sorrow fugitive and frail.

My soul is like a flower whose honey-bees
Are pains that sting and suck the sweets

untold,
My soul is like an instrument of strings ;



28 A TRIAD OF THE MOON

I must Stretch these to capture harmonies,
And to find songs like buried dust of

gold,
Delve with the nightingale for sorrowful

things.



SONNET ON THE SONNET

To see the moment holds a madrigal,
To find some cloistered place, some hermitage
For free devices, some deliberate cage
Wherein to keep wild thoughts like birds in

thrall ;
To eat sweet honey and to taste black

gall,
To fight with form, to wrestle and to rage,
Till at the last upon the conquered page
The shadows of created Beauty fall.

This is the sonnet, this is all delight
Of every flower that blows in every Spring,

29



30 SONNET ON THE SONNET

And all desire of every desert place ;
This is the joy that fills a cloudy night
When, bursting from her misty following,
A perfect moon wins to an empty space.



THE LEGEND OF SPINELLO OF
AREZZO

Spinello of Arezzo long ago,
A cunning painter, made a large design
To grace the choir of St Angelo.
Therein he pictured the exploits divine
Of the Archangel Michael, beautiful
Exceedingly, in wrath most terrible.
Until at last that holy place was full
Of warring angels ; and that one who fell
From the high places of the highest Heaven
Into the deep abyss of lowest Hell,
He pictured too, in mad disaster driven
Before the conquering hosts of Paradise.

31



32 THE LEGEND OF SPINELI.O OF AREZZO

And him the painter drew in uncouth shape,
A foul misshappen monster with fierce eyes,
Of hideous form, half demon and half ape.

And lo ! it fell out as he slept one night,
His soul, in the sad neutral land of dreams
That lies between the darkness and the light,
Was 'ware of one whose eyes were soft as

beams
Of summer moonlight, and withal as sad.
Dark was his colour, and as black his hair
As hyacinths by night, his sweet lips had
A curve as piteous as sweet lovers wear
When they have lost their loves ; so fair was he.
So melancholy, yet withal so proud,
He seemed a prince whose woes might move

a tree



THE LEGEND OF SPINELLO OF AREZZO ^^

To find a tearful voice and weep aloud.
He spoke, his voice was tunable and mellow,
But soft as are the western winds that stir
The summer leaves, and thus he said, " Spinello,
Why dost thou wrong me? I am Lucifer."



SPRING

Wake up again, sad heart, wake up again !
(I heard the birds this morning singing sweet.)
Wake up again ! The sky was crystal clear.
And washed quite clean with rain ;
And far below my heart stirred with the

year,
Stirred with the year and sighed. O pallid

feet
Move now at last, O heart that sleeps with
pain

Rise up and hear
The voices in the valleys, run to meet
The songs and shadows. O wake up again !

34



SPRING 35

Put out green leaves, dead tree, put out green

leaves !
(Last night the moon was soft and kissed the

air.)
Put out green leaves ! The moon was in the

skies,

All night she wakes and weaves.
The dew was on the grass like fairies' eyes,
Like fairies' eyes. O tree so black and bare,
Remember all the fruits the full gold sheaves ;

For nothing dies,
The songs that are, are silences that were,
Summer was Winter. O put out green leaves

Break through the earth, pale flower, break

through the earth !
(All day the lark has sung a madrigal.)



36 SPRING

Break through the earth that lies not lightly

yet

And waits thy patient birth,
Waits for the jonquil and the violet,
The violet. Full soon the heavy pall
Will be a bed, and in the noon of mirth

Some rivulet
Will bubble in my wilderness, some call
Will touch my silence. O break through the

earth.



ENNUI

Alas ! and oh that Spring should come

again
Upon the soft wings of desired days,
And bring with her no anodyne to pain,
And no discernment of untroubled ways.
There was a time when her yet distant feet,
Guessed by some prescience more than half

divine,
Gave to my listening ear such happy warning,

That fresh, serene, and sweet,
My thoughts soared up like larks into the

morning.
From the dew-sprinkled meadows crystalline.

37



38 ENNUI

Soared up into the heights celestial,
And saw the whole world like a ball of fire,
Fashioned to be a monster playing ball
For the enchantment of my young desire.
And yesterday they flew to this black cloud,
(Missing the way to those ethereal spheres.)
And saw the earth a vision of affright,

And men a sordid crowd.
And felt the fears and drank the bitter

tears,
And saw the empty houses of Delight.

The sun has sunk into a moonless sea,
And every road leads down from Heaven to

Hell,
The pearls are numbered on youth's rosary,
I have outlived the days desirable.



ENNUI 39

What is there left ? And how shall dead men

sing
Unto the loosened strings of Love and Hate,
Or take strong hands to Beauty's ravishment ?

Who shall devise this thing,
To give high utterance to Miscontent,
Or make Indifference articulate ?



WINE OF SUMMER

The sun holds all the earth and all the sky
From the gold throne of this midsummer

day.
In the soft air the shadow of a sigh
Breathes on the leaves and scarcely makes them

sway.
The wood lies silent in the shimmering heat,
Save where the insects make a lazy drone,
And ever and anon from some tree near,

A dove's enamoured moan,
Or distant rook's faint cawing harsh and

sweet.
Comes dimly floating to my listening ear.

40



WINE OF SUMMER 41

Right in the wood's deep heart I lay me down,
And look up at the sky between the leaves,
Through delicate lace I see her deep blue

gown.
Across a fern a scarlet spider weaves
From branch to branch a slender silver thread.


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