Alfred Bruce Douglas.

The collected poems of Lord Alfred Douglas online

. (page 2 of 4)
Online LibraryAlfred Bruce DouglasThe collected poems of Lord Alfred Douglas → online text (page 2 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Who is sore vexed that thou hast strayed

So far without a following."

Then unto them said Fleur-de-lys

" You do mistake, my lords, for know
That I am the son of the king, and this

Is sweet Jonquil, my playfellow."


Whereat one of these lords replied,
" Thou lying knave, I'll make thee rue

Such saucy words." But Jonquil cried,
" Nay, nay, my lord, 'tis even true."



Whereat these lords were sore distressed,
And one made answer bending knee,

" My lord the prince is pleased to jest."
But Jonquil answered, " Thou shalt see."


Sure never yet so strange a thing

As this before was seen,
That a shepherd was thought the son of a king,

And a prince a shepherd boy to have been.


" Now mark me well, my noble lord,
A shepherd's feet go bare and cold,

Therefore they are all green from the sward.
And the buttercup makes a stain of gold.

" That I am Jonquil thus shalt thou know,
And that this be very Fleur-de-lys

If his feet be like the driven snow.

And mine like the amber and verdigris."

He lifted up the shepherd's frock

That clothed the prince, and straight did show
That his naked feet all under his smock

Were whiter than the driven snow.



He doffed the shoes and the clothes of silk
That he had gotten from Fleur-de-lys,

And all the rest was as white as milk,

But his feet were like amber and verdigris.

With that they each took back his own,
And when this second change was done,

As a shepherd boy was Jonquil shown
And Fleur-de-lys the king's true son.


By this the sun was low in the heaven,
And Fleur-de-lys must ride away,

But ere he left, vdth kisses seven,
He vowed to come another day.

Hatch House, 1894.


A Prayer

Often the western wind has sung to me,
There have been voices in the streams and meres,
And pitiful trees have told me, God, of Thee :
And I heard not. Oh ! open Thou mine ears.

The reeds have whispered low as I passed by,
" Be strong, O friend, be strong, put off vain fears,
Vex not thy soul with doubts, God cannot lie " :
And I heard not. Oh ! open Thou mine ears.

There have been many stars to guide my feet,
Often the delicate moon, hearing my sighs.
Has rent the clouds and shown a silver street ;
And I saw not. Oh ! open Thou mine eyes.

Angels have beckoned me unceasingly.
And walked with me ; and from the sombre skies
Dear Christ Himself has stretched out hands to me ;
And I saw not. Oh ! open Thou mine eyes.

Clouds^ 1894.

In Memoriam
Francis Archibald Douglas

Viscount Drumlanrig

Killed by the Accidental Explosion oj his gun,

October i8, 1894 ,

Dear friend, dear brother, I have owed you this
Since many days, the tribute of a song.
Shall I cheat you who never did a wrong
To any man ? No, therefore though I miss
All art, all skill, in this short armistice
From my soul's war against the bitter throng
Of present woes, let these poor lines be strong
In love enough to bear a brother's kiss.

Dear saint, true knight, I cannot weep for you,
Nor if I could would I call back the breath
To your dear body ; God is very wise,
All that this year had in its womb He knew,
And, loving you, He sent His Son like Death,
To put His hand over your kind gray eyes.



The Image of Death

I carved an image coloured like the night,

Winged with huge wings, stern-browed and menacing,

With hair caught back, and diademed like a king.

The left hand held a sceptre, and the right

Grasped a sharp sword, the bitter marble lips

Were curled and proud ; the yellow topaz eyes

(Each eye a jewel) stared in fearful wise ;

The hard fierce limbs were bare, and from the hips

A scourge hung down. And on the pedestal

I wrote these words, " O all things that have breath

This is the image of the great god Death,

Pour ye the wine and bind the coronal !

Pipe unto him with pipes and flute with flutes.

Woo him with flowers and spices odorous,

Let singing boys v^th lips mellifluous

Make madrigals and lull his ear wath lutes.

Anon bring sighs and tears of harsh distress,

And weeping wounds ! so haply ye may move

A heart of stone, from breasts of hate suck love,

Or garner pity from the pitiless."


Vae Victis !

Here in this isle
The summer still lingers,
And Autumn's brown fingers

So busy the while

With the leaves in the north,

Are scarcely put forth
In this land where the sun still glows like an ember,

In mid-November. •

In England it's cold,
And the yellow and red
Of October have fled ;

And the sun is wet gold

Like an emperor weeping,
When Death goes a-reaping
All through his empire, merciless comer,

The dead things of summer.

The sky has cried so
That the earth is all sodden.
With dead leaves in-trodden.

And the trees to and fro


Wave their arms in the air
In despair, in despair :
They are thinking of all the hot days that are over,
And the cows in the clover.

Here the roses are out,
And the sun at high noon
Makes the birds faint and swoon.

But the cricket's about

With his song, and the hum

Of the bees as they come
To feast at the honey-board laden and groaning,

Makes musical droning.

But vainly, alas !
Do I hide in the south,
Kiss close with my mouth

Red flowers, green grass,

For Autumn has found me

And thrown her arms round me.

She has breathed on my lips and I wander apart,

Dead leaves in my heart. _

^ Capn, 1895.


The Garden oj Death

There is an isle in an unfurrowed sea

That I wot of, whereon the whole year round

The apple-blossoms and the rosebuds be

In early blooming ; and a many sound

Of ten-stringed lute, and most mellifluous breath

Of silver flute, and mellow half-heard horn,

Making unmeasured music. Thither Death

Coming like Love, takes all things in the morn

Of tenderest life, and being a delicate god,

In his own garden takes each delicate thing

Unstained, unmellowed, immature, untrod,

Tremulous betwixt the summer and the spring :

The rosebud ere it come to be a rose.

The blossom ere it win to be a fruit.

The virginal snowdrop, and the dove that knows

Only one dove for lover ; all the loot

Of young soft things, and all the harvesting

Of unripe flowers. Never comes the moon

To matron fulness, here no child-bearing

Vexes desire, and the sun knows no noon.

But all the happy dwellers of that place

Are reckless children, gotten on Delight

By Beauty that is thrall to Death ; no grace,


No natural sweet they lack, a chrysolite
Of perfect beauty each. No wisdom comes
To mar their early folly, no false laws
Man-made for man, no mouthing prudence numbs
Their green unthought, or gives their licence pause
Young animals, young flowers, they live and grow,
And die before their sweet emblossomed breath
Has learnt to sigh save like a lover's. Oh !
How sweet is Youth, how delicate is Death !


To Sleep

Ah, Sleep, to me thou com'st not in the guise
Of one who brings good gifts to weary men,
Balm for bruised hearts and fancies alien
To unkind truth, and drying for sad eyes.
I dread the summons to that fierce assize
Of all my foes and woes, that waits me when
Thou makest my soul the unwilling denizen
Of thy dim troubled house where unrest lies.

My soul is sick with dreaming, let it rest.

False Sleep, thou hast conspired with Wakefulness,

I will not praise thee, I too long beguiled

With idle tales. Where is thy soothing breast ?

Thy peace, thy poppies, thy forgetfulness ?

Where is thy lap for me so tired a child ?


Ode to My Soul

Rise up my soul !

Shake thyself from the dust.

Lift up thy head that wears an aureole,

Fulfil thy trust.

Out of the mire where they would trample thee

Make images of clay,

Whereon having breathed from thy divinity

Let them take mighty wings and soar away

Right up to God.
Out of thy broken past
Where impious feet have trod.
Build thee a golden house august and vast.
Whereto these worms of earth may some day crawl.
Let there be nothing small
Henceforth with thee ;
Take thou unbounded scorn of all their scorn,

Of high contempt : be thou no more forlorn
But proud in thy immortal loneliness,
And infinite distress :

And, being 'mid mortal things divinely born,
Rise up my soul !

Paris^ 1896.



Alas ! I have lost my God,

My beautiful God Apollo.
Wherever his footsteps trod

My feet were wont to follow.

But Oh ! it fell out one day

My soul was so heavy with weeping,

That I laid me down by the way ;
And he left me while I was sleeping.

And my soul awoke in the night.
And I bowed my ear for his fluting,

And I heard but the breath of the flight
Of wings and the night-birds hooting.

And night drank all her cup,

And I went to the shrine in the hollow,
And the voice of my cry went up :

"Apollo! Apollo! Apollo!"

But he never came to the gate,
And the sun was hid in a mist.

And there came one walking late,
And I knew it was Christ.


He took my soul and bound it

With cords of iron wire,
Seven times round He wound it \

With the cords of my desire.

The cords of my desire,

While my desire slept,
Were seven bands of wire

To bind my soul that wept.

And He hid my soul at last

In a place of stones and fears.
Where the hours like days went past

And the days went by like years.

And after many days

That which had slept awoke,
And desire burnt in a blaze,

And my soul went up in the smoke.

And we crept away from the place

And would not look behind.
And the angel that hides his face

Was crouched on the neck of the wind.

And I went to the shrine in the hollow

Where the lutes and the flutes were playing.

And cried : " I am come, Apollo,

Back to thy shrine, from my straying."


But he would have none of my soul

That was stained with blood and with tears,

That had lain in the earth like a mole,
In the place of great stones and fears.

And now I am lost in the mist

Of the things that can never be,
For I will have none of Christ

And Apollo will none of me.

Paris, 1896.


The Travelling Companion

Into the silence of the empty night
I went, and took 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.

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 turned my feet towards the boundless sea,
Into the dark I go and heed not where,

So that I come again at last to thee.


The Legend of Spinello of Arezzo

Spinello o£ 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,
And him the painter drew in uncouth shape,
A foul misshapen 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 hght,
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

To find a fearful 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."



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 !

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.)
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.



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.

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.

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.

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,
And hangs there shining in the white sunbeams,
A ruby tremulous on a streak of light.

And high above my head
One spray of honeysuckle sways and dreams,
With one wild honey-bee for acolyte.


My nest is all untrod and virginal,
And virginal the path that led me here,
For all along the grass grew straight and tall,
And live things rustled in the thicket near :
And briar rose stretched out to sweet briar rose
Wild slender arms, and barred the way to me
With many a flowering arch, rose-pink or white,

As bending carefully.
Leaving unbroken all their blossoming bows,
I passed along, a reverent neophyte.

The air is full of soft imaginings,

They float unseen beneath the hot sunbeams.

Like tired moths on heavy velvet wings.

They droop above my drowsy head like dreams.

The hum of bees, the murmuring of doves.

The soft faint whispering of unnumbered trees.

Mingle with unreal things, and low and deep

From visionary groves,
Imagined lutes make voiceless harmonies.
And false flutes sigh before the gates of sleep.

rare sweet hour ! O cup of golden wine !
The night of these my days is dull and dense,
And stars are few, be this the anodyne !

Of many woes the perfect recompense.

1 thought that I had lost for evermore


The sense of this ethereal drunkenness,
This fierce desire to live, to breathe, to be ;

But even now, no less
Than in the merry noon that danced before
My tedious night, I taste its ecstasy.

Taste, and remember all the summer days
That lie, like golden reflections in the lake
Of vanished years, unreal but sweet always ;
Soft luminous shadows that I may not take
Into my hands again, but still discern
Drifting like gilded ghosts before my eyes.
Beneath the waters of forgotten things.

Sweet with faint memories,
And mellow with old loves that used to burn
Dead summer days ago, like fierce red kings.

And this hour too must die, even now the sun

Droops to the sea, and with untroubled feet

The quiet evening comes : the day is done.

The air that throbbed beneath the passionate heat

Grows calm and cool and virginal again.

The colour fades and sinks to sombre tones,

As when in youthful cheeks a blush grows dim.

Hushed are the monotones
Of doves and bees, and the long flowery lane
Rustles beneath the wind in playful whim.


Gone are the passion and the pulse that beat
With fevered strokes, and gone the unseen things
That clothed the hour with shining raiment meet
To deck enchantments and imaginings.
No joy is here but only neutral peace
And loveless languor and indifference,
And faint remembrance of lost ecstasy.

The darkening shades increase.
My dreams go out like tapers — I must hence.
Far off I hear Night calling to the sea.


Ode to Autumn

Thou sombre lady of down-bended head,

And weary lashes drooping to the cheek,

With sweet sad fold of lips uncomforted.

And listless hands more tired with strife than meek ;

Turn here thy soft brown feet, and to my heart.

Unmatched to Summer's golden minstrelsy.

Or Spring's shrill pipe of joy, sing once again

Sad songs, and I to thee
Well tuned, will answer that according part
That jarred with those young seasons' gladder strain.

Give me thy empty branches for the biers
Of perished joys, thy winds to sigh my sighs,
Thy falling leaves to count my falling tears,
And all thy mists to dim my aching eyes.
There is no comfort in thy lips, and none
In thy cold arms, nor pity in thy breast.
But better 'tis in gray hours to have grief.

Than to affront the sun
With sunless woe, when every flower and leaf
Conspires to make the season merriest.


The drip of rain-drops on the sodden earth,

The trampled mud-stained grass, the shifting leaves,

The silent hurrying birds, the sickly birth

Of the red sun in misty skies, the sheaves

Of rotting ruined corn, the sudden gusts

Of angry winds, the clouds that fly all night

Before the stormy moon, thy desolate moans,

All thy decays and rusts.
Thy deaths and dirges, these are tuned aright
To my unquiet soul that sorrow owns.

But ah ! thy gentler mood, the honeyed kiss

Of thy faint watery sunshine, thy pale gold.

Thy dark red berries, and the ambergris

That paints the lingering leaves, while on the mould,

Their dead make bronze and sepia carpetings

That lightly rustle in thy quiet breath.

These are the shadows of departed smiles,

The ghosts of happy things ;
These break again the broken heart, the whiles
Thou goest on to winter, I to Death.


Iiarmo7tie du Soir

{From the French of Baudelaire)

Void venir le temfs.

Now is the hour when, swinging in the breeze,
Each flower, like a censer, sheds its sweet.
The air is full of scents and melodies,
O languorous waltz ! O swoon of dancing feet !

Each flower, like a censer, sheds its sweet,
The violins are hke sad souls that cry,
O languorous waltz ! O swoon of dancing feet !
A shrine of Death and Beauty is the sky.

The violins are like sad souls that cry.
Poor souls that hate the vast black night of Death ;
A shrine of Death and Beauty is the sky.
Drowned in red blood, the Sun gives up his breath.

This soul that hates the vast black night of Death
Takes all the luminous past back tenderly,
Drowned in red blood, the Sun gives up his breath.
Thine image like a monstrance shines in me.


Le Bale on

{From the French of Baudelaire)
Mere des souvenirs, mattresses des mattresses.

Mother of Memories ! O mistress-queen !
Oh ! all my joy and all my duty thou !
The beauty of caresses that have been,
The evenings and the hearth remember now,
Mother of Memories ! O mistress-queen !

The evenings burning with the glowing fire,
And on the balcony, the rose-stained nights !
How sweet, how kind you were, my soul's desire.
We said things wonderful as chrysolites.
When evening burned beside the glowing fire.

How fair the Sun is in the evening !

How strong the soul, how high the heaven's high tower !

O first and last of every worshipped thing,

Your odorous heart's-blood filled me like a flower.

How fair the sun is in the evening !

The night grew deep between us like a pall.
And in the dark I guessed your shining eyes,


And drank your breath, O sweet, O honey-gall !
Your little feet slept on me sister-wise.
The night grew deep between us like a pall.

I can call back the days desirable,
And live all bliss again between your knees,
For where else can I find that magic spell
Save in your heart and in your Mysteries ?
I can call back the days desirable.

These vows, these scents, these kisses infinite,
Will they like young suns climbing up the skies
Rise up from some unfathomable pit,
Washed in the sea from all impurities ?
O vows, O scents, O kisses infinite !

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,
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,
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.

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."

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."

2 4

Online LibraryAlfred Bruce DouglasThe collected poems of Lord Alfred Douglas → online text (page 2 of 4)