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Poem by Ernest Christopher Dowson

Quid Non Supremus, Amantes?

  Why is there in the least touch of her hands
    More grace than other women's lips bestow,
  If love is but a slave in fleshly bands
    Of flesh to flesh, wherever love may go?

  Why choose vain grief and heavy-hearted hours
    For her lost voice, and dear remembered hair,
  If love may cull his honey from all flowers,
    And girls grow thick as violets, everywhere?

  Nay! She is gone, and all things fall apart;
    Or she is cold, and vainly have we prayed;
  And broken is the summer's splendid heart,
    And hope within a deep, dark grave is laid.

  As man aspires and falls, yet a soul springs
    Out of his agony of flesh at last,
  So love that flesh enthralls, shall rise on wings
    Soul-centred, when the rule of flesh is past.

  Then, most High Love, or wreathed with myrtle sprays,
    Or crownless and forlorn, nor less a star,
  Thee may I serve and follow, all my days,
    Whose thorns are sweet as never roses are!

Ernest Christopher Dowson

Ernest Christopher Dowson's other poems:
  1. Vain Resolves
  2. Epigram
  3. Soli Cantare Periti Arcades
  4. Amor Umbratilis
  5. Villanelle of Marguerite's

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