Tag Archives: lord alfred douglas

Lord Alfred Douglas: Sonnets to Olive (1907)

To Olive

i
When in dim dreams I trace the tangled maze
Of the old years that held and fashioned me,
And to the sad assize of Memory
From the wan roads and misty time-trod ways,
The timid ghosts of dead forgotten days
Gather to hold their piteous colloquy,
Chiefly my soul bemoans the lack of thee
And those lost seasons empty of thy praise.

Yet surely thou wast there when life was sweet,
(We walked knee-deep in flowers) and thou wast there,
When in dismay and sorrow and unrest,
With weak bruised hands and wounded bleeding feet,
I fought with beasts and wrestled with despair
And slept (how else ?) upon thine unseen breast.

ii

I have been profligate of happiness
And reckless of the world’s hostility,
The blessed part has not been given to me
Gladly to suffer fools, I do confess
I have enticed and merited distress,
By this, that I have never bowed the knee
Before the shrine of wise Hypocrisy,
Nor worn self-righteous anger like a dress.

Yet write you this, sweet one, when I am dead :
“ Love like a lamp swayed over all his days
And all his life was like a lamp- lit chamber,
Where is no nook, no chink unvisited
By the soft affluence of golden rays,
And all the room is bathed in liquid amber.”

iii

Long, long ago you lived in Italy,
You were a little princess in a state
Where all things sweet and strange did congregate,
And in your eyes was hope or memory
Or wistful prophecy of things to be ;
You gave a child’s blank “ no ” to proffered fate,
Then became grave, and died immaculate,
Leaving torn hearts and broken minstrelsy.

But Love that weaves the years on Time’s slow loom
Found you again, reborn, fashioned and grown
To your old likeness in these harsher lands;
And when life’s day was shadowed in deep gloom
You found me wandering, heart-sick and alone,
And ran to me and gave me both your hands.

iv

My thoughts like bees explore all sweetest things
To fill for you the honeycomb of praise,
Linger in roses and white jasmine sprays,
And marigolds that stand in yellow rings.
In the blue air they moan on muted strings,
And the blue sky of my soul’s summer days
Shines with your light, and through pale violet ways,
Birds bear your name in beatings of their wings.

I see you all bedecked in bows of rain,
New showers of rain against new-risen suns,
New tears against new light of shining joy.
My youth, equipped to go, turns back again,
Throws down its heavy pack of years and runs
Back to the golden house a golden boy.

v

When we were Pleasure’s minions, you and I,
When we mocked grief and held disaster cheap,
And shepherded all joys like willing sheep
That love their shepherd ; when a passing sigh
Was all the cloud that flecked our April sky,
I floated on an unimagined deep,
I loved you as a tired child loves sleep,
I lived and laughed and loved, and knew not why.

Now I have known the uttermost rose of love ;
The years are very long, but love is longer ;
I love you so, I have no time to hate
Even those wolves without. The great winds move
All their dark batteries to our fragile gate :
The world is very strong, but love is stronger.

vi

When I am dead you shall not doubt or fear,
Or wander nightly in the halls of gloom.
The moon will shine into my empty room,
And in the narrow garden flowers will peer,
While you look through your window. Scarce a tear
Will drench your child’s blue eyes, while on my tomb,
Where the red roses wake and break and bloom,
The stars gaze down eternal and austere.

And I, in the dark ante-room of Death,
Will wait for you with ever-outstretched hands
And ears strained for your little timid feet ;
And in the listening darkness, when your breath
Pants in distress, my arms will be like bands
And all my weakness like your winding-sheet.

1907.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Sonnet to Olive

My thoughts like bees explore all sweetest things
To fill for you the honeycomb of praise,
Linger in roses and white jasmine sprays,
And marigolds that stand in yellow rings.
In the blue air they moan on muted strings,
And the blue sky of my soul’s summer days
Shines with your light, and through pale violet ways.
Birds bear your name in beatings of their wings.

I see you all bedecked in bows of rain,
New showers of rain against new-risen suns,
New tears against new light of shining joy.
My youth, equipped to go, turns back again,
Throws down its heavy pack of years and runs
Back to the golden house a golden boy.

—  ’To Olive’ (IV) by Lord Alfred Douglas, 1907

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Statues

I HAVE loved statues . . . spangled dawns have seen
Me bowed before their beauty . . . when the green
And silver world of Spring wears radiantly
The morning rainbows of an opal sky . .
And I have chanted curious madrigals
To charm their coldness, twined for coronals
Blossoming branches, thinking thus to change
Their still contempt for mortal love, their bright
Proud scorn to something delicate and strange,
More sweet, more marvellous, than mere delight !

I have loved statues—passionately prone
My body worshipped the white form of stone!!
And like a flower that lifts its chalice up
Towards the light—my soul became a cup
That over-brimming with enchanted wine
Of ecstasy—was raised to the divine
Indifferent lips of some young silent God
Standing aloof from all our tears and strife,
Tranced in the paradise of dreams, he trod
In the untroubled summer of his life

I have loved statues . . . and at night the cold
Mysterious moon behind a mask of gold—
Or veiled in silver veils—has seen my pride
Utterly broken—seen the dream denied
For which I pleaded—heedless that for me
The miracle of joy could never be . . .
As in old legends beautiful and strange,
When bright gods loved fair mortals born to die,
And the frail daughters of despair and change
Became the brides of immortality ?

From The Blue Bird (1905)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The White Witch (1902)

Her body is a dancing joy, a delicate delight,
Her hair a silver glamour in a net of golden light.

Her face is like the faces that a dreamer sometimes meets,
A face that Leonardo would have followed in the streets.

Her eyelids are like clouds that spread white wings across blue skies,
Like shadows in still water are the sorrow in her eyes.

How flower-like are the smiling lips so many have desired,
Curled lips that love’s long kisses have left a little tired.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Olive Custance (Lady Alfred Douglas) back in print

The Inn of Dreams: Poems by Olive Custance

Edited, with a substantial biographical introduction by Edwin James King

List Price: $6.30
6.14″ x 9.21″ (15.596 x 23.393 cm)
Black & White on White paper
116 pages
Saint Austin Press
ISBN-13: 978-1901157697
ISBN-10: 1901157695
BISAC: Poetry / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh

Olive Custance was the beautiful wife of Lord Alfred Douglas, the disgraced lover of Oscar Wilde. Apart from that, the literary world knows little of her today. Her reputation lies very much in the shadow of the men who knew and loved her. And yet this woman was a gifted poet in her own right and a friend of many key figures of the ‘fin de siècle’.

In this edition of The Inn of Dreams, a selection of poems made by Custance herself in 1911, editor Edwin King casts new light on the woman and her work with a substantial biographical introduction.

It is about time for lovers of poetry for rediscover this charming girl who once wrote to her husband :”Like a shy child I bring you all my songs”.

Available soon via http://www.Amazon.com,  www.amazon.co.uk etc

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized