Rondeau, by Ernest Dowson

Saturno Buttò - Mixed technique on paper
Saturno Buttò – Mixed technique on paper cm. 58×39 – from saturnobutto.com

In Greek mythology, Maenads were the female followers of Dionysus, the god of winemaking and ecstasy. Dowson cultivated the ecstasy of alcohol, while his love life was split between a platonic devotion for little girls and purely sensual affairs with adult women, often prostitutes met in bars. In this poem, he contrasts the pleasures of wine and women with the virginal beauty of young girls. CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

Ernest Dowson’s last text: The Princess of Dreams

Hanna Pauli - The Princess
Hanna Pauli – The Princess – National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, from Tutt’Art

Ernest Dowson’s collection of poems Decorations: in Verse and Prose, published in 1899, ends with 5 poems in prose. The first is The Fortunate Islands. Then three of them are included in a selection by The New Formalist: Markets (after an old Nursery Rhyme), Absinthia Taetra and The Visit; note that in the latter, the sentence “I have wanted you all my life” has been changed into “I have waited for you all my life.” CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

Settela, the girl with the headscarf

Rudolf Breslauer - Settela Steinbach
Rudolf Breslauer – Settela Steinbach (1944) – from Romedia Foundation

The above picture shows a girl looking terrified as she is locked inside a goods wagon in a train bound for the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. She wears a headscarf made from a torn sheet, because the Nazis shaved her head under the pretext of preventing lice. It was taken from a film shot on May 19, 1944 in the Westerbork transit camp (The Netherlands) by a Jewish prisoner, Rudolf Werner Breslauer, on the orders of the commander of the camp, Albert Konrad Gemmeker. CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

The Fortunate Islands, by Ernest Dowson

Edward Matthew Hale - The Mermaid's Rock
Edward Matthew Hale – The Mermaid’s Rock – from fineartamerica.com

Dowson’s collection of poems Decorations (1899) contained verses, which were reproduced in The Poems and Prose of Ernest Dowson, With a Memoir by Arthur Symons (1905), available as Project Gutenberg Ebook, and in modern Internet collections such as The Poems of Ernest Dowsont on ELCore.Net, the website of E. L. Core. It is not well-known that the collection ended with five poems in prose. They seem to have been written in June 1899, while Dowson was giving the last touch to the publication; indeed he mentions them in two letters to his publisher Leonard Smithers dated that month (see The Letters of Ernest Dowson, no. 397 and 398, pages 414–415). These five short texts are full of sadness and pessimism. Indeed, Dowson was deeply disappointed with his family because of disputes over the inheritance from his deceased parents, his heart was broken as his beloved Adelaide had married another man, and he was sick with tuberculosis, which would kill him a few months later. CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

Maid of the Wilderness, by John Clare

František Kupka - Girl shading her eyes
František Kupka – Girl shading her eyes (c.1908) – J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

I give here yet another love poem from Asylum Poems, the fascinating collection of verses that John Clare composed when he was interned in an insane asylum because of his schizophrenic hallucinations. Contrasting with his numerous sentimental poems, this piece is sensuous and wild; behind poetic images—and a silence—hides the poet’s fullness of heat and passion. CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…