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This poem is taken from PN Review 195, Volume 37 Number 1, September - October 2010.

Literary Lives R.K.R. Thornton

Ernest Dowson

Of the ways of writing a poem, one way is
Where the sound’s what you fashion the sense with; another
Where you try for a mood, not seeking out harmonies.
And they don’t come together so often, these ways,
Except as how sometimes the sea’s crash is music;
Or the motion expressed in some music’s a mood.

That’s where Dowson comes in. That’s his mood;
And critics go jaunting along: ‘No variety;
He only says one thing: he’s in love and wants peace,
But she won’t; so he yearns, grows sad, world-weary.’
But they see the words circling and ignore their hearing.
Listen. Oh, but there’s music in Dowson.

Say what you will, there’s more than just Cynara
Stuck like a cherry on top of the Nineties,
More than just dabbling in Verlaine and Pater,
...


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