Here's a virtual of my good self Jim Clark (Looking somewhat queezy in my animated/reincarnated state ha ha) reciting this lovely poem by the decadent Victorian poet Ernest Dowson "Cynara" as I prefer to call this Oh So beautiful melancholic poem is more correctly known as "Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae" (1896); The title, is a quotation from Horace, means "I am not as I was under good Cynara's reign." Quintus Horatius Flaccus (8 December 65 BC -- 27 November 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus. The rhetorician Quintillian regarded his Odes as just about the only Latin lyrics worth reading: "He can be lofty sometimes, yet he is also full of charm and grace, versatile in his figures, and felicitously daring in his choice of words.

Ernest Christopher Dowson, born in Lee, London, was an English poet, novelist and writer of short stories, associated with the Decadent movement.

Biography

He received some of his education in France, and in 1866 entered Queen's College, Oxford. Having read considerably and widely, Dowson left without obtaining a degree. He went to London where he joined the literary circle of Aubrey Beardsley, Oscar Wilde, and their friends. He was also one of the Rhymers' Club and contributed to The Books of the Rhymers' Club (1892 and 1894), The Yellow Book and The Savoy. In 1891 he met 'Missie' Adelaide Foltinowicz, a twelve-year-old who later became a key image of innocence and lost love in his poetry.

In September 1891 he converted to Roman Catholicism, which is reflected in his devotional poetry, such as 'Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration' and 'Carthusians'. These were his most successful poems. His father died in 1894 having suffered from advanced tuberculosis. Within months of his death, Dowson's mother hanged herself. A number of stories called Dilemas appeared in 1895. After this, Dowson travelled between London, France and Ireland, drinking heavily. He published the first of his two books of poetry, Verses, in 1896, which included the acclaimed 'Non Sum Qualis Eram' or 'Cynara', and the second, Decorations in Verse and Prose in 1899. His one-act verse play, The Pierrot of the Minute came out in 1897. In addition, he translated Voltaire, Zola and Balzac. Amongst his verse which celebrates nature is 'Breton Afternoon', and the poems representing weariness and the monotony of life include 'Vitae Summa Brevis' and 'To One in Bedlam'.

Robert Sherard one day found Dowson almost penniless in a wine bar and took him back to the cottage in Catford where he was himself living. Dowson spent the last six weeks of his life at Sherard's cottage and died there of alcoholism at the age of 32. He is buried in the Roman Catholic section of nearby Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries.

Kind Regards

Jim Clark
All rights are reserved on this video recording copyright Jim Clark 2013

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