Lord Alfred Douglas — Palmistry

PalmistryAlfred Douglas, chalk and pastel drawing, 1893, by William Rothenstein (1872-1945)

I saw in dreams a bed within a chamber
Whereon the moon had cast a curious ray,
And one that slept whose hair was like fine amber
With head down drooped like flower at close of day.
And as he slept I scarcely heard his sighing,
And in the moon the motes moved with his breath
Scarcely at all, like weary white moths flying
On soft vague wings towards desired death.
One tired hand lay on the coverlet,
Whereon, as from a mountain seen, were lines
(Like to the little streams in meadows set)
Which God has made for everlasting signs
Of the eternal roads of Life and Death,
Of Joy and Woe and Danger and Desire,
Of Love that goeth out or tarrieth,
Of Hate and Hope, and Sin that burns like fire.
And lo! from out the hemispheres of night,
With veilèd face, on swift and soundless feet,
That came which is the Mysteries’ acolyte
And sits beside the undesired seat
Of Fatal things, which marked his hand and went
As it had come, an undiscernèd road.
Then on his palm my eager eyes intent
Espied a cross, O lamentable load!
Laid on his hand that slept. The sleeper stirred
And softly moaned; and, prisoned in a mesh,
Methought I saw his soul, a frightened bird,
Behind the eternal barriers of flesh.
At length his body quickened with slow sighs
And broke the bondage of his sleeping-place.
He turned his head and opened wide his eyes,
And looked at me — and lo! ’twas mine own face.

[datering, zie **]


[**] Het gedicht Palmistry is opgenomen in de bundel Nine Poems (1926), en voordien in The Academy van 25 May 1907. Bosie heeft, zo schrijft Caspar Wintermans in zijn boek, het gedicht gedateerd 1906, maar het feit dat er een typoscript in de West Sussex Record Office bestaat, maakt het volgens hem waarschijnlijker dat het omstreeks 1898 is ontstaan.

Gedicht en toelichtend commentaar zijn overgenomen uit:
Caspar Wintermans: Alfred Douglas — A Poet’s Life and His Finest Work. Peter Owen, London and Chester Springs PA, USA; ISBN 0 7206 1270 5.

Zie tevens onze bijdrage van zaterdag 31 maart en ook de bijdrage van maandag 2 april, en eveneens het gedicht van Alfred Douglas dat we op woensdag 4 april in deze krant hebben opgenomen, alle drie uit deze zelfde verzameling, uit hetzelfde boek van Caspar Wintermans.


Alfred Douglas, chalk and pastel drawing, 1893, by William Rothenstein (1872-1945).

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