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Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine

There fell thy shadow, Cynara! Thy breath was shed

Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;

And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,

Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:

I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,

Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;

Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;

But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,

When I awoke and found the dawn was gray:

I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,

Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,

Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;

But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,

Yea, all the time, because the dance was long:

I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,

But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,

Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;

And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,

Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:

I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

Ernest Dowson, who died at the age of 33 (1867–1900), was a late-Victorian British poet associated with the Decadent movement and the Rhymers’ Club. The figure of the beloved woman whom the speaker cannot forget is almost certainly that of Adelaide “Missie” Foltinowicz, with whom Dowson fell in love when she was a girl of 11 or 12 and who eventually rejected him. The translation of the Latin title is: I am no longer the man I was during the reign of the Good Cynara. It is from the opening of Horace’s Odes, Book 4.1.

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