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  • They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
  • Love and desire and hate:
  • I think they have no portion in us after
  • We pass the gate.
  • They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
  • Out of a misty dream
  • Our path emerges for a while, then closes
  • Within a dream.

Ernest Dowson, who died at the age of 33 (1867–1900), was a late-Victorian British poet, novelist, and short-story writer associated with the Decadent Movement and the Rhymers’ Club. When he was 23, Dowson fell in love with the 11-year-old Adelaide “Missie” Foltinowicz, daughter of a Polish restaurant owner, who rejected him over the next several years despite his continuing infatuation with her. In 1894, Dowson’s father, who was in the advanced stages of tuberculosis, died of an overdose of chloral hydrate. His mother, who was also tubercular, hanged herself a year later. In 1900, a friend found Dowson almost penniless in a wine bar and took him back to the cottage where he was living. Six weeks later he died there of alcoholism. The title of Dowson’s poem comes from the final line of an ode by the Roman poet Horace. It means “the brevity of life forbids us from undertaking lengthy hopes.”

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