In Praise of Shame

- 1870-1945
Last night unto my bed bethought there came 
Our lady of strange dreams, and from an urn 
She poured live fire, so that mine eyes did burn 
At the sight of it.  Anon the floating fame 
Took many shapes, and one cried: "I am shame 
That walks with Love, I am most wise to turn 
Cold lips and limbs to fire; therefore discern 
And see my loveliness, and praise my name." 

And afterwords, in radiant garments dressed 
With sound of flutes and laughing of glad lips, 
A pomp of all the passions passed along 
All the night through; till the white phantom ships 
Of dawn sailed in. Whereat I said this song, 
"Of all sweet passions Shame is the loveliest."

More by Lord Alfred Douglas

Two Loves

I dreamed I stood upon a little hill, 
And at my feet there lay a ground, that seemed 
Like a waste garden, flowering at its will 
With buds and blossoms. There were pools that dreamed 
Black and unruffled; there were white lilies 
A few, and crocuses, and violets 
Purple or pale, snake-like fritillaries 
Scarce seen for the rank grass, and through green nets 
Blue eyes of shy peryenche winked in the sun. 
And there were curious flowers, before unknown, 
Flowers that were stained with moonlight, or with shades 
Of Nature's willful moods; and here a one 
That had drunk in the transitory tone 
Of one brief moment in a sunset; blades 
Of grass that in an hundred springs had been 
Slowly but exquisitely nurtured by the stars, 
And watered with the scented dew long cupped 
In lilies, that for rays of sun had seen 
Only God's glory, for never a sunrise mars 
The luminous air of Heaven. Beyond, abrupt, 
A grey stone wall. o'ergrown with velvet moss 
Uprose; and gazing I stood long, all mazed 
To see a place so strange, so sweet, so fair. 
And as I stood and marvelled, lo! across 
The garden came a youth; one hand he raised 
To shield him from the sun, his wind-tossed hair 
Was twined with flowers, and in his hand he bore 
A purple bunch of bursting grapes, his eyes 
Were clear as crystal, naked all was he, 
White as the snow on pathless mountains frore, 
Red were his lips as red wine-spilith that dyes 
A marble floor, his brow chalcedony. 
And he came near me, with his lips uncurled 
And kind, and caught my hand and kissed my mouth, 
And gave me grapes to eat, and said, 'Sweet friend, 
Come I will show thee shadows of the world 
And images of life. See from the South 
Comes the pale pageant that hath never an end.' 
And lo! within the garden of my dream 
I saw two walking on a shining plain 
Of golden light. The one did joyous seem 
And fair and blooming, and a sweet refrain 
Came from his lips; he sang of pretty maids 
And joyous love of comely girl and boy, 
His eyes were bright, and 'mid the dancing blades 
Of golden grass his feet did trip for joy; 
And in his hand he held an ivory lute 
With strings of gold that were as maidens' hair, 
And sang with voice as tuneful as a flute, 
And round his neck three chains of roses were. 
But he that was his comrade walked aside; 
He was full sad and sweet, and his large eyes 
Were strange with wondrous brightness, staring wide 
With gazing; and he sighed with many sighs 
That moved me, and his cheeks were wan and white 
Like pallid lilies, and his lips were red 
Like poppies, and his hands he clenched tight, 
And yet again unclenched, and his head 
Was wreathed with moon-flowers pale as lips of death. 
A purple robe he wore, o'erwrought in gold 
With the device of a great snake, whose breath 
Was fiery flame: which when I did behold 
I fell a-weeping, and I cried, 'Sweet youth, 
Tell me why, sad and sighing, thou dost rove 
These pleasent realms? I pray thee speak me sooth 
What is thy name?' He said, 'My name is Love.' 
Then straight the first did turn himself to me 
And cried, 'He lieth, for his name is Shame, 
But I am Love, and I was wont to be 
Alone in this fair garden, till he came 
Unasked by night; I am true Love, I fill 
The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.' 
Then sighing, said the other, 'Have thy will, 
I am the love that dare not speak its name.'

The Shark

A treacherous monster is the Shark 
He never makes the least remark.

And when he sees you on the sand, 
He doesn't seem to want to land.

He watches you take off your clothes, 
And not the least excitement shows.

His eyes do not grow bright or roll, 
He has astonishing self-control.

He waits till you are quite undressed, 
And seems to take no interest.

And when towards the sea you leap, 
He looks as if he were asleep.

But when you once get in his range, 
His whole demeanour seems to change.

He throws his body right about, 
And his true character comes out.

It's no use crying or appealing, 
He seems to lose all decent feeling.

After this warning you will wish 
To keep clear of this treacherous fish.

His back is black, his stomach white, 
He has a very dangerous bite.