The Sonnets & Poetry of
Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas

Oscar and Bosie at Oxford in 1893

"All good poetry is forged slowly and patiently, link by link, with sweat and blood and tears."
- Lord Alfred Douglas


The Green River

I know a green grass path that leaves the field
And, like a running river, winds along
Into a leafy wood, where is no throng
Of birds at noon-day; and no soft throats yield
Their music to the moon. The place is sealed,
An unclaimed sovereignty of voiceless song,
And all the unravished silences belong
To some sweet singer lost, or unrevealed.

So is my soul become a silent place...
Oh, may I wake from this uneasy night
To find some voice of music manifold.
Let it be shape of sorrow with wan face,
Or love that swoons on sleep, or else delight
That is as wide-eyed as a marigold.

-Lord Alfred Douglas

A Summer Storm

Alas! how frail and weak a little boat
I have sailed in. I call it Happiness,
And I had thought there was not storm nor stress
Of wind so masterful but it would float
Blithely in their despite; but lo! one note
Of harsh discord, one word of bitterness,
And a fierce overwhelming wilderness
Of angry waters chokes my gasping throat.

I am near drowned in this unhappy sea,
I will not strive, let me lie still and sink,
I have no joy to live. Oh! unkind love!
Why have you wounded me so bitterly?
That am as easily wounded as a dove
Who has a silver throat and feet of pink.

-Lord Alfred Douglas


Read Two Loves, reprinted from The Chameleon,
possibly Bosie's most famous poem.



Letter to Lord Alfred Douglas
January 1893

My Own Boy,
Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel
that those rose-leaf lips of yours should have been made
no less for music of song than for madness of kisses.
Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry.
I know Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly,
was you in Greek days.

Why are you alone in London, and when do you go to Salisbury?
Do go there to cool your hands in the grey twilight of
Gothic things, and come here whenever you like.
It is a lovely place--it only lacks you; but go to
Salisbury first. Always, with undying love,



1. Douglas' mother, the Lady Queensberry, had a house in Salisbury called St. Ann's Gate in the Close.
2. Douglas sent Wilde a sonnet entitled In Sarum Close (1892). Its third and fourth lines read as follows:
I thought to cool my burning hands
In this calm twilight of gray Gothic things.
3. The letter was subsequently translated into French by Pierre Louys (below) and published in the May 4, 1893
edition of the Oxford undergraduate magazine The Spirit Lamp edited by Douglas. It was later stolen, used
as material for attempted blackmail against Wilde, and finally read in court during the trials.


by Olive Custance
(Lady Alfred Douglas)

Fair boy, how gay the morning must have seemed
Before the fatal game that murdered thee!
Of such a dawn my wistful heart has dreamed:
Surely I too have lived in Arcady
When Spring, lap-full of roses, ran to meet
While Aphrodite risen from the sea...

Perchance I saw thee then, so glad and fleet,
Hasten to greet Apollo, stoop to bind
The gold and jewelled sandals on his feet,
While he so radiant, so divinely kind,
Lured thee with honeyed words to be his friend,
All heedless of thy fate, for Love is blind.

For Love is blind and cruel, and the end
Of every joy is sorrow and distress.
And when immortal creatures lightly bend
To kiss the lips of simple loveliness,
Swords are unsheathed in silence, and clouds rise,
Some God is jealous of the mute caress...

But who shall mourn thy death - ah, not the wise?
Better to perish in thy happiest hour,
To close in sight of beauty thy dark eyes,
And, dying so, be changed into a flower,
Than that the stealthy and relentless years
SHould steal that grave which was thy only dower.

And bring thee in return dull cares and tears,
And difficult day and sickness and despair...
Oh, not for thee the griefs and sordid fears
That, like a burden, trembling age must bear;
Slain in thy youth, by the sweet hands of love,
Thou shalt remain for ever young and fair.

The New Remorse
Oscar Wilde, 1891
(written for Lord Alfred Douglas)

The Sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardley can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.
But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is they new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

Letter to Lord Alfred Douglas
July 1897

"I feel that my only hope of again doing beautiful work in art
is being with you. Everyone is furious with me for going back to you,
but they don't understand us. I feel that it is only with you that
I can do anything at all. Do remake my ruined life for me, and then
our friendship and love will have a different meaning to the world."

- Oscar Wilde
(following his release from prison)

Images of Bosie and Oscar dining together in Naples, Italy; reunited following Oscar's release from prison.
(Courtesy of Clark Library, UCLA)

The Dead Poet

I dreamed of him last night, I saw his face
All radiant and unshadowed of distress,
And as of old, in music measureless,
I heard his golden voice and marked him trace
Under the common thing the hidden grace,
And conjure wonder out of emptiness
Till mean things put on beauty like a dress
And all the world was an enchanted place.

And then methought outside a fast locked gate
I mourned the loss of unrecorded words,
Forgotten tales and mysteries half said,
Wonders that might have been articulate,
And voiceless thoughts like murdered singing birds.
And so I woke and knew he was dead.

-Lord Alfred Douglas
(written about Oscar Wilde the year after his death)


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Letters, photographs and poems of Lord Alfred Douglas copyright the Lord Alfred Douglas Literary Estate and
have been reproduced and adapted by courtesy of John Rubinstein and John Stratford. All Rights Reserved.
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