Dowson, Ernest Christopher

Dowson, Ernest Christopher douˈsən [key], 1867–1900, English poet. He attended Queens College, Oxford, but left in 1888 without taking a degree. Dowson's life was tragic. In 1894 his father died, and his mother committed suicide six months later. Dowson himself was consumptive, alcoholic, and debt-ridden. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 32. One of the fin-de-siècle decadents, Dowson wrote fragile, sensuous poetry voicing regret for the passing of youth and beauty, the denial of love, and the rejection of pleasure. His best-known poem is “Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae,” with its refrain, “I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.” A Roman Catholic, Dowson wrote some very fine religious poetry. He also made some notable translations from the French and wrote a novel and a play.

See his works (ed. by D. Flower, 1934) and his letters (ed. by D. Flower and H. Maas, 1968); biographies by T. B. Swann (1964), J. M. Longaker (3d ed. 1967), and J. Adams (2000).

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