Dowson, Ernest Christopher

Dowson, Ernest Christopher dou´sən [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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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