Sapientia Lunae

A poem by Ernest Christopher Dowson

The wisdom of the world said unto me:
"Go forth and run, the race is to the brave;
Perchance some honour tarrieth for thee!"
"As tarrieth," I said, "for sure, the grave."
For I had pondered on a rune of roses,
Which to her votaries the moon discloses.

The wisdom of the world said: "There are bays:
Go forth and run, for victory is good,
After the stress of the laborious days."
"Yet," said I, "shall I be the worms' sweet food,"
As I went musing on a rune of roses,
Which in her hour, the pale, soft moon discloses.

Then said my voices: "Wherefore strive or run,
On dusty highways ever, a vain race?
The long night cometh, starless, void of sun,
What light shall serve thee like her golden face?"
For I had pondered on a rune of roses,
And knew some secrets which the moon discloses.

"Yea," said I, "for her eyes are pure and sweet
As lilies, and the fragrance of her hair
Is many laurels; and it is not meet
To run for shadows when the prize is here";
And I went reading in that rune of roses
Which to her votaries the moon discloses.

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