SONNETS.1

TO THE AUTHOR OF THE PHRASE: “I AM NOT A GENTLEMAN AND I HAVE NO FRIENDS.”

I.

SELF-DAMNED, the leprous moisture of thy veins

Sickens the sunshine, and thine haggard eyes,

Bleared with their own corrupting infamies,

Glare through the charnel-house of earthly pains.

Horrible as already in hell. There reigns

The terror of the knowledge of the lies

That mock thee; thy death’s double destinies

Clutch at the throat that sobs, and chokes, and strains.

Self-damned on earth, live out thy tortured days,

That men may look upon thy face, and see

How vile a thing of woman born may be.

Then, we are done with thee; go, go thy ways {115B}

To other hells, thou damned of God hereafter,

’Mid men’s contempt and hate and pitiless laughter.

 

II.

Lust, impotence, and knowledge of thy soul,

And that foreknowledge, fill the fiery lake

Of lava where thy lazar corpse shall break

The burning surface to seek out a goal

More horrible, unspeakable. The scroll

Opens, and coward, liar, monster shake

Those other names of goat and swine and snake

Wherewith Hell’s worms caress thee and control.

Nay, but alone, intolerably alone,

Alone, as here, thy carrion soul shall swelter,

Yearning in vain for sleep, or death, or shelter;

No release possible, no respite known!

Self-damned, without a friend, thy eternal place

Sweats through the painting of thy harlot’s face.

At the hour of the eclipse,

Wednesday, Dec. 28.

1. The virulence of these sonnets is excusable when it is known that their aim was to destroy the influence in Cambridge of a man who headed in that University a movement parallel to that which at Oxford was associated with the name of Oscar Wilde. They had their effect.

 

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