In Praise of Shame

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Lord Alfred Douglas

Lord Alfred Douglas published this poem in praise of queer desire in Oxford's undergraduate literary journal. It was later used as evidence against Oscar Wilde in the first criminal trial.


Unto my bed last night, methought there came
Our lady of strange dreams, and from an urn
She poured live fire, so that mine eyes did burn
At sight of it. Anon the floating flame
Took many shapes, and one cried, 'I am Shame
That walks with Love, I am most wise to turn
Cold lips and limbs to fire; therefore discern
And see my loveliness, and praise my name.'

And afterward, in radiant garments dressed,
With sound of flutes and laughing of glad lips,
A pomp of all the passions passed along,
All the night through; till the white phantom ships
Of dawn sailed in. Whereat I said this song,
'Of all sweet passions Shame is loveliest.'

Title of volume of first printing
The Chameleon
Gay and Bird
Page numbers in original volume