Out Of A Misty Dream Our Path Emerges For A While …


So, I suppose we have to admit that the cricket season is over and the football season has begun.

A little known fact – at least I’ve never heard Alan Hansen allude to it on Match of the Day – is that the earliest use of the word “soccer” recorded in the O.E.D. is in a letter from the ‘nineties poet Ernest Dowson, dated 1889:

“I absolutely decline to see socca’ matches” 

The O.E.D. is tantalisingly bare of context – was he, perhaps, more of a rugga’ man? – but it does not appear that (unlike his fellow decadent Francis Thompson) he was very fond of cricket.  The only reference I can find to the game in his letters is the following, written from Bognor –

“I have I fear to be another ten days in this inexpressibly horrid plage – full of English Mlls and Varsity men who play cricket with them on the sands.”   

So not, apparently, an enthusiast. 

Ernest Dowson : Not a Socca' Man

But – once we have sent our little books out into the world – we have no say in how they are used.  So, to me, this – his most famous poem – is about the cricket season.

Fairfield Road in Spring


Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam


They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,

Love and desire and hate:

I think they have no portion in us after

We pass the gate.


They are not long, the days of wine and roses:

Out of a misty dream

Our path emerges for a while, then closes

Within a dream.


Fairfield Road in Autumn


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