Archive for June 15, 2009

Days of Wine and Roses

Posted in Jazz, Poetry with tags , , , on June 15, 2009 by telescoper

Today I finished all my exam marking, and decided to celebrate by drinking a glass or two of wine while I sat in my garden. The lovely roses that have recently been in bloom are already starting to fade and drop their petals. For obvious reasons, this reminded me of this little poem by Ernest Dowson.

The title is Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam, which I translate from my half-remembered schoolboy Latin as something like “the brief span of Life forbids us from conceiving an enduring hope”. It’s a quotation from one of the Odes of Horace (Book I, Ode 4, line 15).

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.

The phrase “days of wine and roses” became the title of an excellent film dealing with the effects of alcoholism on family life, for which Henry Mancini wrote a song with the same title that went on to become a Jazz standard. Here is a lovely version played live by the great Bill Evans (who featured in another recent post of mine).

In the rather melancholy spirit of this post, I’ll add that Bill Evans died in 1980 just about a month after this performance.