Saturday, 23 February 2008

Bosie

One of the books that I got from/through K is The Penguin Book of International Gay Writing. In the introduction David Leavitt* mentions Bosie Douglas. I thought it was funny/interesting and felt like sharing.

About the only constructive thing Lord Alfred Douglas ever did was write a poem called "The Two Loves." The poem, which compared heterosexual and homosexual romance dialogically, concluded:

     "I am true love, I fill
     The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame."
     Then sighing said the other, "Have thy will,
     I am the love that dares not speak its name."

A bad poet and a worse friend, "Bosie" Douglas probably had no idea that in slapping together this crude bit of undergraduate verse he was signposting the future of Anglo-American thinking about homosexuality. For in the aftermath of the Wilde trials, the "naming" of homosexuals would become an obsession to the English-speaking world. To be named by hostile outsiders, it was assumed, meant condemnation, rejection, exile. On the other hand, to declare oneself--though dangerous--allowed for the possibility of escaping a life of lies.

This struck me because Joe's most recent Open Thread Thursday was on coming out. Also, "A bad poet and a worse friend" is such a wonderful description it immediately caught my eye.

* I've only read one of his novels, but several of his collections of short stories and I've enjoyed those very much.

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