Taboo Sex Is Best, According to This Victorian Poet

Lord Alfred Douglas, known affectionately as “Bosie,” was the infamous young lover of Oscar Wilde (think Jude Law and Stephen Fry in 1997’s “Wilde”) — infamous not only because of his late-19th-century indiscretion, but because of his Veruca-Salt tendencies (“I want it now, Daddy!”). Two of his poems were brought up in Wilde’s “gross indecency” trial, including “In Praise of Shame,” a, well, shameless celebration of “so wrong it’s right” passion. It’s a perfect embodiment of Bosie’s youthful incorrigibleness — then seemingly reckless; now, in retrospect, kind of ballsy. (He later embraced Catholicism — and anti-Semitism — and was married, quite unhappily, to a woman [insert sad trombone sound here].)

poemsoflorddouglas200“In Praise of Shame”
by Lord Alfred Douglas

Last night unto my bed bethought there came
Our lady of strange dreams, and from an urn
She poured live fire, so that mine eyes did burn
At the sight of it. Anon the floating fame
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.”

bosie200And afterwords, 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 the loveliest.”




More gay poetry!
Allen Ginsberg’s Date with Walt Whitman at the Grocery Store


  1. Ah jeez… a man from the 1800’s just gave me a semi with a poem.

    He’s right, though. While the demise of Shame in our society has liberated so many, and we shouldn’t try to resurrect her, let us at least remember her. For when Shame died, a little sexiness died with her.

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