Ernest Dowson was one of the more famouse (or would that be infamous?) writers of the Decadent Movement, along with other fellow absinthe drinkers like Oscar Wilde, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Verlaine, all of whom would live fast, die young and leave a good corpse. He didn't actually produce much poetry in his short life, but this particular prose poem is a nice hymn to absinthe:
Green changed to white, emerald to opal; nothing was changed. The man let the water trickle gently into his glass, and as the green clouded, a mist fell from his mind. Then he drank opaline. Memories and terrors beset him. The past tore after him like a panther and through the blackness of the present he saw the luminous tiger eyes of the things to be. But he drank opaline. And that obscure night of the soul, and the valley of humiliation, through which he stumbled, were forgotten. He saw blue vistas of undiscovered countries, high prospects and a quiet, caressing sea. The past shed its perfume over him, to-day held his hand as if it were a little child, and tomorrow shone like a white star: nothing was changed. He drank opaline. The man had known the obscure night of the soul, and lay even now in the valley of humiliation; and the tiger menace of the things to be was red in the skies. But for a little while he had forgotten. Green changed to white, emerald to opal; nothing was changed.
A particularly fascinating and tragic figure from the height of the Paris Bohemian era, Charles Cros was an inventor, mathematician, and poet. While his poetry mostly languishes in obscurity, he is well known for one poem written about absinthe.
With Flowers and With WomanCharles Cros
With Flowers, and with Women, With Absinthe, and with this Fire, We can divert ourselves a while, Act out our part in some drama. Absinthe, on a winter evening, Lights up in green the sooty soul; And Flowers, on the beloved, Grow fragrant before the clear Fire. Later, kisses lose their charm Having lasted several seasons; And after mutual betrayals We part one day without a tear. We burn letters and bouquets. And fire takes our bower; And if sad life is salvaged Still there is Absinthe and its hiccups.. The portraits are eaten by flames.. Shrivelled fingers tremble.. We die from sleeping long With Flowers, and with Women.