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Oscar wilde

Oscar Wilde

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
39

Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest.

Peace, peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life’s buried here,
Heap earth upon it.

4

THE silver trumpets rang across the Dome:
The people knelt upon the ground with awe:
And borne upon the necks of men I saw,
Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.
Priest—like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king—like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head:
In splendour and in light the Pope passed home.
My heart stole back across wide wastes of years
To One who wandered by a lonely sea,
And sought in vain for any place of rest:
‘Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest,
I, only I, must wander wearily,
And bruise my feet, and drink wine salt with tears.’

WHERE hast thou been since round the walls of Troy
The sons of God fought in that great emprise?
Why dost thou walk our common earth again?
Hast thou forgotten that impassioned boy,
His purple galley, and his Tyrian men,
And treacherous Aphrodite’s mocking eyes?
For surely it was thou, who, like a star
Hung in the silver silence of the night,
Didst lure the Old World’s chivalry and might
Into the clamorous crimson waves of war!

Or didst thou rule the fire—laden moon?
In amorous Sidon was thy temple built
Over the light and laughter of the sea?
Where, behind lattice scarlet—wrought and gilt,
Some brown—limbed girl did weave thee tapestry,
All through the waste and wearied hours of noon;
Till her wan cheek with flame of passion burned,
And she rose up the sea—washed lips to kiss
Of some glad Cyprian sailor, safe returned
From Calpé and the cliffs of Herakles!

No! thou art Helen, and none other one!
It was for thee that young Sarpedôn died,
And Memnôn’s manhood was untimely spent;
It was for thee gold—crested Hector tried
With Thetis’ child that evil race to run,
In the last year of thy beleaguerment;
Ay! even now the glory of thy fame
Burns in those fields of trampled asphodel,
Where the high lords whom Ilion knew so well
Clash ghostly shields, and call upon thy name.

Where hast thou been? in that enchanted land
Whose slumbering vales forlorn Calypso knew,
Where never mower rose to greet the day
But all unswathed the trammelling grasses grew,
And the sad shepherd saw the tall corn stand
Till summer’s red had changed to withered gray?
Didst thou lie there by some Lethæan stream
Deep brooding on thine ancient memory,
The crash of broken spears, the fiery gleam
From shivered helm, the Grecian battle—cry.

Nay, thou wert hidden in that hollow hill
With one who is forgotten utterly,
That discrowned Queen men call the Erycine;
Hidden away that never mightst thou see
The face of Her, before whose mouldering shrine
To—day at Rome the silent nations kneel;
Who gat from Love no joyous gladdening,
But only Love’s intolerable pain,
Only a sword to pierce her heart in twain,
Only the bitterness of child—bearing.

The lotos—leaves which heal the wounds of Death
Lie in thy hand; O, be thou kind to me,
While yet I know the summer of my days;
For hardly can my tremulous lips draw breath
To fill the silver trumpet with thy praise,
So bowed am I before thy mystery;
So bowed and broken on Love’s terrible wheel,
That I have lost all hope and heart to sing,
Yet care I not what ruin time may bring
If in thy temple thou wilt let me kneel.

Alas, alas, thou wilt not tarry here,
But, like that bird, the servant of the sun,
Who flies before the northwind and the night,
So wilt thou fly our evil land and drear,
Back to the tower of thine old delight,
And the red lips of young Euphorion;
Nor shall I ever see thy face again,
But in this poisonous garden must I stay,
Crowning my brows with the thorn—crown of pain,
Till all my loveless life shall pass away.

O Helen! Helen! Helen! yet awhile,
Yet for a little while, O, tarry here,
Till the dawn cometh and the shadows flee!
For in the gladsome sunlight of thy smile
Of heaven or hell I have no thought or fear,
Seeing I know no other god but thee:
No other god save him, before whose feet
In nets of gold the tired planets move,
The incarnate spirit of spiritual love
Who in thy body holds his joyous seat.

Thou wert not born as common women are!
But, girt with silver splendour of the foam,
Didst from the depths of sapphire seas arise!
And at thy coming some immortal star,
Bearded with flame, blazed in the Eastern skies,
And waked the shepherds on thine island—home.
Thou shalt not die: no asps of Egypt creep
Close at thy heels to taint the delicate air;
No sullen—blooming poppies stain thy hair,
Those scarlet heralds of eternal sleep.

Lily of love, pure and inviolate!
Tower of ivory! red rose of fire!
Thou hast come down our darkness to illume:
For we, close—caught in the wide nets of Fate,
Wearied with waiting for the World’s Desire,
Aimlessly wandered in the house of gloom,
Aimlessly sought some slumberous anodyne
For wasted lives, for lingering wretchedness,
Till we beheld thy re—arisen shrine,
And the white glory of thy loveliness.

These are the letters which Endymion wrote
To one he loved in secret and apart,
And now the brawlers of the auction—mart
Bargain and bid for each poor blotted note,
Aye! for each separate pulse of passion quote
The merchant’s price! I think they love not art
Who break the crystal of a poet’s heart,
That small and sickly eyes may glare or gloat.
Is it not said, that many years ago,
In a far Eastern town some soldiers ran
With torches through the midnight, and began
To wrangle for mean raiment, and to throw
Dice for the garments of a wretched man,
Not knowing the God’s wonder, or his woe?

With a Copy of My Poems

I can write no stately proem
As a prelude to my lay;
From a poet to a poem
I would dare to say.

For if of these fallen petals
One to you seem fair,
Love will waft it till it settles
On your hair.

And when wind and winter harden
All the loveless land,
It will whisper of the garden,
You will understand.

It was night—time and He was alone.

And He saw afar—off the walls of a round city and went towards the
city.

And when He came near He heard within the city the tread of the
feet of joy, and the laughter of the mouth of gladness and the loud
noise of many lutes. And He knocked at the gate and certain of the
gate—keepers opened to Him.

And He beheld a house that was of marble and had fair pillars of
marble before it. The pillars were hung with garlands, and within
and without there were torches of cedar. And He entered the house.

And when He had passed through the hall of chalcedony and the hall
of jasper, and reached the long hall of feasting, He saw lying on a
couch of sea—purple one whose hair was crowned with red roses and
whose lips were red with wine.

And He went behind him and touched him on the shoulder and said to
him, ‘Why do you live like this?’

And the young man turned round and recognised Him, and made answer
and said, ‘But I was a leper once, and you healed me. How else
should I live?’

And He passed out of the house and went again into the street.

And after a little while He saw one whose face and raiment were
painted and whose feet were shod with pearls. And behind her came,
slowly as a hunter, a young man who wore a cloak of two colours.
Now the face of the woman was as the fair face of an idol, and the
eyes of the young man were bright with lust.

And He followed swiftly and touched the hand of the young man and
said to him, ‘Why do you look at this woman and in such wise?’

And the young man turned round and recognised Him and said, ‘But I
was blind once, and you gave me sight. At what else should I
look?’

And He ran forward and touched the painted raiment of the woman and
said to her, ‘Is there no other way in which to walk save the way
of sin?’

And the woman turned round and recognised Him, and laughed and
said, ‘But you forgave me my sins, and the way is a pleasant way.’

And He passed out of the city.

And when He had passed out of the city He saw seated by the
roadside a young man who was weeping.

And He went towards him and touched the long locks of his hair and
said to him, ‘Why are you weeping?’

And the young man looked up and recognised Him and made answer,
‘But I was dead once, and you raised me from the dead. What else
should I do but weep?’

I MARVEL not Bassanio was so bold
To peril all he had upon the lead,
Or that proud Aragon bent low his head,
Or that Morocco’s fiery heart grew cold:
For in that gorgeous dress of beaten gold
Which is more golden than the golden sun,
No woman Veronesé looked upon
Was half so fair as thou whom I behold.
Yet fairer when with wisdom as your shield
The sober—suited lawyer’s gown you donned
And would not let the laws of Venice yield
Antonio’s heart to that accursèd Jew—
O Portia! take my heart: it is thy due:
I think I will not quarrel with the Bond.

Two crowned Kings, and One that stood alone
With no green weight of laurels round his head,
But with sad eyes as one uncomforted,
And wearied with man’s never-ceasing moan
For sins no bleating victim can atone,
And sweet long lips with tears and kisses fed.
Girt was he in a garment black and red,
And at his feet I marked a broken stone
Which sent up lilies, dove-like, to his knees.
Now at their sight, my heart being lit with flame,
I cried to Beatrice, ‘Who are these? ’
And she made answer, knowing well each name,
'AEschylos first, the second Sophokles,
And last (wide stream of tears!) Euripides.'

The seasons send their ruin as they go,
For in the spring the narciss shows its head
Nor withers till the rose has flamed to red,
And in the autumn purple violets blow,
And the slim crocus stirs the winter snow;
Wherefore yon leafless trees will bloom again
And this grey land grow green with summer rain
And send up cowslips for some boy to mow.

But what of life whose bitter hungry sea
Flows at our heels, and gloom of sunless night
Covers the days which never more return?
Ambition, love and all the thoughts that burn
We lose too soon, and only find delight
In withered husks of some dead memory.

An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly,
And, here and therem a passer—by
Shows like a little restless midge.

Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.

The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.

TO drift with every passion till my soul  
Is as a stringed lute on which all winds can play,  
Is it for this that I have given away  
Mine ancient wisdom and austere control?  
Methinks my life is a twice—written scroll
Scrawled over on some boyish holiday  
With idle songs for pipe and virelay,  
Which do but mar the secret of the whole.  
 
Surely there was a time I might have trod  
The sunlit heights, and from life’s dissonance
Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God:  
Is that time dead? Lo! with a little rod  
I did but touch the honey of romance—  
And must I lose my soul’s inheritance?

O SINGER of Persephone!
In the dim meadows desolate
Dost thou remember Sicily?

Still through the ivy flits the bee
Where Amaryllis lies in state;
O Singer of Persephone!

Simætha calls on Hecate
And hears the wild dogs at the gate;
Dost thou remember Sicily?

Still by the light and laughing sea
Poor Polypheme bemoans his fate:
O Singer of Persephone!

And still in boyish rivalry
Young Daphnis challenges his mate:
Dost thou remember Sicily?

Slim Lacon keeps a goat for thee,
For thee the jocund shepherds wait,
O Singer of Persephone!
Dost thou remember Sicily?