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About this Poem 

Because of his romantic involvement with Oscar Wilde, the association between John Gray and the titular character of Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray was common among London's literary circles. He eventually moved to Rome and became a priest.


John Gray
To Arthur Edmonds

Geranium, houseleek, laid in oblong beds
On the trim grass. The daisies' leprous stain
Is fresh. Each night the daisies burst again,
Though every day the gardener crops their heads.

A wistful child, in foul unwholesome shreds,
Recalls some legend of a daisy chain
That makes a pretty necklace. She would fain
Make one, and wear it, if she had some threads.

Sun, leprous flowers, foul child. The asphalt burns.
The garrulous sparrows perch on metal Burns.
Sing! Sing! they say, and flutter with their wings.
He does not sing, he only wonders why
He is sitting there. The sparrows sing. And I
Yield to the strait allure of simple things.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 30, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

John Gray

by this poet


To Oscar Wilde

There was the summer. There 
     Warm hours of leaf-lipped song, 
     And dripping amber sweat. 
     O sweet to see 
The great trees condescend to cast a pearl 
Down to the myrtles; and the proud leaves curl 
     In ecstasy 

Fruit of a quest, despair. 
Smart of a sullen wrong.