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About this poet

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, on October 16, 1854. His father, William Wilde, was a surgeon, and his mother, Jane Francesca Wilde, published poetry under the name Speranza. Wilde attended Trinity College, Dublin, from 1871 to 1874 and Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1874 to 1878. At Oxford, he received the Newdigate Prize for his long poem Ravenna (T. Shrimpton and Son, 1878). He also became involved in the aesthetic movement, advocating for the value of beauty in art.

After graduating from Oxford, Wilde moved to London to pursue a literary career. He published his first full-length book of poetry, Poems (Roberts Brothers), in 1881. In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, and together they had two children. In 1888 he published his first work of prose, The Happy Prince, and Other Tales (D. Nutt, 1888).

Wilde is perhaps best known for his plays, including An Ideal Husband (L. Smithers, 1899) and The Importance of Being Earnest (E. Matthews and John Lane, 1899), both first performed in 1895. He is also the author of several fairy tales, critical essays, and other works of prose, as well as the iconic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (Ward, Lock and Co., 1891).

George Bernard Shaw writes, “In a certain sense Mr. Wilde is to me our only thorough playwright. He plays with everything: with wit, with philosophy, with drama, with actors and audience, with the whole theatre.”

During the 1890s, Wilde faced three criminal and civil trials involving his relationship with the poet Lord Alfred Douglas. In 1895 he was found guilty of “gross indecency,” and he was imprisoned in Reading Gaol from 1895 to 1897. The Ballad of Reading Gaol (L. Smithers), a long poem describing the horrors Wilde faced in prison, was published in 1898 under the pseudonym C. 3. 3., his former cell number.

Wilde died of acute meningitis in Paris, France, on November 30, 1900.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
The Ballad of Reading Gaol (L. Smithers, 1898)
The Sphinx (E. Matthews and John Lane, 1894)
Poems (Roberts Brothers, 1881)
Ravenna (T. Shrimpton and Son, 1878)

Prose
De Profundis (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905)
The Rise of Historical Criticism (Sherwood Press, 1905)
Epigrams & Aphorisms (J. W. Luce, 1905)
The Soul of Man Under Socialism (Chiswick Pess, 1895)
Intentions (Mead and Co., 1894)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Ward, Lock and Co., 1891)
The Happy Prince, and Other Tales (D. Nutt, 1888)

Drama
The Plays of Oscar Wilde (J. W. Luce & Co., 1905)
An Ideal Husband (L. Smithers, 1899)
The Importance of Being Earnest (L. Smithers, 1899)
A Woman of No Importance (E. Matthews and John Lane, 1894)
Salomé, drame an un acte (Librairie de l’art independent, 1893)

 

 

Impression du Voyage

The sea was sapphire coloured, and the sky
    Burned like a heated opal through air,
    We hoisted sail; the wind was blowing fair
For the blue lands that to the eastward lie.
From the steep prow I marked with quickening eye
    Zakynthos, every olive grove and creek,
    Ithaca’s cliff, Lycaon’s snowy peak,
And all the flower-strewn hills of Arcady.
The flapping of the sail against the mast,
    The ripple of the water on the side,
    The ripple of girls’ laughter at the stern,
The only sounds:—when ’gan the West to burn,
    And a red sun upon the seas to ride,
    I stood upon the soil of Greece at last!

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, on October 16, 1854. He attended Trinity College, Dublin, from 1871 to 1874 and Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1874 to 1878. At Oxford, he received the Newdigate Prize for his long poem Ravenna (T. Shrimpton and Son, 1878). He also became involved in the aesthetic movement, advocating for the value of beauty in art.

by this poet

poem

The wild bee reels from bough to bough
    With his furry coat and his gauzy wing.
Now in a lily-cup, and now
    Setting a jacinth bell a-swing,
            In his wandering;
Sit closer love: it was here I trow
            I made that vow,

Swore that two lives should be like one

poem

Like burnt-out torches by a sick man’s bed
    Gaunt cypress-trees stand round the sun-bleached stone;
    Here doth the little night-owl make her throne,
And the slight lizard show his jewelled head.
And, where the chaliced poppies flame to red,
    In the still chamber of yon pyramid

poem

My limbs are wasted with a flame,
    My feet are sore with travelling,
For calling on my Lady’s name
    My lips have now forgot to sing.

O Linnet in the wild-rose brake
    Strain for my Love thy melody,
O Lark sing louder for love’s sake,
    My gentle Lady passeth by.