poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

occasions

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)

 

 

Magdalen Walks

The little white clouds are racing over the sky,
   And the fields are strewn with the gold of the flower of March,
   The daffodil breaks under foot, and the tasselled larch
Sways and swings as the thrush goes hurrying by.

A delicate odour is borne on the wings of the morning breeze,
   The odour of deep wet grass, and of brown new-furrowed earth,
   The birds are singing for joy of the Spring's glad birth,
Hopping from branch to branch on the rocking trees.

And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,
   And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,
   And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire
Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring.

And the plane to the pine-tree is whispering some tale of love
   Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its mantle of green,
   And the gloom of the wych-elm's hollow is lit with the iris sheen
Of the burnished rainbow throat and the silver breast of a dove.

See! the lark starts up from his bed in the meadow there,
   Breaking the gossamer threads and the nets of dew,
   And flashing adown the river, a flame of blue!
The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds the air.

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
I

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
  For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
  When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
  And murdered in her bed.

He walked amongst the Trial Men
  In a suit of shabby grey;
A cricket cap was on his head,
  And his step