Infatuation for magnificence and tender ages in the prose and verse of Oscar Wilde

If you remember Dorian from The Picture of Dorian Gray, then perhaps you know about his obsession with everything that was beautiful and young. Youth was bound to beauty, a union that was difficult to undo. Perhaps the portrait that Dorian created and that came to life when revealed with its owner, were also two ends attached to the same point. Body, soul, person and image. The portrait that Dorian created was able to show beyond a simple physic, delving into the depths of the creator’s soul.

But this obsession that Dorian felt it is also reflected in Wilde. In particular, we talk about its lyric; full of nuances about youth, paintings, and beauty. Each verse is somehow linked to the novel, as we can see below.

The Artist

And he took the image he had fashioned, and set it in a great furnace, and gave it to the fire.

And out of the bronze of the image of The Sorrow that endureth for Ever he fashioned an image of The Pleasure that abideth for a Moment.

The House of Judgement

And God said to the Man, 'Thy life hath been evil, and the Beauty I have shown thou hast sought for, and the Good I have hidden thou didst pass by. The walls of thy chamber were painted with images, and from the bed of thine abominations thou didst rise up to the sound of flutes.


Perchance it may be better so–at least

I have not made my heart a heart of stone,

Nor starved my boyhood of its goodly feast, Nor walked where Beauty is a thing unknown.


In vain the sad narcissus, wan and white

At its own beauty, hung across the stream

The Burden of Itys

Sing on! sing on! let the dull world grow young, Let elemental things take form again,

And the old shapes of Beauty walk among The simple garths and open crofts, as when

The son of Leto bare the willow rod,

And the soft sheep and shaggy goats followed the boyish God.

The Garden of Eros

Spirit of Beauty! tarry with us still,

It is not quenched the torch of poesy,

The star that shook above the Eastern hill Holds unassailed its argent armoury

From all the gathering gloom and fretful fight–

O tarry with us still! for through the long and common night

Flower of Love

For the crimson flower of our life is eaten by the cankerworm of truth, And no hand can gather up the fallen withered petals of the rose of youth.


Rudderless, we drift athwart a tempest, and when once the storm of youth is past,

Without lyre, without lute or chorus, Death the silent pilot comes at last.


Now is the Spring of Love, yet soon will come
On meadow and tree the Summer’s lordly bloom;
And soon the grass with brighter flowers will blow,
And send up lilies for some boy to mow.
Then before long the Summer’s conqueror,
Rich Autumn-time, the season’s usurer,
Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees,
And see it scattered by the spendthrift breeze;
And after that the Winter cold and drear.
So runs the perfect cycle of the year.
And so from youth to manhood do we go,
And fall to weary days and locks of snow.

Taedium Viate

To stab my youth with desperate knives, to wear This paltry age’s gaudy livery,

To let each base hand filch my treasury,

To mesh my soul within a woman’s hair,

And be mere Fortune’s lackeyed groom, – I swear I love it not! these things are less to me

Than the thin foam that frets upon the sea,

Less than the thistledown of summer air

Which hath no seed: better to stand aloof

Far from these slanderous fools who mock my life Knowing me not, better the lowliest roof

Fit for the meanest hind to sojourn in,

Than to go back to that hoarse cave of strife Where my white soul first kissed the mouth of sin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s