Oscar Wilde, His Life and Confessions, by Frank Harris


Here are the two poems of Lord Alfred Douglas which were read out in Court, on account of which the prosecution sought to incriminate Oscar Wilde. My readers can judge for themselves the value of any inference to be drawn from such work by another hand. To me, I must confess, the poems themselves seem harmless and pretty — I had almost said, academic and unimportant.

Two Loves
To “The Sphinx”

Two loves I have of comfort and despair

That like two spirits do suggest me still,

My better angel is a man right fair,

My worse a woman tempting me to ill. — Shakespeare.

I dreamed I stood upon a little hill,

And at my feet there lay a ground, that seemed

Like a waste garden, flowering at its will

With flowers and blossoms. There were pools that dreamed

Black and unruffled; there were white lilies

A few, and crocuses, and violets

Purple or pale, snake-like fritillaries

Scarce seen for the rank grass, and through green nets

Blue eyes of shy pervenche winked in the sun.

And there were curious flowers, before unknown,

Flowers that were stained with moonlight, or with shades

Of Nature’s wilful moods; and here a one

That had drunk in the transitory tone

Of one brief moment in a sunset; blades

Of grass that in an hundred springs had been

Slowly but exquisitely nurtured by the stars,

And watered with the scented dew long cupped

In lilies, that for rays of sun had seen

Only God’s glory, for never a sunrise mars

The luminous air of heaven. Beyond, abrupt,

A gray stone wall, o’ergrown with velvet moss

Uprose. And gazing I stood long, all mazed

To see a place so strange, so sweet, so fair.

And as I stood and marvelled, lo! across

The garden came a youth, one hand he raised

To shield him from the sun, his wind-tossed hair

Was twined with flowers, and in his hand he bore

A purple bunch of bursting grapes, his eyes

Were clear as crystal, naked all was he,

White as the snow on pathless mountains frore,

Red were his lips as red wine-spilth that dyes

A marble floor, his brow chalcedony.

And he came near me, with his lips uncurled

And kind, and caught my hand and kissed my mouth,

And gave me grapes to eat, and said, “Sweet friend,

Come, I will show thee shadows of the world

And images of life. See, from the south

Comes the pale pageant that hath never an end.”

And lo! within the garden of my dream

I saw two walking on a shining plain

Of golden light. The one did joyous seem

And fair and blooming, and a sweet refrain

Came from his lips; he sang of pretty maids

And joyous love of comely girl and boy;

His eyes were bright, and ‘mid the dancing blades

Of golden grass his feet did trip for joy.

And in his hands he held an ivory lute,

With strings of gold that were as maidens’ hair,

And sang with voice as tuneful as a flute,

And round his neck three chains of roses were.

But he that was his comrade walked aside;

He was full sad and sweet, and his large eyes

Were strange with wondrous brightness, staring wide

With gazing; and he sighed with many sighs

That moved me, and his cheeks were wan and white

Like pallid lilies, and his lips were red

Like poppies, and his hands he clenched tight,

And yet again unclenched, and his head

Was wreathed with moon-flowers pale as lips of death.

A purple robe he wore, o’erwrought in gold

With the device of a great snake, whose breath

Was fiery flame: which when I did behold

I fell a-weeping and I cried, “Sweet youth

Tell me why, sad and sighing, thou dost rove

These pleasant realms? I pray thee speak me sooth

What is thy name?” He said, “My name is Love.”

Then straight the first did turn himself to me

And cried, “He lieth, for his name is Shame,

But I am Love, and I was wont to be

Alone in this fair garden, till he came

Unasked by night; I am true Love, I fill

The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.”

Then sighing said the other, “Have thy will,

I am the Love that dare not speak its name.”


September, 1892.

In Praise of Shame

Unto my bed last night, methought there came

Our lady of strange dreams, and from an urn

She poured live fire, so that mine eyes did burn

At sight of it. Anon the floating flame

Took many shapes, and one cried, “I am Shame

That walks with Love, I am most wise to turn

Cold lips and limbs to fire; therefore discern

And see my loveliness, and praise my name.”

And afterward, in radiant garments dressed,

With sound of flutes and laughing of glad lips,

A pomp of all the passions passed along,

All the night through; till the white phantom ships

Of dawn sailed in. Whereat I said this song,

“Of all sweet passions Shame is loveliest.”



Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:02