Oscar Wilde, His Life and Confessions, by Frank Harris


(See page 517)

To Oscar Wilde

I dreamed of you last night, I saw your face

All radiant and unshadowed of distress,

And as of old, in measured tunefulness,

I heard your golden voice and marked you trace

Under the common thing the hidden grace,

And conjure wonder out of emptiness,

Till mean things put on Beauty like a dress,

And all the world was an enchanted place.

And so I knew that it was well with you,

And that unprisoned, gloriously free,

Across the dark you stretched me out your hand.

And all the spite of this besotted crew,

(Scrabbling on pillars of Eternity)

How small it seems! Love made me understand.

Alfred Douglas.

Whoever chooses to compare this first sketch of the sonnet of 1900 with the sonnet as it was published in 1910 will remark three notable differences.

The first sketch was entitled “To Oscar Wilde,” the revision to “The Dead Poet.”

In the early draft, the first line:

“I dreamed of you last night, I saw your face,” has become less intimate, having been changed into:

“I dreamed of him last night, I saw his face.”

Finally the sextet which in the first sketch was very inferior to the rest has now been discarded in favour of six lines which are worthy of the octave. The published sonnet is assuredly superior to the first sketch, superb though that was.


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