Impressions

Oscar Wilde - 1854-1900

I. Les Silhouettes.

            The sea is flecked with bars of grey
            The dull dead wind is out of tune,
            And like a withered leaf the moon
Is blown across the stormy bay.

            Etched clear upon the pallid sand
            The black boat lies: a sailor boy
            Clambers aboard in careless joy
With laughing face and gleaming hand.

            And overheard the curlews cry,
            Where through the dusky upland grass
            The young brown-throated reapers pass,
Like silhouettes against the sky.

II. La Fuite De La Lune.

            To outer senses there is peace,
            A dreamy peace on either hand,
            Deep silence in the shadowy land,
Deep silence where the shadows cease.

            Save for a cry that echoes shrill
            From some lone bird disconsolate;
            A corncrake calling to its mate;
The answer from the misty hill.

            An suddenly the moon withdraws
            Her sickle from the lightening skies,
            And to her sombre cavern flies,
Wrapped in a veil of yellow gauze.

More by Oscar Wilde

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 leaves, and of grass, and of newly upturned 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.

To Milton

Milton! I think thy spirit hath passed away
    From these white cliffs, and high embattled towers;
    This gorgeous fiery-coloured world of ours
Seems fallen into ashes dull and grey,
And the age changed unto a mimic play
    Wherein we waste our else too-crowded hours:
    For all our pomp and pageantry and powers
We are but fit to delve the common clay,
Seeing this little isle on which we stand,
    This England, this sea-lion of the sea,
    By ignorant demagogues is held in fee,
Who love her not: Dear God! is this the land
    Which bare a triple empire in her hand
    When Cromwell spake the word Democracy!

Requiescat

Tread lightly, she is near
    Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
    The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair
    Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
    Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,
    She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
    Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,
    Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone
    She is at rest.

Peace, Peace, she cannot hear
    Lyre or sonnet,
All my life’s buried here,
    Heap earth upon it.