La Bella Donna Della Mia Mente

- 1854-1900

My limbs are wasted with a flame,
    My feet are sore with travelling,
For calling on my Lady’s name
    My lips have now forgot to sing.

O Linnet in the wild-rose brake
    Strain for my Love thy melody,
O Lark sing louder for love’s sake,
    My gentle Lady passeth by.

She is too fair for any man
    To see or hold his heart’s delight,
Fairer than Queen or courtezan
    Or moon-lit water in the night.

Her hair is bound with myrtle leaves,
    (Green leaves upon her golden hair!)
Green grasses through the yellow sheaves
    Of autumn corn are not more fair.

Her little lips, more made to kiss
    Than to cry bitterly for pain,
Are tremulous as brook-water is,
    Or roses after evening rain.

Her neck is like white melilote
    Flushing for pleasure of the sun,
The throbbing of the linnet’s throat
    Is not so sweet to look upon.

As a pomegranate, cut in twain,
    White-seeded, is her crimson mouth,
Her cheeks are as the fading stain
    Where the peach reddens to the south.

O twining hands! O delicate
    White body made for love and pain!
O House of love! O desolate
    Pale flower beaten by the rain!

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!


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.