Friday, 1 February 2008

Wilde's Impression du Matin

Oscar Wilde's most famous poem is the 'Ballad of Reading Gaol'. Some critics have claimed, perhaps tongue in cheek, that it was the only decent poem that Wilde wrote. Poet-in-Residence is not of that school. The poem 'Impression du Matin', suffering from its pretentious title, is one of Wilde's better short pieces and certainly merits our indulgence.

Impression du Matin

The Thames nocturne of blue and gold
Changed to a harmony in grey:
A barge with ochre-coloured hay
Dropt from the wharf: and chill and cold

The yellow fog came creeping down
The bridges, till the houses' walls
Seemed changed to shadows and St Paul's
Loomed like a bubble o'er the town.

Then suddenly arose the clang
Of waking life; the streets were stirred
With country waggons: and a bird
Flew to the glistening roofs and sang.

But one pale woman all alone,
The daylight kissing her wan hair,
Loitered beneath the gas lamps' flare,
With lips of flame and heart of stone.

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