Are these Oscar Wilde’s finest poems?
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was best-known for being Oscar Wilde. As is often remarked, he was one of the first modern celebrities, courting attention for his witty conversation, his flamboyant dress, and – later – his ‘scandalous’ sex life. But he was also a playwright, novelist, short-story writer, writer of charming fairy tales for children, and poet. This last one is often overlooked, with only one of this poems remaining widely known. In the following list, we pick six of Oscar Wilde’s best poems ranging from his early years at Oxford through to his years in exile in Paris.
‘Requiescat’. Its title taken from the Latin for ‘(may he or she) rest in peace’, this short poem is one of Wilde’s most understated and touching, about a dead loved one who is now buried underground. ‘All my life’s buried here, / Heap earth upon it’ is one of Wilde’s most moving poetic lines (or couple of lines) because they are simple yet heartfelt (although how sincerely they were meant it is difficult to say). Read the rest of this entry
What are the most heavenly poems in all of literature?
Who deserves a place in heaven? And what is heaven like? Contemplating the former question and imagining an answer to the latter has occupied many a poet’s mind down the ages. Here are ten of the very best poems about heaven…
Dante, The Divine Comedy. Composed in the early fourteenth century, Dante’s Divine Comedy is a trilogy of poems charting the poet’s journey from hell (Inferno) through Purgatory (Purgatorio) to heaven (Paradiso), guided by his fellow poet, Virgil. Featuring lakes of filth and farting demons, it’s much more fun than its theological subject might suggest, and it influenced a whole raft of later poets, especially T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. It’s even been called the ‘fifth Gospel’, so clearly and effectively does Dante detail the medieval view of Christianity. Specifically, the final part of the trilogy, Paradiso, is of particular interest here, where the poet is guided by his muse, Beatrice, to heaven. Read the rest of this entry
The greatest poems about music and singing
Music and poetry were once natural bedfellows, with many ‘poems’ being sung to music for entertainment at feasts and royal courts, or in local taverns. If, as Walter Pater said, all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music, then it’s little surprise that so many poets have tried to write poetry that is ‘musical’ in some sense. Here are ten of the best poems about music, song, dance, instruments, and the like.
Anonymous, ‘When the Nightingale Sings’. This medieval poem dating from the early fourteenth century begins, in Middle English, ‘When the nyhtegale singes, / The wodes waxen grene, / Lef ant gras ant blosme springes / In Averyl, Y wene’: in modern English, ‘When the nightingale sings, the woods grow green, leaf and grass and blossom spring in April, I believe’. This happens across England, ‘Bituene Lyncolne ant Lyndeseye, / Northamptoun ant Lounde’ (‘Lyndesey’ or Lindsey probably refers to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the north of England, what is now East Yorkshire).