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The Best Oscar Wilde Poems Everyone Should Read

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

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Who Said, ‘I am not young enough to know everything’?

The origins of a famous quip – in a half-forgotten work of literature

This should be an easy question. Surely it was Oscar Wilde who first said, ‘I am not young enough to know everything’? It certainly sounds like one of Wilde’s witty quotations, and numerous quotation sites (see, for instance, here and here) attribute the line to Wilde, but the attribution predates the web, with James Scott’s Daily Writing Journal in 1987 giving Wilde as the author. But it appears the issue is a little more complicated than that. And the true origins of this quotation lie in a play by a writer best-known for a work of children’s literature. Read the rest of this entry

10 Great Quotes from Oscar Wilde

Perhaps ‘Oscar Wilde’ and ‘quotes’ is a marriage made in literary heaven. He is eminently quotable, which has made choosing Oscar Wilde’s ten best quotes that much more difficult. Difficult, but fun. After looking through the literary library here at Interesting Literature we can now bring you our ten favourite Wildean one-liners!

I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying. – ‘The Remarkable Rocket’

The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame. – The Picture of Dorian Gray

To be really medieval one should have no body. To be really modern one should have no soul. To be really Greek one should have no clothes. – ‘A Few Maxims for the Instruction of the Over-Educated’

Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do. – ‘The Remarkable Rocket’

The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul? – De Profundis

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No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. – ‘The Decay of Lying’

When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers. – An Ideal Husband

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. – ‘The Critic as Artist’

I love acting. It is so much more real than life. – The Picture of Dorian Gray

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. – De Profundis

If you enjoyed this pick of ten of Oscar Wilde’s best quotations, you might also enjoy these funny Oscar Wilde anecdotes.

Image: Oscar Wilde (author: anonymous), Wikimedia Commons, public domain.