(Poem #992) Symphony in Yellow
An omnibus across the bridge Crawls like a yellow butterfly, And, here and there, a passer-by Shows like a little restless midge. Big barges full of yellow hay Are moored against the shadowy wharf, And, like a yellow silken scarf, The thick fog hangs along the quay. The yellow leaves begin to fade And flutter from the Temple elms, And at my feet the pale green Thames Lies like a rod of rippled jade.
These days, Oscar Wilde is celebrated as a playwright, essayist and wit, but not as a poet. For ample reason: the monumental "Ballad of Reading Gaol" apart, most of his poetry is simply not very good. Melodramatic, pretentious and often juvenile, Wilde's verse follows that of the Pre-Raphaelites in aping many of the worst excesses of the Romantics. That said, there are times when Wilde gets it right, and "Symphony in Yellow" is one of them. It's a beautifully Impressionistic poem, almost a painting; note how there is no real action, just description. Also of interest is the synaesthesia the poem engenders, in its mingling of colour and movement and spoken word. Very nicely done, and all too rare. thomas.