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Symphony in Yellow -- Oscar Wilde

(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.
-- Oscar Wilde
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.


32 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Sitaram Iyer said...

In such misty sleep-deprived dawn, I can almost reach out and touch this
three-dimensional oil-painting of a poem, and sense the Symphony about it.


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