CELT document E850003-028

Ave Imperatrix

Oscar Wilde

Whole text



  1. Set in this stormy Northern sea,
    Queen of these restless fields of tide,
    England! what shall men say of thee,
    Before whose feet the worlds divide?
  2. The earth, a brittle globe of glass,
    Lies in the hollow of thy hand,
    And through its heart of crystal pass,
    Like shadows through a twilight land,
  3. The spears of crimson-suited war,
    The long white-crested waves of fight,
    And all the deadly fires which are
    The torches of the lords of Night.
  4. The yellow leopards, strained and lean,
    The treacherous Russian knows so well,
    With gaping blackened jaws are seen
    Leap through the hail of screaming shell.
  5. The strong sea-lion of England's wars
    Hath left his sapphire cave of sea,
    To battle with the storm that mars
    The star of England's chivalry.
  6. The brazen-throated clarion blows
    Across the Pathan's reedy fen,
    And the high steeps of Indian snows
    Shake to the tread of armèd men.
  7. And many an Afghan chief, who lies
    Beneath his cool pomegranate-trees,
    Clutches his sword in fierce surmise
    When on the mountain-side he sees
  8. The fleet-foot Marri scout, who comes
    To tell how he hath heard afar
    The measured roll of English drums
    Beat at the gates of Kandahar.
  9. For southern wind and east wind meet
    Where, girt and crowned by sword and fire,
    England with bare and bloody feet
    Climbs the steep road of wide empire.
  10.  p.695
  11. O lonely Himalayan height,
    Grey pillar of the Indian sky,
    Where saw'st thou last in clanging fight
    Our wingèd dogs of Victory?
  12. The almond groves of Samarcand,
    Bokhara, where red lilies blow,
    And Oxus, by whose yellow sand
    The grave white-turbaned merchants go:
  13. And on from thence to Ispahan,
    The gilded garden of the sun,
    Whence the long dusty caravan
    Brings cedar and vermilion;
  14. And that dread city of Cabool
    Set at the mountain's scarpèd feet,
    Whose marble tanks are ever full
    With water for the noonday heat:
  15. Where through the narrow straight Bazaar
    A little maid Circassian
    Is led, a present from the Czar
    Unto some old and bearded khan,—
  16. Here have our wild war-eagles flown,
    And flapped wide wings in fiery fight;
    But the sad dove, that sits alone
    In England—she hath no delight.
  17. In vain the laughing girl will lean
    To greet her love with love-lit eyes:
    Down in some treacherous black ravine,
    Clutching his flag, the dead boy lies.
  18. And many a moon and sun will see
    The lingering wistful children wait
    To climb upon their father's knee;
    And in each house made desolate
  19. Pale women who have lost their lord
    Will kiss the relics of the slain—
    Some tarnished epaulette—some sword—
    Poor toys to soothe such anguished pain.
  20. For not in quiet English fields
    Are these, our brothers, lain to rest, p.696
    Where we might deck their broken shields
    With all the flowers the dead love best.
  21. For some are by the Delhi walls,
    And many in the Afghan land,
    And many where the Ganges falls
    Through seven mouths of shifting sand.
  22. And some in Russian waters lie,
    And others in the seas which are
    The portals to the East, or by
    The wind-swept heights of Trafalgar.
  23. O wandering graves! O restless sleep!
    O silence of the sunless day!
    O still ravine! O stormy deep!
    Give up your prey! Give up your prey!
  24. And thou whose wounds are never healed,
    Whose weary race is never won,
    O Cromwell's England! must thou yield
    For every inch of ground a son?
  25. Go! crown with thorns thy gold-crowned head,
    Change thy glad song to song of pain;
    Wind and wild wave have got thy dead,
    And will not yield them back again.
  26. Wave and wild wind and foreign shore
    Possess the flower of English land—
    Lips that thy lips shall kiss no more,
    Hands that shall never clasp thy hand.
  27. What profit now that we have bound
    The whole round world with nets of gold,
    If hidden in our heart is found
    The care that groweth never old?
  28. What profit that our galleys ride,
    Pine-forest-like, on every main?
    Ruin and wreck are at our side,
    Grim warders of the House of Pain.
  29. Where are the brave, the strong, the fleet?
    Where is our English chivalry?
    Wild grasses are their burial-sheet,
    And sobbing waves their threnody.
  30.  p.697
  31. O loved ones lying far away,
    What word of love can dead lips send!
    O wasted dust! O senseless clay!
    Is this the end! is this the end!
  32. Peace, peace! we wrong the noble dead
    To vex their solemn slumber so;
    Though childless, and with thorn-crowned head,
    Up the steep road must England go
  33. Yet when this fiery web is spun,
    Her watchmen shall descry from far
    The young Republic like a sun
    Rise from these crimson seas of war.

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Title statement

Title (uniform): Ave Imperatrix

Author: Oscar Wilde

Responsibility statement

Electronic edition compiled by: Donnchadh Ó Corráin

Funded by: University College, Cork

Edition statement

1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Responsibility statement

Proof corrections by: Margaret Lantry and Donnchadh Ó Corráin

Extent: 1940 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 1997

Date: 2008

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E850003-028

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Notes statement

There is not as yet an authoritative edition of Wilde's works.

Source description

Select editions

  1. The writings of Oscar Wilde (London; New York: A. R. Keller & Co. 1907) 15 vols.
  2. Robert Ross (ed), The First Collected Edition of the Works of Oscar Wilde (London: Methuen & Co. 1908). 15 vols. Reprinted Dawsons: Pall Mall 1969.
  3. Complete works of Oscar Wilde (Glasgow: HarperCollins, 1994).

Select bibliography

  1. 'Notes for a bibliography of Oscar Wilde', Books and book-plates (A quarterly for collectors) 5, no. 3 (April 1905), 170-183.
  2. Karl E. Beckson, The Oscar Wilde encyclopedia (New York: AMS Press 1998). AMS Studies in the nineteenth century 18.
  3. Richard Ellmann; John Espey, Oscar Wilde: two approaches: papers read at a Clark Library seminar, April 17, 1976 (Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California 1977).
  4. Richard Ellmann (ed), The Artist as Critic: Critical Writings of Oscar Wilde (Chicago 1982).
  5. Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde at Oxford: a lecture delivered at the Library of Congress on March 1, 1983 (Washington, DC: Library of Congress 1984).
  6. Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde: a biography (London: Hamilton 1987).
  7. Juliet Gardiner, Oscar Wilde: a life in letters, writings and wit (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1995).
  8. Frank Harris, Oscar Wilde, including My memories of Oscar Wilde, by George Bernard Shaw and an introductory note by Lyle Blair (London: Robinson, 1992).
  9. Rupert Hart-Davis (ed), Selected letters of Oscar Wilde (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1979).
  10. Rupert Hart-Davis (ed), More letters of Oscar Wilde (London: Murray 1985).
  11. Vyvyan Beresford Holland, Oscar Wilde: a pictorial biography (London: Thames & Hudson 1960).
  12. H. Montgomery Hyde, Oscar Wilde: a biography (London: Methuen 1977).
  13. Andrew McDonnell, Oscar Wilde at Oxford: an annotated catalogue of Wilde manuscripts and related items at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, including many hitherto unpublished letters, photographs and illustrations (A. McDonnell 1996). Limited edition of 170 copies.
  14. Stuart Mason, Bibliography of Oscar Wilde (London: E. G. Richards 1907). Also pubd. New York 1908, London 1914 in 2 vols. Repr. of 1914 edition: New York: Haskell House 1972.
  15. E. H. Mikhail, Oscar Wilde: an annotated bibliography of criticism (London: Macmillan 1978). Also pubd. Totowa NJ: Rowman & Littlefield 1978.
  16. Thomas A. Mikolyzk, Oscar Wilde: an annotated bibliography (Westport CT: Greenwood Press 1993). Bibliographies and indexes in world literature, 38.
  17. Norman Page, An Oscar Wilde chronology (London: Macmillan 1991).
  18. Hesketh Pearson, A Life of Oscar Wilde (London 1946).
  19. Richard Pine, The thief of reason: Oscar Wilde and modern Ireland (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1996).
  20. Horst Schroeder, Additions and corrections to Richard Ellmann's Oscar Wilde (Braunschweig: H. Schroeder 1989).

The edition used in the digital edition

Wilde, Oscar (1987). ‘Ave Imperatrix’. In: The Works of Oscar Wilde‍. London: Galley Press, pp. 694–697.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  author 	 = {Oscar Wilde},
  title 	 = {Ave Imperatrix},
  booktitle 	 = {The Works of Oscar Wilde},
  address 	 = {London},
  publisher 	 = {Galley Press},
  date 	 = {1987},
  pages 	 = {694–697}


Encoding description

Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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All the editorial text with the corrections of the editor has been retained.

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Correction: Text has been checked, proof-read and parsed using SGMLS.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text.

Hyphenation: The editorial practice of the hard-copy editor has been retained.

Segmentation: div0=the whole text.

Interpretation: Names of persons (given names), and places are not tagged. Terms for cultural and social roles are not tagged.

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Profile description

Creation: By Oscar Wilde (1854–1900).

Date: 1881

Language usage

  • The text is in English. (en)

Keywords: literary; poetry; 19c

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2010-09-08: Conversion script run; new SGML and HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2008-07-31: Keywords added; file validated. Minor changes made to header; new wordcount made. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2005-08-25: Normalised language codes and edited langUsage for XML conversion (ed. Julianne Nyhan)
  4. 2005-08-04T14:26:26+0100: Converted to XML (conversion Peter Flynn)
  5. 1997-10-23: Text parsed using SGMLS. (ed. Margaret Lantry)
  6. 1997-10-21: Text proofed; structural mark-up improved. (ed. Margaret Lantry)
  7. 1997-10-13: Header created. (ed. Margaret Lantry)
  8. 1997: Text proofed; structural mark-up inserted. (ed. Donnchadh Ó Corráin)
  9. 1997: Text captured. (ed. Donnchadh Ó Corráin)

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