CELT document E850003-098


Oscar Wilde

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  1. Nay, let us walk from fire unto fire,
    From passionate pain to deadlier delight,—
    I am too young to live without desire,
    Too young art thou to waste this summer night
    Asking those idle questions which of old
    Man sought of seer and oracle, and no reply was told.
  2. For, sweet, to feel is better than to know,
    And wisdom is a childless heritage,
    One pulse of passion—youth's first fiery glow,—
    Are worth the hoarded proverbs of the sage:
    Vex not thy soul with dead philosophy,
    Have we not lips to kiss with, hearts to love and eyes to see!
  3. Dost thou not hear the murmuring nightingale,
    Like water bubbling from a silver jar,
    So soft she sings the envious moon is pale,
    That high in heaven she is hung so far
    She cannot hear that love-enrapturerd tune,—
    Mark how she wreathes each horn with mist, yon late and labouring moon.
  4. White lilies, in whose cups the gold bees dream,
    The fallen snow of petals where the breeze
    Scatters the chestnut blossom, or the gleam
    Of boyish limbs in water,—are not these
    Enough for thee, dost thou desire more?
    Alas! the Gods will give nought else from their eternal store.
  5. For our high Gods have sick and wearied grown
    Of all our endless sins, our vain endeavour
    For wasted days of youth to make atone
    By pain or prayer or priest, and never, never,
    Hearken they now to either good or ill,
    But send their rain upon the just and the unjust at will.
  6. They sit at ease, our Gods they sit at ease,
    Strewing their leaves of rose their scented wine,
    They sleep, they sleep, beneath the rocking trees
    Where asphodel and yellow lotus twine,
    Mourning the old glad days before they knew
    What evil things the heart of man could dream, and dreaming do.
  7.  p.769
  8. And far beneath the brazen floor they see
    Like swarming flies the crowd of little men,
    The bustle of small lives, then wearily
    Back to their lotus-haunts they turn again
    Kissing each others' mouths, and mix more deep
    The poppy-seeded draught which brings soft purple-ridded sleep.
  9. There all day long the golden-vestured sun,
    Their torch-bearer, stands with his torch ablaze
    And, when the gaudy web of noon is spun
    By its twelve maidens, through the crimson haze
    Fresh from Endymion's arms comes forth the moon
    And the immortal Gods in toils of mortal passions swoon.
  10. There walks Queen Juno through some dewy mead,
    Her grand white feet flecked with the saffron dust
    Of wind-stirred lilies, while young Ganymede
    Leaps in the hot and amber-foaming must
    His curls all tossed, as when the eagle bare
    The frightened boy from Ida through the blue Ionian air.
  11. There in the green heart of some garden close
    Queen Venus with the shepherd at her side,
    Her warm soft body like the briar rose
    Which would be white yet blushes at its pride,
    Laughs low for love, till jealous Salmacis
    Peers through the myrtle-leaves and sighs for pain of lonely bliss.
  12. There never does that dreary north-wind blow
    Which leaves our English forests bleak and bare
    Nor ever falls the swift white-feathered snow,
    Nor ever cloth the red-toothed lightning dare
    To wake them in the silver-fretted night
    When we lie weeping for some sweet sad sin, some dead delight.
  13. Alas! they know the far Lethæan spring
    The violet-hidden waters well they know,
    Where one whose feet with tired wandering
    Are faint and broken may take heart and go,
    And from those dark depths cool and crystalline
    Drink, and draw balm, and sleep for sleepless souls, and anodyne.
  14. But we oppress our natures, God or Fate
    Is our enemy. we starve and feed
    On vain repentance—O we are born too late!
    What balm for us in bruisèd poppy seed
    Who crowd into one finite pulse of time
    The joy of infinite love and the fierce pain of infinite crime.
  15.  p.770
  16. O we are wearied of this sense of guilt,
    Wearied of pleasure's paramour despair,
    Wearied of every temple we have built,
    Wearied of every right, unanswered prayer,
    For man is weak; God sleeps; and heaven is high;
    One fiery-coloured moment: one great love; and lo! we die.
  17. Ah! but no ferry-man with labouring pole
    Nears his black shallop to the flowerless strand,
    No little coin of bronze can bring the soul
    Over Death's river to the sunless land,
    Victim and wine and vow are all in vain,
    The tomb is sealed; the soldiers watch; the dead rise not again.
  18. We are resolved into the supreme air,
    We are made one with what we touch and see,
    With our heart's blood each crimson sun is fair,
    With our young lives each spring-impassioned tree
    Flames into green, the wildest beasts that range
    The moor our kinsmen are, all life is one, and all is change.
  19. With beat of systole and of diastole
    One grand great life throbs through earth's giant heart,
    And mighty waves of single Being roll
    From nerveless germ to man, for we are part
    Of every rock and bird and beast and hill,
    One with the things that prey on us, and one with what we kill.
  20. From lower cells of waking life we pass
    To full perfection; thus the world grows old:
    We who are godlike now were once a mass
    Of quivering purple flecked with bars of gold,
    Unsentient or of joy or misery,
    And tossed in terrible tangles of some wild and wind-swept sea.
  21. This hot hard flame with which our bodies burn
    Will make some meadow blaze with daffodil,
    Ay! and those argent breasts of shine will turn
    To water-lilies; the brown fields men till
    Will be more fruitful for our love to-night,
    Nothing is lost in nature, all things live in Death's despite.
  22. The boy's first kiss, the hyacinth's first bell,
    The man's last passion, and the last red spear
    That from the lily leaps, the asphodel
    Which will not let its blossoms blow for fear
    Of too much beauty, and the timid shame
    Of the young bridegroom at his lover's eyes,—these with the same
  23.  p.771
  24. One sacrament are consecrate, the earth
    Not we alone hath passions hymeneal,
    The yellow buttercups that shake for mirth
    At daybreak know a pleasure not less real
    Than we do, when in some fresh-blossoming wood
    We draw the spring into our hearts, and feel that life is good.
  25. So when men bury us beneath the yew
    Thy crimson-stainèd mouth a rose will be,
    And thy soft eyes lush bluebells dimmed with dew,
    And when the white narcissus wantonly
    Kisses the wind its playmate some faint joy
    Will thrill our dust, and we will be again fond maid and boy.
  26. And thus without life's conscious torturing pain
    In some sweet flower we will feel the sun,
    And from the linnet's throat will sing again,
    And as two gorgeous-mailèd snakes will run
    Over our graves, or as two tigers creep
    Through the hot jungle where the yellow-eyed huge lions sleep
  27. And give them battle! How my heart leaps up
    To think of that grand living after death
    In beast and bird and flower, when this cup,
    Being filled too full of spirit, bursts for breath
    And with the pale leaves of some autumn day
    The soul earth's earliest conqueror becomes earth's last great prey.
  28. O think of it! We shall inform ourselves
    Into all sensuous life, the goat-foot Faun
    The Centaur, or the merry bright-eyed Elves
    That leave their dancing rings to spite the dawn
    Upon the meadows, shall not be more near
    Than you and I to nature's mysteries, for we shall hear
  29. The thrush's heart beat, and the daisies grow,
    And the wan snowdrop sighing for the sun
    On sunless days in winter, we shall know
    By whom the silver gossamer is spun,
    Who paints the diapered fritillaries,
    On what wide wings rrom shivering pine to pine the eagle flies.
  30. Ay! had we never loved at all, who knows
    If yonder daffodil had lured the bee
    Into its gilded womb, or any rose
    Had hung with crimson lamps its little tree!
    Methinks no leaf would ever bud in spring
    But for the lovers' lips that kiss, the poets' iips that sing.
  31.  p.772
  32. Is the light vanished from our golden sun,
    Or is this dædal-fashioned earth less fair,
    That we are nature's heritors, and one
    With every pulse of life that beats the air?
    Rather new suns across the sky shall pass,
    New splendour come unto the flower, new glory to the grass.
  33. And we two lovers shall not sit afar,
    Critics of nature, but the joyous sea
    Shall be our raiment, and the bearded star
    Shoot arrows at our pleasure! We shall be
    Part of the mighty universal whole,
    And through all æons mix and mingle with the Kosmic Soul!
  34. We shall be notes in that great Symphony
    Whose cadence circles through the rhythmic spheres,
    And all the live World's throbbing heart shall be
    One with our heart; the stealthy creeping years
    Have lost their terrors now, we shall not die,
    The Universe itself shall be our Immortality.

Document details

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Title statement

Title (uniform): Panthea

Author: Oscar Wilde

Responsibility statement

Electronic edition compiled and proof-read by: Margaret Lantry

Funded by: University College, Cork

Edition statement

2. Second draft.

Extent: 2505 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: 2010

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

CELT document ID: E850003-098

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 (ed), The Artist as Critic: Critical Writings of Oscar Wilde (Chicago 1982).
  4. 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).
  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). ‘Panthea’. In: The Works of Oscar Wilde‍. London: Galley Press, pp. 768–772.

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

  author 	 = {Oscar Wilde},
  title 	 = {Panthea},
  booktitle 	 = {The Works of Oscar Wilde},
  address 	 = {London},
  publisher 	 = {Galley Press},
  date 	 = {1987},
  pages 	 = {768-772}


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Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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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. 2010-12-01: File updated; conversion script run; new wordcount made. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2009-10-27: Keywords added. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2005-08-25: Normalised language codes and edited langUsage for XML conversion (ed. Julianne Nyhan)
  4. 2005-08-04T14:29:13+0100: Converted to XML (conversion Peter Flynn)
  5. 1997-10-24: Text parsed using SGMLS. (ed. Margaret Lantry)
  6. 1997-10-24: Text proofed; structural mark-up inserted. (ed. Margaret Lantry)
  7. 1997-10-23: Text captured by scanning. (ed. Margaret Lantry)
  8. 1997-10-: Header created. (ed. Margaret Lantry)

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