Oscar Wilde was born on 16th October 1854 in Dublin, Ireland. His parents were well known and attracted a degree of gossip for their extravagant lifestyles. In 1964, his father Wille Wilde was knighted for his services to medicine. However his pride in receiving this honour was overshadowed by an allegation of rape by one of his patients. Although never proved, it cast a shadow over William Wilde.
Oscar Wilde proved to be a student of great talent. He was awarded a scholarship to Trinity College Dublin. Here he studied the classics, in particular developing an interest in the Greek philosophers and the Hellenistic view of life. From Trinity College he won a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford University. He enjoyed his time in Oxford and was able to develop his poetic sensibilities and love of literature. He also became more conscious of his bisexual nature. For his increasing “feminine” dress he often received stick from more “traditional” Oxford students. He was a brilliant scholar, but also increasingly rebellious. In one academic year he got rusticated for turning up to College three weeks after the start of term. Thus, after a while he lost interest in pursuing an academic career in Oxford and moved to London. It was in London that he was able to skillfully enter into high society, soon becoming well known as a playwright and noted wit. Oscar Wilde became famous throughout London society. He was one of the early “celebrities” - in some respects he was famous for being famous. His dress was a target for satire in the cartoons, but Wilde didn’t seem to mind. In fact he learnt the art of self-publicity and seemed to revel in it, at least up until his trial in 1898.
Oscar Wilde’s trial gripped the nation, the subject matter a source of intense gossip and speculation. For his “crime” of homosexual acts, Wilde was subject to two years hard labour in Wandsworth and then Reading Gaol. It is no understatement to say this experience deeply shocked and affected the previously ebullient Wilde. In some respects he never really recovered; on his release, he left for Paris where he lived in comparative anonymity. However he retained his wit and continued to write, heavily influenced by his chastening experiences. Of these post gaol writings, his poem “Ballad of Reading Gaol" is perhaps the most well known, illustrating a new dimension to Wilde’s writing.
Although Wilde couldn’t return to his previous level of writing he developed new capacities, whilst retaining his sharp intellect. As Jonathon Fryer commented on Oscar Wilde’s final part of life he was.
The Life of Wilde was turbulent and volatile - never short of incident. It reflected his own inner paradoxes and revolutionary views. In some ways he was both a saint and sinner at the same time. Rightly or wrongly Wilde is remembered as much for his life as his writings. However he himself said. “I have put my talent into writing, my genius I have saved for living.”
Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on 30 November 1900. Different opinions are given as to the cause of the meningitis: Richard Ellmann claimed it was syphilitic; Merlin Holland, Wilde's grandson, thought this to be a misconception, noting that Wilde's meningitis followed a surgical intervention, perhaps a mastoidectomy; Wilde's physicians, Dr. Paul Cleiss and A'Court Tucker, reported that the condition stemmed from an old suppuration of the right ear (une ancienne suppuration de l'oreille droite d'ailleurs en traitement depuis plusieurs années) and did not allude to syphilis.
Lovely Lady of My Memory
My limbs are wasted with a flame, My feet are sore with travelling, For, calling on my Lady's name, My lips have now forgot to sing.
O Linnet in the wild-rose brake Strain for my Love thy melody, O Lark sing louder for love's sake, My gentle Lady passeth by.
She is too fair for any man To see or hold his heart's delight, Fairer than Queen or courtesan Or moonlit water in the night.
Her hair is bound with myrtle leaves, (Green leaves upon her golden hair!) Green grasses through the yellow sheaves Of autumn corn are not more fair.
Her little lips, more made to kiss Than to cry bitterly for pain, Are tremulous as brook-water is, Or roses after evening rain.
Her neck is like white melilote Flushing for pleasure of the sun, The throbbing of the linnet's throat Is not so sweet to look upon.
As a pomegranate, cut in twain, White-seeded, is her crimson mouth, Her cheeks are as the fading stain Where the peach reddens to the south.
O twining hands! O delicate White body made for love and pain! O House of love! O desolate Pale flower beaten by the rain!
The Ballad of Reading Gaol (Fragments).
• He did not wear his scarlet coat, For blood and wine are red, And blood and wine were on his hands When they found him with the dead, The poor dead woman whom he loved, And murdered in her bed.
• I never saw a man who looked With such a wistful eye Upon that little tent of blue Which prisoners call the sky, And at every drifting cloud that went With sails of silver by.
• I walked, with other souls in pain, Within another ring, And was wondering if the man had done A great or little thing, When a voice behind me whispered low, “That fellow’s got to swing.”
• Dear Christ! the very prison walls Suddenly seemed to reel, And the sky above my head became Like a casque of scorching steel; And, though I was a soul in pain, My pain I could not feel.
• I only knew what haunted thought Quickened his step, and why He looked upon the garish day With such a wistful eye; The man had killed the thing he loved, And so he had to die.
• Yet each man kills the thing he loves, By each let this be heard, Some do it with a bitter look, Some with a flattering word, The coward does it with a kiss, The brave man with a sword!
• Some kill their love when they are young, And some when they are old; Some strangle with the hands of Lust, Some with the hands of Gold: The kindest use a knife, because The dead so soon grow cold.
• Some love too little, some too long, Some sell, and others buy; Some do the deed with many tears, And some without a sigh: For each man kills the thing he loves, Yet each man does not die.
*THESE ARE JUST SOME OF OSCAR WILDE'S POEMS*
"A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."
"A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally."
"A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament."
"Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much."
"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."
"Art never expresses anything but itself."
"Everything is dangerous, my dear fellow. If it wasn't so, life wouldn't be worth living."
"Pleasure is Nature’s test, her sign of approval. When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and his environment."
"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Sources of Information
The post is made up of the author's original content, or is a compliation of material from various places.