To drift with every passion till my soul Is a stringed lute on which can winds can play, Is it for this that I have given away Mine ancient wisdom and austere control? Methinks my life is a twice-written scroll Scrawled over on some boyish holiday With idle songs for pipe and virelay, Which do but mar the secret of the whole. Surely there was a time I might have trod The sunlit heights, and from life's dissonance Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God: Is that time dead? lo! with a little rod I did but touch the honey of romance - And must I lose a soul's inheritance?
Three Poems of Oscar Wilde
Song Cycle by Thomas Pasatieri (b. 1945)
1. Helas  [sung text checked 1 time]
- by Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), "Helas" [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
2. The harlot's house  [sung text checked 1 time]
We caught the tread of dancing feet, We loitered down the moonlit street, And stopped beneath the harlot's house. Inside, above the din and fray, We heard the loud musicians play The 'Treues Liebes Herz' of Strauss. Like strange mechanical grotesques, Making fantastic arabesques, The shadows raced across the blind. We watched the ghostly dancers spin To sound of horn and violin, Like black leaves wheeling in the wind. Like wire-pulled automatons, Slim silhouetted skeletons Went sidling through the slow quadrille. They took each other by the hand, And danced a stately saraband; Their laughter echoed thin and shrill. Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed A phantom lover to her breast, Sometimes they seemed to try to sing. Sometimes a horrible marionette Came out, and smoked its cigarette Upon the steps like a live thing. Then, turning to my love, I said, "The dead are dancing with the dead, The dust is whirling with the dust." But she--she heard the violin, And left my side, and entered in: Love passed into the house of Lust. Then suddenly the tune went false, The [shadows]1 wearied of the waltz, The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl. And down the long and silent street, The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet, Crept like a frightened girl.
- by Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), "The harlot's house" [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
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1 Pasatieri: "dancers"
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
3. Requiescat  [sung text checked 1 time]
Tread lightly, she is near Under the snow, Speak gently, she can hear The daisies grow. All her bright golden hair Tarnished with rust, She that was young and fair Fallen to dust. Lily-like, white as snow, She hardly knew She was a woman so Sweetly she grew. Coffin-board, heavy stone, Lie on her breast. I vex my heart alone, She is at rest. Peace, Peace, she cannot hear Lyre or sonnet, All my life's buried here, Heap earth upon it.
- by Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), "Requiescat", from Poems, first published 1881 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
See other settings of this text.Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]