Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Duke Altum's Poem of the Week #14

This week's offering comes from Oscar Wilde, the famous (and infamous) playwright, essayist, poet and critic. Wilde of course is well known for his wit, flambouyant dandyism and sexual scandal within the gilded milieu of Victorian England... but what is lesser known about him was his life-long interest in and flirtation with Christianity, which culminated with his death-bed conversion to Roman Catholicism. In the midst of his public humiliation and imprisonment on charges of sexual misconduct and indecency, Wilde turned to writing poetry to express his despair, loneliness and spiritual yearning -- and it is during this agonizing time of his life that he produced some of his most profound, striking and deeply moving poetry. 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' is his most widely known and justly celebrated poem from this period, but I find this one to be quite profound as well. At the deepest level, it seems to me, all of our souls are crying out in a manner similar to the one expressed so eloquently here.


E Tenebris

COME down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy hand,
For I am drowning in a stormier sea
Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee:
The wine of life is spilt upon the sand,
My heart is as some famine-murdered land,
Whence all good things have perished utterly,
And well I know my soul in Hell must lie
If I this night before God’s throne should stand.
“He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase,
Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name
From morn to noon on Carmel’s smitten height.”
Nay, peace, I shall behold before the night,
The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame,
The wounded hands, the weary human face.

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