`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!' A powerful poem of universal guilt and a protest against capital punishment, The Ballad of Reading Gaol is Wilde's best-known poem, yet it is quite unlike the rest of his poetry.
At Oxford Wilde discarded the passion and politics of his mother's Irish nationalistic anti-famine poetry and opted to follow an English Romantic tradition, paying tribute to Keats, Swinburne, and the Pre-Raphaelites.
Admiration of French masters gradually led to his writing Impressionist, even decadent poemsand his collection Poems (1881) brought accusations of obscenity and plagiarism as well as scathing reviews.
Unabashed, Wilde revised and reprinted his final `Author's Edition' in 1892, by which time he was the successful author of fiction, criticism, and Lady Windermere's Fan. This volume follows as closely as possible the chronological order of composition, highlighting autobiographical elements including the young Wilde's conflicting attitudes to Greece and Rome, pagan and Christian, and his fluctuating attraction to Roman Catholicism.
The Appendix shows Wilde's original ordering, constructed with great care around a `musical' arrangement of themes.
The poems reveal unexpected aspects of a literary chameleon usually identified with sparkling wit and social comedy.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe.
Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.