Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Oscar Wilde - Come to my Party

If I could host a gathering of people from bygone times, Oscar Wilde would be way up at the top of my guest list. I would sit him next to me for a good while so I could hang on to his every word and hope that his brilliance and wit might rub off on me. Eventually, I would have to set him free to mingle amongst my other guests and allow him to entertain, as is his nature. Sometimes, I’m quite sure I belong to Victorian times. I enjoy the written work of Oscar Wilde. I prefer his plays to his poetry and best of all, his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

A decade ago, I visited Dublin with a small group of fellow writers. It was just four of us and amusing to us that we were English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish, gone to Ireland to see a play by a Russian, (The Three Sisters by Chekhov at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre) and a film about Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, ‘The Edge of Love’, which had just released. We packed a lot of literary based interest into our three day adventure and spent as much time as possible in the fascinating Dublin Writers Museum. I enjoyed everything we did and everywhere we went. My personal highlight was going to Merrion Square and seeing the birthplace of Oscar Wilde then spending ages in complete wonder at Danny Osborne’s 1997 sculpture.

This is my own photograph, one of many taken that afternoon. I thought the statue was painted, but the colours come from the different materials used by the sculptor. The torso is made from nephrite jade and pink thulite, the legs from blue pearl granite from Norway and the head was originally porcelain but replaced by white jadeite when the porcelain showed early signs of cracking. The Trinity College tie is made of porcelain. The stone he is placed on is quartz from Wicklow.

Oscar Wilde read Classics at Trinity College, Dublin then continued at Magdalen College Oxford where he gained a double first in his B.A. of Classical Moderations and Literae Humaniores.

It is well documented that Wilde led a ‘scandalous lifestyle’ for which he served time in prison. Last year, he and others were posthumously pardoned for committing homosexual acts which were no longer offences.

To me, he was a great writer, with nothing to declare except his genius.
John Betjeman's poem,

The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel
He sipped at a weak hock and seltzer
As he gazed at the London skies
Through the Nottingham lace of the curtains
Or was it his bees-winged eyes?
To the right and before him Pont Street
Did tower in her new built red,
As hard as the morning gaslight
That shone on his unmade bed.
‘I want some more hock in my seltzer,
And Robbie, please give me your hand -
Is this the end or beginning?
How can I understand?
‘So you’ve brought me the latest Yellow Book:
And Buchan has got in it now:
Approval of what is approved of
Is as false as a well-kept vow.
‘More hock, Robbie – where is the seltzer?
Dear boy, pull again at the bell!
They are all little better than cretins,
Though this is the Cadogan Hotel.
‘One astrakhan coat is at Willis’s –
Another one’s at the Savoy:
Do fetch my morocco portmanteau,
And bring them on later, dear boy.’
A thump, and a murmur of voices –
(‘Oh why must they make such a din?’)
As the door of the bedroom swung open
And two plain clothes policemen came in:
‘Mr Woilde, we ‘ave come for tew take yew
Where felons and criminals dwell:
We must ask yew tew leave with us quoietly
For this is the Cadogan Hotel.’
He rose, and he put down The Yellow Book.
He staggered – and, terrible-eyed,
He brushed past the palms on the staircase
And was helped to a hansom outside.
                         John Betjeman
 Thanks for reading, Pam x



Steve Rowland said...

Interesting blog, Pam. It sounds like a great trip to Dublin.