Oscar Wilde

Here you will find the Long Poem The Burden Of Itys of poet Oscar Wilde

The Burden Of Itys

THIS English Thames is holier far than Rome,
 Those harebells like a sudden flush of sea
 Breaking across the woodland, with the foam
 Of meadow-sweet and white anemone
 To fleck their blue waves,--God is likelier there,
 Than hidden in that crystal-hearted star the pale monks bear!

 Those violet-gleaming butterflies that take
 Yon creamy lily for their pavilion
 Are monsignores, and where the rushes shake
 A lazy pike lies basking in the sun
 His eyes half-shut,--He is some mitred old
 Bishop in partibus! look at those gaudy scales all green and gold.

 The wind the restless prisoner of the trees
 Does well for Palæstrina, one would say
 The mighty master's hands were on the keys
 Of the Maria organ, which they play
 When early on some sapphire Easter morn
 In a high litter red as blood or sin the Pope is borne

 From his dark House out to the Balcony
 Above the bronze gates and the crowded square,
 Whose very fountains seem for ecstasy
 To toss their silver lances in the air,
 And stretching out weak hands to East and West
 In vain sends peace to peaceless lands, to restless nations rest.

 Is not yon lingering orange afterglow
 That stays to vex the moon more fair than all
 Rome's lordliest pageants! strange, a year ago
 I knelt before some crimson Cardinal
 Who bare the Host across the Esquiline,
 And now--those common poppies in the wheat seem twice as fine.

 The blue-green beanfields yonder, tremulous
 With the last shower, sweeter perfume bring
 Through this cool evening than the odorous
 Flame-jewelled censers the young deacons swing,
 When the grey priest unlocks the curtained shrine,
 And makes God's body from the common fruit of corn and vine.

 Poor Fra Giovanni bawling at the mass
 Were out of tune now, for a small brown bird
 Sings overhead, and through the long cool grass
 I see that throbbing throat which once I heard
 On starlit hills of flower-starred Arcady,
 Once where the white and crescent sand of Salamis meets sea.

 Sweet is the swallow twittering on the eaves
 At daybreak, when the mower whets his scythe,
 And stock-doves murmur, and the milkmaid leaves
 Her little lonely bed, and carols blithe
 To see the heavy-lowing cattle wait
 Stretching their huge and dripping mouths across the farmyard gate.

 And sweet the hops upon the Kentish leas,
 And sweet the wind that lifts the new-mown hay,
 And sweet the fretful swarms of grumbling bees
 That round and round the linden blossoms play;
 And sweet the heifer breathing in the stall,
 And the green bursting figs that hang upon the red-brick wall.

 And sweet to hear the cuckoo mock the spring
 While the last violet loiters by the well,
 And sweet to hear the shepherd Daphnis sing
 The song of Linus through a sunny dell
 Of warm Arcadia where the corn is gold
 And the slight lithe-limbed reapers dance about the wattled fold.

 And sweet with young Lycoris to recline
 In some Illyrian valley far away,
 Where canopied on herbs amaracine
 We too might waste the summer-trancèd day
 Matching our reeds in sportive rivalry,
 While far beneath us frets the troubled purple of the sea.

 But sweeter far if silver-sandalled foot
 Of some long-hidden God should ever tread
 The Nuneham meadows, if with reeded flute
 Pressed to his lips some Faun might raise his head
 By the green water-flags, ah! sweet indeed
 To see the heavenly herdsman call his white-fleeced flock to feed.

 Then sing to me thou tuneful chorister,
 Though what thou sing'st be thine own requiem!
 Tell me thy tale thou hapless chronicler
 Of thine own tragedies! do not contemn
 These unfamiliar haunts, this English field,
 For many a lovely coronal our northern isle can yield,

 Which Grecian meadows know not, many a rose,
 Which all day long in vales Æolian
 A lad might seek in vain for, overgrows
 Our hedges like a wanton courtezan
 Unthrifty of her beauty, lilies too
 Ilissus never mirrored star our streams, and cockles blue

 Dot the green wheat which, though they are the signs
 For swallows going south, would never spread
 Their azure tents between the Attic vines;
 Even that little weed of ragged red,
 Which bids the robin pipe, in Arcady
 Would be a trespasser, and many an unsung elegy

 Sleeps in the reeds that fringe our winding Thames
 Which to awake were sweeter ravishment
 Than ever Syrinx wept for, diadems
 Of brown bee-studded orchids which were meant
 For Cytheræa's brows are hidden here
 Unknown to Cytheræa, and by yonder pasturing steer

 There is a tiny yellow daffodil,
 The butterfly can see it from afar,
 Although one summer evening's dew could fill
 Its little cup twice over ere the star
 Had called the lazy shepherd t