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Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Oscar Wilde was one of the great wits of Irish literature in the late 19th Century. He was also persecuted for his sexuality, and was a vegetarian who loved animals. Wilde's acerbic wit often disguised his obvious sensitivity, but that sensitivity is evident in the poem, 'A Fragment'.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Vintage Classics) The Picture of Dorian Gray (Vintage Classics) ~ Oscar Wilde

Interpreting Oscar Wilde's Poem, A Fragment

A Feeling of Anxiety

The imagery in 'A Fragment' is what jumps out at the reader, notably "flagrant daffodil hair". There is also an anxiety that runs through the whole poem, which is a vivid description of missing someone.

'A Fragment' is also a very passionate poem, as the third line explodes into a heartfelt plea to come back, and, in the fifth line, "To the hearts that are sick for thee". The poet also says that the sea is "much-overrated" and that the ships are shaking. Thus, fear is being used as a persuasive way of getting the subject in the poem to come back. The poet, though, also makes himself feel sad as he thinks of a ship "that shakes on the desolate sea".

The Brighter Star

The dark mood changes momentarily when the poet says that underneath "the flag of the wan White Star, / Thou bringest a brighter star with thee". The latter line not only shows how much the poet thinks of the subject of the poem, but it is also a big compliment for the subject. Oscar Wilde also tells the reader that the traveler may have been to the Holy Land, and the Niagara River in North America. The reader is left, in the final two lines, that are repeated from earlier in the poem, with a more downbeat feeling. The penultimate line once again tells of the ship that "shakes on the desolate sea". More emphasis is given to the feeling of isolation and desolation by the final two lines being repeated.

Also notable is how the first line is repeated, but with one slight alteration, halfway through the poem. Thus, "beautiful star" becomes "beautiful stars". It's intriguing why this change should take place, and suggests that the star is an individual, and that the stars are heavenly objects.

'A Fragment' is a poem without any separate verses, and has a widely spread rhyme scheme that gives the poem a lumbering rhythm. The rhythm reflects the sense of despair in the poetry, and the use of archaic words such as "O'er" and "neath" adds to the formality of the verse.

Interpreting Oscar Wilde's Poem, Canzonet

Oscar Wilde is regarded as one of the greatest Irish literary figures of all-time. He is best-known for his wit, but his writing could also be serious, as in his poem, 'Canzonet'.

Changes in Mood

The poem, all of alternate rhyme, begins in a modest way, with the shepherd saying that he has no great wealth, but that "woodland girls / Have loved the shepherd's note." In the second verse the shepherd tries to exploit this musical appeal, and asks for the present of a reed in return for a song. He boasts about his ability to "feed / Thine ears with melody". Then he also attempts flattery.

In the third verse there are references to famous Greek mythological figures. Though sad at the death of Hyacinth, and the fact that Pan will never be seen again, the shepherd thinks that he now has power and control of the wood. The fourth and final verse shows us that the shepherd is now in a sombre mood, with the comment that Hylas, son of Theiodamas, is also dead.

'Canzonet' gets its title from a type of short song of the same name. It's definitely a mysterious poem, because of the changes in mood. As with anything Oscar Wilde ever wrote, the reader is always looking for an underlying message. He was jailed for being a homosexual in the late 19th Century, and so anything Wilde wrote would have been scrutinized by the authorities at the time.

The very abrupt changes in mood from the first verse to the second are telling. The first verse begins with someone who is modest, but then becomes gradually more confident, and overly so. The third verse then sees the shepherd as almost revelling in the death of Hyacinth and the loss of Pan, as he thinks that he will be in control of the wood. What Wilde is suggesting is that even a man with no wealth can appeal to people in other ways, but that they can then become conceited. In the final verse it dawns on the shepherd that whatever he achieves, he, like Hylas, will also die, and that the wood is not a happy place.

Mirroring Wilde's Plight

The second half of the final verse is particularly gloomy, and even the dryads no longer play. This feeling could also mirror Wilde's own plight, as he could never openly love who he wanted to for fear of persecution.

- Paul Rance/ Oscar Wilde Books

The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays: Lady Windermere's Fan; Salome; A Woman of No Importance; An Ideal Husband; The Importance of Being Earnest (Oxford World's Classics) ~ Oscar Wilde
Children's Stories by Oscar Wilde (Stephen Fry Presents) Children's Stories by Oscar Wilde (Stephen Fry Presents) ~ Oscar Wilde Oscar Wilde Books

The Importance of Being Earnest (Dover Thrift Editions)
Oscar Wilde; Paperback

Search : The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde: Stories, Plays, Poems & Essays

The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde: Stories, Plays, Poems & Essays
by: Oscar Wilde
July 01, 2008

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