More famously known for his plays and philosophical novels, Oscar Wilde created a masterpiece in the form of “To My Wife” where he illustrated his profound belief of art, and the fact that it should exist for its own sake, in a beautifully illustrated piece where he spoke about his beloved.
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To My Wife – With a Copy of My Poems
BY OSCAR WILDE
I can write no stately proem
As a prelude to my lay;
From a poet to a poem
I would dare to say.
For if of these fallen petals
One to you seem fair,
Love will waft it till it settles
On your hair.
And when wind and winter harden
All the loveless land,
It will whisper of the garden,
You will understand.
Analysis of Wilde’s “To My Wife – With A Copy Of My Poems”
“To My Wife” is a poem consisting of three separate movements, having the rhyme scheme ABAB; the verse inadvertently mimicking the Elizabethan sonnet form due to lack of iambic pentameter. There is a partial chance that the poem is actually a deep inside joke between the husband and the wife, who are the key characters of the poem. The three-movement led poem is a little more than a footnote, making a subtle remark about the poem itself.
In the first movement, the speaker opens the poem with a remark that he fails to structure a fancy introduction to the poem, thus offering a very simple little number instead. The poet strongly believes that it would be very awkward to go out of character and speak to his own poem.
In the second movement, he feels that using his poem with plant metaphors works as a double-edged sword. That is, it both flatters and diminishes his efforts. Showing his skill at shapeshifting between the metaphoric and the mundane, the poet illustrates how he wants the petals of his poem to waft and land on the hair of his beloved, provided she finds the poems to love.
Here, the readers will experience a subtle dilemma that the poet has provided with the metaphoric comparisons of his poem with flower parts. The poet wants his wife to love, at least some, of his efforts, colorfully labelling his verses, and placing them in the mind of his beloved. The poet stays positive even though there is a chance that his wife’s idea of a lovable poem might be very different, meaning, all his efforts for his wife might go in vain.
In the third movement, the poet claims that when all is winter-hardened and bleak, his poem will continue to speak to his wife of summer and spring, which is portrayed in rather a poetic vein, emphasizing again on plant metaphors dramatizing his wife’s comprehension.