Blog Post #1 Gallagher

My general sensation after reading this selection of Wilde’s poems is gloomy despair. Much of the imagery was quite beautiful, but I often found the language to have ominous undertones – especially with suggestion of a hell on earth in “The House of Judgement” and with the depiction of the weeping, resurrected man in “The Doer of Good.” Both of these examples seem to imply that life is mostly filled with sorrow, and the weeping man (Doer of Good) even suggests that he preferred his state of death to the pain of living (“But I was dead once and you raised me from the dead. What else should I do but weep?”).

Beyond this seemingly cynical tone, I also noticed the theme of being enslaved to one’s momentary pleasures or passions. For example, in “The Harlot’s House, there is a tendency to refer to the shadows in the so-called “house of lust” in terms of mechanical language (ex: mechanical grotesques, wire-pulled automatons, clockwork-puppet, horrible marionette, wheel, whir etc…). This choice in language may suggest that, like a puppet or robot, the revelers lack agency and are controlled by some other greater power (here: the potential culprit is lust). Additionally, in “The Artist,” the protagonist is influenced by an intense and spontaneous desire to create a statue dedicated to “The Pleasure that abideth for a Moment.” This inspiration to create initially seems harmless enough; however, the reader later learns that he can only form this new sculpture by destroying his previous work, which appears to hold a great sentimental value to the artist because it honors his long-dead friend. The artist chooses to sacrifice his previous statue, and the new sculpture might symbolize how momentary pleasure led this man to incinerate this “sign of love” despite its value to him. Strangely, in this case and in many of the other poems, Wilde appears to offer contradictory indications of the positive or negative impact of these dominant passions on humanity. As a result, I am excited to discuss this topic in class in order to see if we can better understand this complex issue.

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