Oscar Wilde

(1854-1900 / Dublin / Ireland)

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Amor Intellectualis


OFT have we trod the vales of Castaly
And heard sweet notes of sylvan music blown
From antique reeds to common folk unknown:
And often launched our bark upon that sea
Which the nine Muses hold in empery,
And ploughed free furrows through the wave and foam,
Nor spread reluctant sail for more safe home
Till we had freighted well our argosy.
Of which despoilèd treasures these remain,
Sordello's passion, and the honied line
Of young Endymion, lordly Tamburlaine
Driving his pampered jades, and more than these,
The seven-fold vision of the Florentine,
And grave-browed Milton's solemn harmonies.

Submitted: Friday, May 18, 2001
Edited: Friday, May 18, 2001

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  • Rookie - 113 Points Marques De Valia (10/12/2014 5:14:00 PM)

    this is from a time when Western intellectuals sought to recapture the spirit of the poets of antiquity.
    here wilde is praising poetry itself by invoking the classical Hellenic poetic icons. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,457 Points Douglas Scotney (10/12/2013 7:08:00 PM)

    to be sure
    I got more than Wilde
    says he did
    for my treading, hearing, launching, ploughing
    and freighting;
    hope that you did too. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 147 Points Ramesh T A (10/12/2011 3:32:00 AM)

    This poet before writing this poem has perhaps dwelt deep in the ocean of rich poems by Keats, Browning and Milton! Their deep sense of music and pastoral mood is well captured in this beautiful sonnet to immerse all in that wonderful mood ever! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 10 Points Michael Harmon (10/13/2009 3:41:00 PM)

    If Arthur Ransome was not among the 'few who understand', Albert, then may I ask what you think this 'wonderful sonnet' by a 'great poet' is all about?

    I happen to think Oscar Wilde was a great playwright and (with the Picture of Dorian Gray, and its preface by Wilde) a great novelist. But, though some of his poems are brilliant and deservedly famous, he has never been one of my poetic influences. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 10 Points Michael Harmon (10/12/2009 12:13:00 PM)

    “Doubtful of his aim in individual poems, he was doubtful of his inclinations as a poet. Nothing could more clearly illustrate this long wavering of his mind than a list of the poets whom he admired sufficiently to imitate. I have mentioned Morris, Swinburne, Arnold, and Rossetti; but these are not enough. In swift caprice he rifled a score of orchards. He very honestly confesses in 'Amor Intellectualis ' that he had often 'trod the vales of Castaly, ' sailed the sea ' which the nine Muses hold in empery, ' and never turned home unladen.

    Of which despoiled treasures these remain,
    Sordello's passion, and the honeyed line
    Of young Endymion, lordly Tamburlaine
    Driving his pampered jades, and more than these
    The seven-fold vision of the Florentine,
    And grave-browed Milton's solemn harmonies.

    Milton, Dante, Marlowe, Keats, and Browning, with those I have already named, and others, make up a goodly list of sufferers by this lighthearted corsair's piracies.”

    excerpted from:

    OSCAR WILDE: A CRITICAL STUDY
    BY
    ARTHUR RANSOME
    (NEW YORK, MITCHELL KENNERLEY, MCMXII) (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 10 Points Kevin Straw (10/12/2009 5:53:00 AM)

    'OFT have we trod the vales of Castaly/And heard sweet notes of sylvan music blown/From antique reeds to common folk unknown: /And often launched our bark upon that sea/Which the nine Muses hold in empery, /And ploughed free furrows through the wave and foam...'
    No we haven't Oscar! This is meaningless metaphor at its prosodic best. Wilde's poetry is always an exercise in being clever, showing off his poetic virtuosity and his learning. True feeling always escaped his pen, even in Reading gaol! Only a pagan steeped in his true belief in what we now call myth would understand this glittering but empty poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 10 Points Cecilia Nicoletti (3/21/2007 6:28:00 AM)

    Having a kind of intellectual love requires some intellect first.
    Oscar Wilde seems to have a sensitiviness a lot of woman will never have!
    This intellectaul love requieres intellect on the first place. (Report) Reply

Read all 11 comments »

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