Knowing that we are beginning our second unit, you will be able to guess who wrote this poem.  However…

…imagine, please, that you find it, in handwritten form, on a thick, rather expensive-seeming sheet of paper, seemingly abandoned–or left intentionally?– on an empty table (cafe?) at which you are the first person to arrive one morning.

What would you guess about the author?


To drift with every passion till my soul
Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play,
Is it for this that I have given away
Mine ancient wisdom, and austere control?
Methinks my life is a twice-written scroll
Scrawled over on some boyish holiday
With idle songs for pipe and virelay,
Which do but mar the secret of the whole.

Surely there was a time I might have trod
The sunlit heights, and from life’s dissonance
Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God:
Is that time dead? lo! with a little rod
I did but touch the honey of romance—
And must I lose a soul’s inheritance?


One Reply to “Helas!”

  1. OK–I am going, now, to “annotate” this text with hypothes.is, recreating what a “scholarly edition” of the poem would look like. (In this case, The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Vol. 1. Ed. Fong and Beckson. New York: OUP, 2000).

    This will serve as an introduction to our collective annotation of Wilde’s novel, which will take place M-F of next week…Those of you who haven’t commented already, reply to the annotations! And consider points already made by commenters here: Daniel’s ideas about “context” are especially relevant…

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