“When lo! a sudden glory!”: Oscar Wilde’s “Vita Nuova”

Double Rainbow, Western Massachusetts (c) 2010 Carolyn OliverThis weekend I was thrilled to cheer the happy news out of Ireland, and while I was going to write about a different poem this week, I think a little Oscar Wilde is called for here, don’t you?


I stood by the unvintageable sea
Till the wet waves drenched face and hair with spray;
The long red fires of the dying day
Burned in the west; the wind piped drearily;
And to the land the clamorous gulls did flee:
‘Alas!’ I cried, ‘my life is full of pain,
And who can garner fruit or golden grain
From these waste fields which travail ceaselessly!’
My nets gaped wide with many a break and flaw,
Nathless I threw them as my final cast
Into the sea, and waited for the end.
When lo! a sudden glory! and I saw
From the black waters of my tortured past
The argent splendour of white limbs ascend!

(from the 1881 poems)


2 thoughts on ““When lo! a sudden glory!”: Oscar Wilde’s “Vita Nuova”

  1. Yes, Happy News!! Thanks for the link – I loved watching the reaction.
    P.S. I was impressed to hear that my daughter knows who Oscar Wilde is. Maybe they are doing an okay job at our school. 🙂

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