Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 117 pages of information about Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde.
St. Francis of Assisi.  But then God had given him at his birth the soul of a poet, as he himself when quite young had in mystical marriage taken poverty as his bride:  and with the soul of a poet and the body of a beggar he found the way to perfection not difficult.  He understood Christ, and so he became like him.  We do not require the Liber Conformitatum to teach us that the life of St. Francis was the true Imitatio Christi, a poem compared to which the book of that name is merely prose.

Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said:  he is just like a work of art.  He does not really teach one anything, but by being brought into his presence one becomes something.  And everybody is predestined to his presence.  Once at least in his life each man walks with Christ to Emmaus.—­De Profundis.


My lot has been one of public infamy, of long imprisonment, of misery, of ruin, of disgrace, but I am not worthy of it—­not yet, at any rate.  I remember that I used to say that I thought I could bear a real tragedy if it came to me with purple pall and a mask of noble sorrow, but that the dreadful thing about modernity was that it put tragedy into the raiment of comedy, so that the great realities seemed commonplace or grotesque or lacking in style.  It is quite true about modernity.  It has probably always been true about actual life.  It is said that all martyrdoms seemed mean to the looker on.  The nineteenth century is no exception to the rule.

Everything about my tragedy has been hideous, mean, repellent, lacking in style; our very dress makes us grotesque.  We are the zanies of sorrow.  We are clowns whose hearts are broken.  We are specially designed to appeal to the sense of humour.  On November 13th, 1895, I was brought down here from London.  From two o’clock till half-past two on that day I had to stand on the centre platform of Clapham Junction in convict dress, and handcuffed, for the world to look at.  I had been taken out of the hospital ward without a moment’s notice being given to me.  Of all possible objects I was the most grotesque.  When people saw me they laughed.  Each train as it came up swelled the audience.  Nothing could exceed their amusement.  That was, of course, before they knew who I was.  As soon as they had been informed they laughed still more.  For half an hour I stood there in the grey November rain surrounded by a jeering mob.—­De Profundis.


We call ours a utilitarian age, and we do not know the uses of any single thing.  We have forgotten that water can cleanse, and fire purify, and that the Earth is mother to us all.  As a consequence our art is of the moon and plays with shadows, while Greek art is of the sun and deals directly with things.  I feel sure that in elemental forces there is purification, and I want to go back to them and live in their presence.

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Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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