O.Wilde, Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. (...)
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. (...)

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. (...)
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself...

O. Wilde (1854-1900),
Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

Sunday, January 16, 2011

O. Wilde, The Grave of Keats


    Oscar Wilde

     English writer & poet

The Grave of Keats
(from Poems, 1881)

Rid of the world's injustice, and his pain,
He rests at last beneath God's veil of blue:
Taken from life when life and love were new
The youngest of the martyrs here is lain,
Fair as Sebastian, and as early slain.
No cypress shades his grave, no funeral yew,
But gentle violets weeping with the dew
Weave on his bones an ever-blossoming chain.
O proudest heart that broke for misery!
O sweetest lips since those of Mitylene!
O poet-painter of our English Land!
Thy name was writ in water--it shall stand:
And tears like mine will keep thy memory green,
As Isabella did her Basil-tree.
John Keats died in Rome at 11 pm on 23rd February 1821. He was buried in the Non-Catholic Cemetery in that town. At that time this cemetery was an open field and it contained only about thirty graves. One of the oldest in Europe, the Non-Catholic Cemetery is still active and is a popular tourist destination. It is placed just inside the Aurelian walls and it is overlooked by a pyramid, the ancient Roman monument dedicated to Caius Cestius. Nowadays, while most of its monuments commemorate citizens of Protestant countries, people of Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Jewish, Islamic, Catholics and other faiths are also buried here. 
Shortly before his death, Keats asked Severn to go to see this cemetery because he wished to have a description of it. And so his friend Severn went there and after Keats's death he wrote: "He expressed pleasure at my description... about the grass and the many flowers, particularly the innumerable violets... Violets were his favourite flowers, and he  joyed to hear how they overspread the graves. He assured me that he already seemed to feel the flowers growing on him".
Oscar Wilde visited the Non-Catholic Cemetery in April 1877 and prostated himself on the grass in front of John Keats's grave, declaring it to be 'the holiest place in Rome'. Soon after his visit, he wrote the beautiful sonnet "The Grave of Keats' to commemorate the occasion.

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