The Harlot’s House, by Oscar Wilde

I came across this poem via the excellent splainer.in, and it is hauntingly beautiful. The entire poem is below, taken from this website. There are others, many more, on the page – and indeed on the site.

Try reading it out aloud. I did so thrice, and my appreciation of the poem only grew each time.

The Harlot’s House


We caught the tread of dancing feet,
We loitered down the moonlit street,
And stopped beneath the harlot’s house.

Inside, above the din and fray,
We heard the loud musicians play
The “Treues Liebes Herz” of Strauss.

Like strange mechanical grotesques,
Making fantastic arabesques,
The shadows raced across the blind.

We watched the ghostly dancers spin
To sound of horn and violin,
Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.

Like wire-pulled automatons,
Slim silhouetted skeletons
Went sidling through the slow quadrille.

They took each other by the hand,
And danced a stately saraband;
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.

Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
A phantom lover to her breast,
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.

Sometimes a horrible marionette
Came out, and smoked its cigarette
Upon the steps like a live thing.

Then, turning to my love, I said,
“The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust.”

But she—she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in:
Love passed into the house of lust.

Then suddenly the tune went false,
The shadows wearied of the waltz,
The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.

And down the long and silent street,
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,
Crept like a frightened girl.

Sylvia Plath’s Food Diaries

Seems like such a mundane tweet, unless you know who Sylvia Plath was, of course. The entire account is just “Everything Sylvia Plath ate, according to her journals, her letters, her poems, The Bell Jar, and other miscellany” It has been lovingly curated.

So who was Sylvia Plath?

Sylvia Plath was one of the most dynamic and admired poets of the 20th century. By the time she took her life at the age of 30, Plath already had a following in the literary community. In the ensuing years her work attracted the attention of a multitude of readers, who saw in her singular verse an attempt to catalogue despair, violent emotion, and obsession with death. In the New York Times Book Review, Joyce Carol Oates described Plath as “one of the most celebrated and controversial of postwar poets writing in English.” Intensely autobiographical, Plath’s poems explore her own mental anguish, her troubled marriage to fellow poet Ted Hughes, her unresolved conflicts with her parents, and her own vision of herself.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/sylvia-plath

Here is her bibliography on Wikipedia, and here is NY Times coverage of Sylvia Plath.

Via the truly excellent splainer.in

(I am anything but an expert on poetry, and you should keep that in mind!)