Oscar Wilde (part 1)

A. Listen to the poems and read them.

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        Symphony in Yellow

An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly,
And, here and there, a passer-by
Shows like a little restless midge.

Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.

The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the Temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.

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        Impression du Matin

The Thames nocturne of blue and gold
Changed to a Harmony in grey:
A barge with ochre-coloured hay
Dropt from the wharf: and chill and cold

The yellow fog came creeping down
The bridges, till the houses' walls
Seemed changed to shadows and St. Paul's
Loomed like a bubble o'er the town.

Then suddenly arose the clang
Of waking life; the streets were stirred
With country waggons: and a bird
Flew to the glistening roofs and sang.

But one pale woman all alone,
The daylight kissing her wan hair,
Loitered beneath the gas lamps' flare,
With lips of flame and heart of stone.

matin: (French) morning

B. Answer the questions. Compare and contrast the two poems.

  1. What is the setting of each poem? Can you identify the season, the time of the day? What helps you to identify the place?
  2. In what person are the poems written? How much is the poet involved into what is happening in the poems? Are his feelings or attitudes expressed openly?
  3. What senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste) do the poems appeal to?
  4. What exactly does the poet see? Name the objects, natural phenomena and people. Which of them are the same in both poems? Which are different?
  5. Are the images static or dynamic? Which lines contain movements or changes?
  6. In what tense are the poems written? Does it make any difference in the interpretation of the poems?
  7. What colours are mentioned in each poem? What is their significance?
  8. Where in each poem can you find the links between colour and music?
  9. What figurative language (simile, metaphor, personification) does the poet use? Find all examples and explain them. What effect do they create?
  10. Is the meter of the poems iambic or trochaic?
  11. What words in the poems rhyme? What is the rhyme scheme of the poems?
  12. Find eye rhymes (the words that have similar spelling but are pronounced differently).
  13. What types of lines prevail in the poems: end-stop or run-on lines? How do they contribute to the overall effect of the poem?
  14. Can you find examples of alliteration (repetition of consonant sounds) or assonance (repetition of vowel sounds)? Do they create any effect?
  15. What themes does the poet deal with?
  16. What is the mood in each poem? How is it created?
  17. What other works do the poems remind you of?
  18. What would you include in the description of the city?