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The Death of Oscar Wilde

Jacek Dehnel

Reading from Southbank Centre's Poetry Parnassus festival, 2012. 

Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones:
The Death of Oscar Wilde
Sometimes he thrust his hand into his mouth to prevent himself from crying aloud with pain, and once he took it out to speak bitterly of the wallpaper, ‘It is killing me,’ he complained, adding resignedly, as if the worst was over, ‘One of us had to go.’
HESKETH PEARSON, The Life of Oscar Wilde
Its pattern wasn’t an issue, Oscar, and not only
to the owner and clients, to the priest and Robbie,
but to you too. Forgive it. Because it was not the
motley roses or brownish leaves that you so hated,
but what was there behind them – the wall and the passage,
the courtyard, the sky above you, boulevards and gardens,
the great wallpaper factory, the massed factory workers,
all their wives and their children, their families, their chattels,
distant cities, the ocean, the whole sapphire planet
full of flaws – lands and islands. And back again: rain clouds,
London, Paris, America, silk, satin and velvet,
everything left behind you – and in the next bedroom
two pairs of lovers’ legs shaking as tremors ran through them,
like feet over the                 of a strange scaffold.