Ballad of Reading Gaol, De Profundis, Gilbert and Sullivan, Jeanne Pinto, Lord Alfred Douglas, Nightingale and the Rose, Oscar Wilde, Patience, Requiescat, Richard de Zoysa, Salome, Sphinx, The Happy Prince, The Importance of being Earnest
Oscar Wilde figures in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience as a figure of fun, but this only underscores his extraordinary achievement in launching and sustaining an aesthetic movement that swept Britain towards the end of the Victorian age. His prominence gives the lie to the concept that the Victorians were staid and prope, and though in the end society, as he superbly asserted in his valediction, De Profundis, had no place for him, it had held him in higher esteem than most for a very long time.
His fame I think rests most on his plays, and in particular The Importance of being Earnest, which is an astonishing display of self-indulgence presented as moral necessity. Much can be said about the different guiding principles of the six principle characters, who each have weaknesses that motivate their triumphant transcendence of mundane realities. But my subject is the poetry, and I cannot really claim that the great drawing room comedies are poetic.