WILDE, OSCAR (1854-1900)
AUTOGRAPH REVISED MANUSCRIPT OF HIS EARLY POEM 'HEART'S YEARNINGS', signed in full at the end ('Oscar O'F. Wills Wilde Magdalen College Oxford'), 40 lines in eight five-line stanzas, with some autograph revisions including changing the fourth line of the second stanza from 'Only with tired eyes to wait' to 'I sit and wait' preserving reconsidered readings, 2 pages, ruled folio, Magdalen College, Oxford [undated, but 1873-1874]
Surely to me the world is all too drear,
To shape my sorrow to a tuneful strain,
It is enough for wearied ears to hear
The Passion - Music of a fevered brain,
Or low complainings of a heart's pain...
O Pale moon shining fair and clear
Between the apple-blossoms white,
That cluster round my window here,
Why does Love tarry in his flight
And not come near for my heart's delight.
THIS IS ONE OF THE EARLIEST EXTANT POETICAL MANUSCRIPTS BY OSCAR WILDE; no earlier one of any length is recorded by Bobby Fong and Karl Beckson (2000). Before the publication of their edition of the poems, 'Heart's Yearnings' had remained unpublished (text taken from this manuscript).
Wilde only signed himself in full, as in this manuscript, until about December 1876. He went up to Oxford in October 1874 and graduated in November 1877. The date of the manuscript is likely to be 1873-1874; lines 1-5 of the poem appear in Wilde's Trinity College, Dublin, notebook dating from that time. Wilde's first published work, a poem, was 'Chorus of Cloud Maidens', which appeared in the Dublin University Magazine in November 1875. An echo of the second stanza is to be found in the second stanza of 'The True Knowledge' which was first published in September 1876. As in 'Heart's Yearnings' 'The True Knowledge' was prefaced by a classical Greek quotation.
PROVENANCE: Gordon A. Block Jr; Sotheby's New York, 29 January 1975, lot 249; Bernard Quaritch; Edward Spencer.
REFERENCES: The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, edited by Jackson, Small and Bristow, 2000-2005 (The Poems being edited in 2000 by Bobby Fong and Karl Beckson); Oscar Wilde, Interviews and Recollections, edited by E.H. Mikhail, 2 volumes, 1979.