Litt degree an earlier form of the M. Litt from the University of Dublin Trinity College , where he was resident while researching his biography of Yeats. He felt a wince of disappointment at the idea that she had had a vision too, but then she was his wife, and perhaps the whole family now had the prophetic gift. He would have to try it out, on the harvest.

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I lost the green coatthe one I wore to America, with tufts of fur falling out of the collar, with shapely cuffs. I lost the books their dedications , shoes the tipped ones, the ones you lace right up to your britches , and the shape of my wifes mouth when she said it, when she called my name, even that, even when I didnt come. And because I am not Oscar Wilde, because someones body is thinning in the dirt, I can still say this. Say, through this blue I am not, as I once claimed, Oscar Wilde.

I lost the green coat—the one I wore to America, with tufts of fur falling out of the collar, with shapely cuffs. Say, through this blue sheen, that he Did you know they found shit smeared on the sheets of his bed? That boys young enough to climb stairs climbed the stairs of his suite? Oscar, if you place a glass of water on the bed, someone is bound to knock it over.

Your hyacinth, Oscar, will break the vase, break every part of the vase, out of beauty. So Oscar pushed up his shirtsleeves and there, there are my hands—now take them let them lead. The law. He listened he never listened before to the funny sound that hunger made, the crescendo, the bells turning up their skirts, the throttle of his throat, the ropes of his intestines wrung out.

During the course of two years it was only two years , the buzzing began. It was one prison, then another there were only three ; and he grew too large for the space, for a cell suited to the taking and leaving of prostitutes. He was too large for such of ceiling, for the blur of windows placed just below the ceiling, for all things having to do with penance.

He wanted to read Dante in prison. He wanted the darkness he squinted into to take a form, any form, to become black pages, one after another ruffling under his fingers. He wanted the weight to shift from his right hand to the left, and then the book would end like an accordion squeezed shut, finally silent. He wanted to learn Italian, so after prison the words would not appear misplaced.

He wanted to ride of the back of those words, to stuff himself into the new tongues forming around his teeth. I will write a play, he said. I will write a poem, he said, and it was bad. I have forgotten everything he said, and the slits of eyes stared back at him.

Maybe there will be new boys. New cigarette cases. He thought this, but No. His wife changed her name and died. He never looked at his children again. He held a hand mirror, held it over his anus and strained to see.

And in this thinning hair, in this new kind of bankruptcy, there was nothing to send to the children in prison, the ones locked up for shooting rabbits. For them, nothing.


Richard Ellmann



Oscar Wilde




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