'Panthea' by Oscar Wilde

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NAY, let us walk from fire unto fire,
From passionate pain to deadlier delight,--
I am too young to live without desire,
Too young art thou to waste this summer night
Asking those idle questions which of old
Man sought of seer and oracle, and no reply was told.

For, sweet, to feel is better than to know,
And wisdom is a childless heritage,
One pulse of passion--youth's first fiery glow,--
Are worth the hoarded proverbs of the sage:10
Vex not thy soul with dead philosophy,
Have we not lips to kiss with, hearts to love, and eyes to see!

Dost thou not hear the murmuring nightingale
Like water bubbling from a silver jar,
So soft she sings the envious moon is pale,
That high in heaven she is hung so far
She cannot hear that love-enraptured tune,--
Mark how she wreathes each horn with mist, yon late and labouring

White lilies, in whose cups the gold bees dream,
The fallen snow of petals where the breeze20
Scatters the chestnut blossom, or the gleam
Of boyish limbs in water,--are not these
Enough for thee, dost thou desire more?
Alas! the Gods will give nought else from their eternal store.

For our high Gods have sick and wearied grown
Of all our endless sins, our vain endeavour
For wasted days of youth to make atone
By pain or prayer or priest, and never, never,
Hearken they now to either good or ill,
But send their rain upon the just and the unjust at will.30

They sit at ease, our Gods they sit at ease,
Strewing with leaves of rose their scented wine,
They sleep, they sleep, beneath the rocking trees
Where asphodel and yellow lotus twine,
Mourning the old glad days before they knew
What evil things the heart of man could dream, and dreaming do.

And far beneath the brazen floor they see
Like swarming flies the crowd of little men,
The bustle of small lives, then wearily
Back to their lotus-haunts they turn again40
Kissing each other's mouths, and mix more deep
The poppy-seeded draught which brings soft purple-lidded sleep.

There all day long the golden-vestured sun,
Their torch-bearer, stands with his torch a-blaze,
And when the gaudy web of noon is spun
By its twelve maidens through the crimson haze
Fresh from Endymion's arms comes forth the moon,
And the immortal Gods in toils of mortal passions swoon.

There walks Queen Juno through some dewy mead
Her grand white feet flecked with the saffron dust50
Of wind-stirred lilies, while young Ganymede
Leaps in the hot and amber-foaming must,
His curls all tossed, as when the eagle bare
The frightened boy from Ida through the blue Ionian air.

There in the green heart of some garden close
Queen Venus with the shepherd at her side,
Her warm soft body like the briar rose
Which would be white yet blushes at its pride,
Laughs low for love, till jealous Salmacis
Peers through the myrtle-leaves and sighs for pain of lonely60

There never does that dreary north-wind blow
Which leaves our English forests bleak and bare,
Nor ever falls the swift white-feathered snow,
Nor doth the red-toothed lightning ever dare
To wake them in the silver-fretted night
When we lie weeping for some sweet sad sin, some dead delight.

Alas! they know the far Lethæan spring,
The violet-hidden waters well they know,
Where one whose feet with tired wandering
Are faint and broken may take heart and go,70
And from those dark depths cool and crystalline
Drink, and draw balm, and sleep for sleepless souls, and anodyne.

But we oppress our natures, God or Fate
Is our enemy, we starve and feed
On vain repentance--O we are born too late!
What balm for us in bruisèd poppy seed
Who crowd into one finite pulse of time
The joy of infinite love and the fierce pain of infinite crime.

O we are wearied of this sense of guilt,
Wearied of pleasure's paramour despair,80
Wearied of every temple we have built,
Wearied of every right, unanswered prayer,
For man is weak; God sleeps: and heaven is high:
One fiery-coloured moment: one great love; and lo! we die.

Ah! but no ferry-man with labouring pole
Nears his black shallop to the flowerless strand,
No little coin of bronze can bring the soul
Over Death's river to the sunless land,
Victim and wine and vow are all in vain,
The tomb is sealed; the soldiers watch; the dead rise not again.90

We are resolved into the supreme air,
We are made one with what we touch and see,
With our heart's blood each crimson sun is fair,
With our young lives each spring-impassioned tree
Flames into green, the wildest beasts that range
The moor our kinsmen are, all life is one, and all is change.

With beat of systole and of diastole
One grand great life throbs through earth's giant heart,
And mighty waves of single Being roll
From nerve-less germ to man, for we are part100
Of every rock and bird and beast and hill,
One with the things that prey on us, and one with what we kill.

From lower cells of waking life we pass
To full perfection; thus the world grows old:
We who are godlike now were once a mass
Of quivering purple flecked with bars of gold,
Unsentient or of joy or misery,
And tossed in terrible tangles of some wild and wind-swept sea.

This hot hard flame with which our bodies burn
Will make some meadow blaze with daffodil,110
Ay! and those argent breasts of thine will turn
To water-lilies; the brown fields men till
Will be more fruitful for our love to-night,
Nothing is lost in nature, all things live in Death's despite.

The boy's first kiss, the hyacinth's first bell,
The man's last passion, and the last red spear
That from the lily leaps, the asphodel
Which will not let its blossoms blow for fear
Of too much beauty, and the timid shame
Of the young bride-groom at his lover's eyes,--these with the120

One sacrament are consecrate, the earth
Not we alone hath passions hymeneal,
The yellow buttercups that shake for mirth
At daybreak know a pleasure not less real
Than we do, when in some fresh-blossoming wood
We draw the spring into our hearts, and feel that life is good.

So when men bury us beneath the yew
Thy crimson-stainèd mouth a rose will be,
And thy soft eyes lush bluebells dimmed with dew,
And when the white narcissus wantonly130
Kisses the wind its playmate, some faint joy
Will thrill our dust, and we will be again fond maid and boy.

And thus without life's conscious torturing pain
In some sweet flower we will feel the sun,
And from the linnet's throat will sing again,
And as two gorgeous-mailèd snakes will run
Over our graves, or as two tigers creep
Through the hot jungle where the yellow-eyed huge lions sleep

And give them battle! How my heart leaps up
To think of that grand living after death140
In beast and bird and flower, when this cup,
Being filled too full of spirit, bursts for breath,
And with the pale leaves of some autumn day
The soul earth's earliest conqueror becomes earth's last great prey.

O think of it! We shall inform ourselves
Into all sensuous life, the goat-foot Faun,
The Centaur, or the merry bright-eyed Elves
That leave their dancing rings to spite the dawn
Upon the meadows, shall not be more near
Than you and I to nature's mysteries, for we shall hear150

The thrush's heart beat, and the daisies grow,
And the wan snowdrop sighing for the sun
On sunless days in winter, we shall know
By whom the silver gossamer is spun,
Who paints the diapered fritillaries,
On what wide wings from shivering pine to pine the eagle flies.

Ay! had we never loved at all, who knows
If yonder daffodil had lured the bee
Into its gilded womb, or any rose
Had hung with crimson lamps its little tree!160
Methinks no leaf would ever bud in spring,
But for the lovers' lips that kiss, the poets' lips that sing.

Is the light vanished from our golden sun,
Or is this dædal-fashioned earth less fair,
That we are nature's heritors, and one
With every pulse of life that beats the air?
Rather new suns across the sky shall pass,
New splendour come unto the flower, new glory to the grass.

And we two lovers shall not sit afar,
Critics of nature, but the joyous sea170
Shall be our raiment, and the bearded star
Shoot arrows at our pleasure! We shall be
Part of the mighty universal whole,
And through all æons mix and mingle with the Kosmic Soul!

We shall be notes in that great Symphony
Whose cadence circles through the rhythmic spheres,
And all the live World's throbbing heart shall be
One with our heart, the stealthy creeping years
Have lost their terrors now, we shall not die,
The Universe itself shall be our Immortality!180

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Panthea" by Oscar Wilde: A Journey into Divine Love

Panthea, one of Oscar Wilde's lesser-known poems, is a beautiful exploration of the divine nature of love. At first glance, the poem appears to be a simple retelling of the Greek myth of Pan and Syrinx. But as you delve deeper into its layers, you begin to realize that it is much more than that. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes, symbolism, and literary techniques used by Wilde to convey his message of divine love.

Theme: Divine Love

The main theme of Panthea is divine love. Wilde portrays love as a divine force that transcends human understanding and is capable of transforming the soul. It is not the love that is limited to the physical realm, but a love that is pure, eternal, and transcendent. The poem tells us about the love between Pan and Syrinx, two mythological figures who represent the divine masculine and feminine energies.

As we read the poem, we realize that the love between Pan and Syrinx is not just a physical attraction but a spiritual union that elevates them to a higher level of existence. Their love is not just for each other, but for the entire universe. They are not separate beings, but a part of the divine whole. As Wilde writes, "For love’s sake only shall ye see/ The little trapped and tortured fly/ With pure eyes, from whose knowledge free/ The whole world shall your vision be."

Symbolism: Pan and Syrinx

The characters of Pan and Syrinx are used as symbols to represent the divine masculine and feminine energies. Pan, the god of nature, represents the masculine energy that is wild, untamed, and passionate. Syrinx, the nymph who transforms into a reed, represents the feminine energy that is gentle, nurturing, and receptive. Together, they create a perfect balance of energy that is necessary for the universe to function.

Pan and Syrinx also represent the two halves of the human soul. Pan represents the wild and passionate side of the soul, while Syrinx represents the gentle and nurturing side. The poem suggests that true happiness and fulfillment can only be achieved when these two energies are balanced and harmonized.

Literary Techniques: Metaphors and Imagery

Wilde uses a variety of literary techniques to convey his message of divine love. One of the most prominent techniques used in the poem is metaphors. The poem is full of metaphors that compare love to various elements of nature, such as the sun, the wind, and the sea. These metaphors create a vivid image of the beauty and power of love.

The use of imagery is another important literary technique used in the poem. Wilde uses vivid descriptions of nature to create a sense of harmony and unity between humans and the natural world. The imagery also helps to create a mystical and ethereal atmosphere that is essential to the poem's message.

Conclusion: A Journey into Divine Love

In conclusion, Panthea is a beautiful exploration of divine love. Through the characters of Pan and Syrinx, Wilde symbolizes the divine masculine and feminine energies and shows how their union creates a perfect balance of energy that is essential for the universe to function. The poem suggests that true happiness and fulfillment can only be achieved when these energies are balanced and harmonized.

Wilde's use of metaphors and imagery creates a vivid image of the beauty and power of love. The poem takes us on a journey into the mystical and ethereal world of divine love, where the boundaries between humans and nature dissolve, and we become a part of the divine whole. As the poem concludes, "Love is not weak as they suppose/ Who only its soft touches know/ For love in strength uplifts the rose/ And strikes the litanies of woe."

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Panthea: A Masterpiece of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde, the renowned Irish poet and playwright, is known for his witty and satirical works that have stood the test of time. One of his lesser-known works, Poetry Panthea, is a masterpiece that deserves more recognition. This poem is a tribute to the beauty of nature and the power of poetry to capture its essence. In this article, we will analyze and explain the themes, structure, and literary devices used in Poetry Panthea.


The central theme of Poetry Panthea is the beauty and power of nature. Wilde celebrates the natural world and its ability to inspire and uplift the human spirit. He portrays nature as a divine force that is both awe-inspiring and comforting. The poem is also a tribute to the power of poetry to capture the essence of nature. Wilde believes that poetry is a bridge between the human and natural worlds, and that it can help us connect with the beauty and wonder of nature.

Another theme of the poem is the transience of life. Wilde acknowledges that everything in nature is fleeting and impermanent. He uses the image of the falling leaves to symbolize the passing of time and the inevitability of death. However, he also suggests that there is a kind of immortality in nature, as it continues to renew itself and inspire new generations.


Poetry Panthea is a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem with a specific rhyme scheme and meter. The poem follows the traditional structure of a Petrarchan sonnet, with an octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines). The rhyme scheme of the octave is ABBAABBA, while the sestet has a more flexible rhyme scheme, usually CDECDE or CDCDCD.

The meter of the poem is iambic pentameter, which means that each line has ten syllables with a stress on every other syllable. This gives the poem a rhythmic and musical quality that is typical of sonnets. The use of iambic pentameter also allows Wilde to create a sense of balance and symmetry in the poem.

Literary Devices

Wilde uses a variety of literary devices to create a vivid and evocative picture of nature. One of the most striking devices is personification, which is the attribution of human qualities to non-human entities. Wilde personifies nature as a goddess, Panthea, who embodies the beauty and power of the natural world. He describes her as "the queen of all the earth" and "the mistress of the sea," suggesting that she is a divine and all-encompassing force.

Another literary device used in the poem is imagery, which is the use of vivid and descriptive language to create mental pictures. Wilde uses a wide range of imagery to evoke the beauty and majesty of nature. He describes the "golden sun" and the "azure sky," the "crimson rose" and the "lily's silver bell." These images create a sense of wonder and awe, as if the reader is experiencing the beauty of nature firsthand.

Wilde also uses metaphor, which is a comparison between two things that are not literally alike. He compares the falling leaves to "the snows of yester-year," suggesting that they are a symbol of the passing of time and the inevitability of change. He also compares poetry to a "magic mirror" that reflects the beauty of nature, and to a "golden key" that unlocks the secrets of the natural world.


Poetry Panthea is a masterpiece of Oscar Wilde that celebrates the beauty and power of nature. Through vivid imagery, personification, and metaphor, Wilde creates a sense of wonder and awe that captures the essence of the natural world. The poem is also a tribute to the power of poetry to connect us with nature and to help us appreciate its beauty and majesty. Poetry Panthea is a timeless work that continues to inspire and uplift readers today.

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