Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The New Helen (Author: Oscar Wilde)


  1. 1] Where hast thou been since round the walls of Troy
    2] The sons of God fought in that great emprise?
    3] Why dost thou walk our common earth again?
    4] Hast thou forgotten that impassioned boy,
    5] His purple galley, and his Tyrian men,
    6] And treacherous Aphrodite's mocking eyes?
    7] For surely it was thou, who, like a star
    8] Hung in the silver silence of the night,
    9] Didst lure the Old World's chivalry and might
    10] Into the clamorous crimson waves of war!
  2. 11] Or didst thou rule the fire-laden moon?
    12] In amorous Sidon was thy temple built
    13] Over the light and laughter of the sea?
    14] Where, behind lattice scarlet-wrought and gilt,
    15] Some brown-limbed girl did weave thee tapestry
    16] All through the waste and wearied hours of noon;
    17] Till her wan cheek with flame of passion burned,
    18] And she rose up the sea-washed lips to kiss
    19] Of some glad Cyprian sailor, safe returned
    20] From Calpé and the cliffs of Herakles!
  3. 21] No! thou art Helen, and none other one!
    22] It was for thee that young Sarpedôn died,
    23] And Memnôn's manhood was untimely spent;
    24] It was for thee gold-crested Hector tried
    25] With Thetis' child that evil race to run,
    26] In the last year of thy beleaguerment;
    27] Ay! even now the glory of thy fame
    28] Burns in those fields of trampled asphodel,
    29] Where the high lords whom Ilion knew so well
    30] Clash ghostly shields, and call upon thy name.
  4. 31] Where hast thou been? in that enchanted land
    32] Whose slumbering vales forlorn Calypso knew,
    33] Where never mower rose to greet the day
    34] But all unswathed the trammelling grasses grew,
    35] And the sad shepherd saw the tall corn stand
    36] Till summer's red had changed to withered grey?
    37] Didst thou lie there by some Lethæan stream
    38] Deep brooding on thine ancient memory,
    39] The crash of broken spears, the fiery gleam
    40] From shivered helm, the Grecian battle-cry?

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  6. 41] Nay, thou wert hidden in that hollow hill
    42] With one who is forgotten utterly,
    43] That discrowned Queen men call the Erycine;
    44] Hidden away that never mightst thou see
    45] The face of Her, before whose mouldering shrine
    46] To-day at Rome the silent nations kneel;
    47] Who gat from Love no joyous gladdening,
    48] But only Love's intolerable pain,
    49] Only a sword to pierce her heart in twain,
    50] Only the bitterness of child-bearing.
  7. 51] The lotus-leaves which heal the wounds of Death
    52] Lie in thy hand; O, be thou kind to me,
    53] While yet I know the summer of my days;
    54] For hardly can my tremulous lips draw breath
    55] To fill the silver trumpet with thy praise,
    56] So bowed am I before thy mystery;
    57] So bowed and broken on Love's terrible wheel,
    58] That I have lost all hope and heart to sing,
    59] Yet care I not what ruin time may bring
    60] If in thy temple thou wilt let me kneel.
  8. 61] Alas, alas, thou wilt not tarry here,
    62] But, like that bird, the servant of the sun,
    63] Who flies before the northwind and the night,
    64] So wilt thou fly our evil land and drear,
    65] Back to the tower of thine old delight,
    66] And the red lips of young Euphorion;
    67] Nor shall I ever see thy face again,
    68] But in this poisonous garden must I stay,
    69] Crowning my brows with the thorn-crown of pain,
    70] Till all my loveless life shall pass away.
  9. 71] O Helen! Helen! Helen! yet a while,
    72] Yet for a little while, O, tarry here,
    73] Till the dawn cometh and the shadows flee!
    74] For in the gladsome sunlight of thy smile
    75] Of heaven or hell I have no thought or fear,
    76] Seeing I know no other god but thee:
    77] No other god save him, before whose feet
    78] In nets of gold the tired planets move,
    79] The incarnate spirit of spiritual love
    80] Who in thy body holds his joyous seat.
  10. 81] Thou wert not born as common women are!
    82] But, girt with silver splendour of the foam,
    83] Didst from the depths of sapphire seas arise!
    84] And at thy coming some immortal star,


    85] Bearded with flame, blazed in the Eastern skies,
    86] And waked the shepherds on thine island-home.
    87] Thou shalt not die: no asps of Egypt creep
    88] Close at thy heels to taint the delicate air;
    89] No sullen-blooming poppies stain thy hair,
    90] Those scarlet heralds of eternal sleep.
  11. 91] Lily of love, pure and inviolate!
    92] Tower of ivory! red rose of fire!
    93] Thou hast come down our darkness to illume:
    94] For we, close-caught in the wide nets of Fate,
    95] Wearied with waiting for the World's Desire,
    96] Aimlessly wandered in the house of gloom,
    97] Aimlessly sought some slumberous anodyne
    98] For wasted lives, for lingering wretchedness,
    99] Till we beheld thy re-arisen shrine,
    100] And the white glory of thy loveliness.