Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Harlot's House (Author: Oscar Wilde)


  1. We caught the tread of dancing feet,
    We loitered down the moonlit street,
    And stopped beneath the harlot's house.
  2. Inside, above the din and fray,
    We heard the loud musicians play
    The Treues Liebes Herz of Strauss.
  3. Like strange mechanical grotesques,
    Making fantastic arabesques,
    The shadows raced across the blind.
  4. We watched the ghostly dancers spin,
    To sound of horn and violin,
    Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.
  5. Like wire-pulled automatons,
    Slim silhouetted skeletons
    Went sidling through the slow quadrille.
  6. Then took each other by the hand,
    And danced a stately saraband;
    Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.
  7. Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
    A phantom lover to her breast,
    Sometimes they seemed to try and sing.
  8. Sometimes a horrible marionette
    Came out and smoked its cigarette
    Upon the steps like a live thing.
  9. Then turning to my love I said,
    ‘The dead are dancing with the dead,’
    ‘The dust is whirling with the dust.’
  10. But she—she heard the violin,
    And left my side, and entered in:
    Love passed into the house of lust.

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  12. Then suddenly the tune went false,
    The dancers wearied of the waltz,
    The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.
  13. And down the long and silent street,
    The dawn with silver-sandalled feet,
    Crept like a frightened girl.