Oscar Wilde – The Harlot’s House

April 30, 2010 at 7:33 pm (Uncategorized)

Another of my favourite Wilde poems.

The Harlot’s House

We caught the tread of dancing feet,

We loitered down the moonlit street,

And stopped beneath the harlot’s house.


Inside, above the din and fray,

We heard the loud musicians play

The ‘Treues Liebes Herz’ of Strauss.


Like strange mechanical grotesques,

Making fantastic arabesques,

The shadows raced across the blind.


We watched the ghostly dancers spin

To sound of horn and violin,

Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.


Like wire-pulled automatons,

Slim silhouetted skeletons

Went sliding through the slow quadrille.


They took each other by the hand,

And danced a stately saraband;

Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.


Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed

A phantom lover to her breast,

Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.


Sometimes a horrible marionette

Came out, and smoked its cigarette

Upon the steps like a living thing.


The turning to my love, I sad,

‘The dead are dancing with the dead,

The dust is whirling with the dust.’


But she – she heard the violin,

And left my side, and entered in:

Love passed into the house of lust.


The suddenly the tune went false,

The dancers wearied of the waltz,

The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.


And down the long and silent street,

The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,

Crept like a frightened girl.

Oscar Wilde



  1. LizTisane said,

    Wow. This was amazing. I admit despite my general Wilde fangirldom I’m not too familiar with his poetry and this was an absolutely amazing introduction. I think I’m going to go to the library and look for more as soon as I get dressed.

    (Hi, BTW. I’ve been lurking here for a long time but not really had the guts to say anything. I love your blog to death and it’s part of the reason I’m going to be taking the module “From Romantics to Decadents” next year at school. So you can tell people your blog has enlightened at least one person in that regard.)

    • Decadent Handbook said,

      Thank you so much! That’s such a lovely compliment, I’m really flattered.

      I love Wilde’s poetry. I was a bit of a latecomer to it as well, but it has since stolen my heart.

      Please don’t ever feel nervous about commenting! I am nothing like an expert in this field, and I started this blog to learn as much as anything else. I got interested in the movement through a uni course (Aesthetics and Decadence), so I’m really glad that there are other related courses out there! 🙂

  2. Religious Decadence(christian) said,

    that was really cool though not quit explanatory but cool all the,

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