Poetic Spotlight: The Dole of the King’s Daughter

Photograph of Oscar Wilde, by Napoleon Sarony. Image care of Wikimedia Commons.

This week we step into the mind of one of Britain’s most famous writers and satirists: Oscar Wilde. Often known for his rebellious nature toward the Victorian era in which he lived, Wilde was a writer that rose high and fell hard within his lifetime, but his works have continued to the modern day, and often find themselves as part of school curriculum.

Don’t worry, though – Pretzels and Bullfights wasn’t here to school you with essays, and neither is the Waking Den!. Today, we’ll be taking a look at Wilde’s poem, “The Dole of the King’s Daughter” – a work with a touch of dastardly deeds and unrequited love.

But, dear fellows, what do you make of it?

The Dole of the King’s Daughter

Seven stars in the still water,
And seven in the sky;
Seven sins on the King’s daughter,
Deep in her soul to lie.

Red roses at her feet,
(Roses are red in her red-gold hair)
And O where her bosom and girdle meet
Red roses are hidden there.

Fair is the knight who lieth slain
Amid the rush and reed,
See the lean fishes that are fain
Upon dead men to feed.

Sweet is the page that lieth there,
(Cloth of gold is goodly prey,)
See the black ravens in the air,
Black, O black as the night are they.

What do they there so stark and dead?
(There is blood upon her hand)
Why are the lilies flecked with red?
(There is blood on the river sand.)

There are two that ride from the south to the east,
And two from the north and west,
For the black raven a goodly feast,
For the King’s daughter to rest.

There is one man who loves her true,
(Red, O red, is the stain of gore!)
He hath duggen a grave by the darksome yew,
(One grave will do for four.)

No moon in the still heaven,
In the black water none,
The sins on her soul are seven,
The sin upon his is one.
~Oscar Wilde

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