Short Nalysis of Oscar Wilde's “Sonnet on Hearing the Dies Irae Sung in the Sistine Chapel”

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Oscar Wilde, an Irish poet from the Victorian era and very famous representative of Aestheticism, composed various fictions, plays and a lot of poetry. This short discourse deals with his “Sonnet on hearing the Dies Irae Sung in the Sistine Chapel.” The sonnet is a typical Italian or Petrarchan style sonnet divided into an octave (two quatrains) and a sestet (two tercets). The rhyming pattern is very regular as well. The octave rhymes a-b-b-a, a-c-c-a and the sestet rhymes d-e-f, d-e-f. Also, considering the literal content of the sonnet, it is divided into the two previously named parts. The speaker is not named in the poem. We know that the person speaks about his or her experience in the Sistine Chapel listening to the Dies Irae, which translates to Day of Wrath or Judgment day. The addressee of the poem is god. That is explicitly illustrated in the first verse, when the speaker addresses the lord (“Nay, Lord, not thus!”). The sonnet draws a comparison between the terrors that are to be expected on the Day of Wrath and numerous symbols und images representing live, love and happiness. The speaker says that fear and terror don’t help to understand god himself or his importance to humankind any better than the beautiful and optimistic things in life. The speaker’s tone is optimistic and joyful but also to some extent earnest. The mood that is thence created is a mixture of thoughtfulness and happiness. In the first stanza he addresses god saying “Nay, Lord, not thus!” (Wilde, l. 1) challenging him to do things differently. That is strengthened by the break created by the exclamation mark. Other than that the meter is consistent throughout the first stanza (iambic pentameter). Following the address there is an asyndeton consisting of three symbols. White lilies, olive-groves and doves are well known symbols for peace, especially in Christianity. Therefore he tells god that humankind can learn way more about “live and love” (Wilde, l. 3) by experiencing a peaceful...
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