He described liberty as it was himself. The English poet Oscar Wilde wrote the poem Sonnet to liberty to show his independence.
About the poem
Wilde describes himself not only as independent but also as a being of his own. Of course, one is related to the other. He does not love his children, but these aren’t real people. He sees the nations of the world as his children. To be more precise, this is the relationship between Great Brittan and the United States.
There is not much love for his children, but there is something. A certain admiration for the two nations. Especially when it comes to democracy. The children that Wilde describes face many challenges; anarchy, terror and those who want to bring down democracy.
In a way, the poem is a statement in favour of democracy. At the time Wilde wrote this poem, the end of the nineteenth century, many countries encountered the uprise of those who wanted to end democracy.
The poem was first published in 1881 in the book Poems. The first edition of this book was printed 250 times. The following editions (two and three) were printed 500 times.
Many of the poems in this book were published before publication (in newspapers and literary magazines). Sonnet to liberty is the first poem of this book. Wilde was at the time of the publication a well-known poet and writer. The book wasn’t the success he had hoped for. Unsold copies were re-used in 1892. Based on this, Wilde decided not to combine any of his poems into a collection. He kept on writing poetry but did not publish the poems in one book.
The poem formed the basis for the essay The soul of man under socialism. This was his view on socialism and individualism in society.
Sonnet to liberty
NOT that I love thy children, whose dull eyes
See nothing save their own unlovely woe,
Whose minds know nothing, nothing care to know,–
But that the roar of thy Democracies,
Thy reigns of Terror, thy great Anarchies,
Mirror my wildest passions like the sea,–
And give my rage a brother—-! Liberty!
For this sake only do thy dissonant cries
Delight my discreet soul, else might all kings
By bloody knout or treacherous cannonades
Rob nations of their rights inviolate
And I remain unmoved–and yet, and yet,
These Christs that die upon the barricades,
God knows it I am with them, in some things.
— Oscar Wilde