The poem “The Artist” is part of a collection of six poems entitled “Poems in Prose.“ This is the first of this series that was published in 1894. The poem was written by Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900).
About “The artist”
Oscar Wilde still is a great inspiration for many modern-day poets. Wilde himself was also inspired by others. Take, for instance, Charles Baudelaire. Some say that the poems like “Poems in Prose” were the first steps towards free verse poetry.
“The Artist” shows us that there are lines between artistic and physical worlds. Wilde claims that they are blurred. This means the ephemerality and the perpetuity are therefore blurred. He brings forward the idea that life is simply too short.
Some beautiful things in life can cause pain, no matter how beautiful. Beauty can be a generator of creativity. On the other side, so can pain.
The world is dark because it seems to be at night. But in a way, it can be just that: a dark world. This darkness made it possible for the artist to generate this idea. At the same time, the artist tries to find the bronze for his creation, but it can’t be found. Only in the statue, he made for his loved one. Since he finds this in the ‘tomb of the dead,’ it’s someone who passed away. This bronze made him shape an image of pleasure, that only lasts for a moment.
One evening there came into his soul the desire to fashion an image of The Pleasure that abideth for a Moment. And he went forth into the world to look for bronze. For he could only think in bronze.
But all the bronze of the whole world had disappeared, nor anywhere in the whole world was there any bronze to be found, save only the bronze of the image of The Sorrow that endureth for Ever.
Now, this image he had himself, and with his own hands, fashioned, and had set it on the tomb of the one thing he had loved in life. On the tomb of the dead thing, he had most loved had he set this image of his fashioning, that it might serve as a sign of the love of man that dieth not, and a symbol of the sorrow of man that endureth forever. And in the whole world, there was no other bronze save the bronze of this image.
And he took the image he had fashioned, and set it in a great furnace, and gave it to the fire.
And out of the bronze of the image of The Sorrow that endureth for Ever, he fashioned an image of The Pleasure that abideth for a Moment.
— Oscar Wilde