THE HARLOT'S HOUSE
by: Oscar Wilde
- E caught the tread of dancing
- 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 sidling through the slow quadrille.
- The 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 live thing.
- Then, turning to my love, I said,
- "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.
- Then 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.
POEMS BY OSCAR WILDE
'The Harlot's House' was originally
published in The Dramatic Review (April, 1885).