Wilde Thoughts on Creativity


It’s about 1 a.m. here, central time if you’re keeping score at home. I took a break from my frenzy of creativity as Pearl Jam continued to ‘Spin the Black Circle‘ on my iTunes. I thumbed through my copy of “A Treasury of The World’s Best Loved Poems”.

As I sipped coffee at this late hour, my eyes fell on the following passage from the Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde:

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.

I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
“That fellow’s got to swing.”

A couple of stanzas later I read:

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face.
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty space.

We are the masters of our own destruction. Often, it’s pride and arrogance that destroys. Other times, it’s just our careless selfishness that alienates our loved ones and pushes them away.

Also, we kill the creativity that once lived inside of us. Whether insecurity or self-doubt is to blame, who knows what truly is the cause? And we kill the creativity that dwells within another. Are we jealous of their freedom to create?

How many of us have had dreams, goals that were never realized? How many of us create excuses why we never danced on Broadway, finished that novel, pitched game 6 of the World Series, or that we should have been better parents, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters? What caused us to stop trying? What killed the dream inside?

We are imprisoned in this world of toil and trade. We work to provide, we work to survive. We envy those who chased their dreams, who reached their goals. We make excuses for our failed attempts and look to the sky as our refuge. That only in death can we be freed from our labor, freed from our calloused hands and arthritic fingers. We all look with a wistful eye, upon the little tent of blue which prisoners call the sky…

It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
To dance upon the air!

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” – George Bernard Shaw

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One comment

  1. VannaLynn · · Reply

    I adore this, again. Beautifully written and thought provoking.

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