Impression du Matin by Oscar Wilde
Immerse yourself in the transformative hours of dawn with “Impression du Matin” by Irish writer, poet, and playwright Oscar Wilde, a poetic depiction of London’s Thames as night shifts to day. Capturing the essence of the city’s quiet nocturnal beauty and the onset of its vibrant morning life, this piece is a testament to Wilde’s mastery in painting with words. It is one of the many lyrical gems found in Poems, a poetry collection that showcases Wilde’s eloquent verse and sharp wit. For those eager to immerse themselves in Wilde’s poetic landscape, the Poems ebook is available for online reading at PageVio.
1. Impression du Matin
The Thames nocturne of blue and gold
Changed to a Harmony in grey:
A barge with ochre-coloured hay
Dropt from the wharf: and chill and cold
The yellow fog came creeping down
The bridges, till the houses’ walls
Seemed changed to shadows and St. Paul’s
Loomed like a bubble o’er the town.
Then suddenly arose the clang
Of waking life; the streets were stirred
With country waggons: and a bird
Flew to the glistening roofs and sang.
But one pale woman all alone,
The daylight kissing her wan hair,
Loitered beneath the gas lamps’ flare,
With lips of flame and heart of stone.
2. Impression du Matin Analysis
This poem is a vivid portrayal of a scene by the Thames River, likely in London, at different moments transitioning from night to day. Here is a breakdown of the poem’s content and possible interpretations:
The Thames nocturne of blue and gold / Changed to a Harmony in grey
This line introduces a scene by the Thames River at night (a nocturne is typically a musical composition that is inspired by, or evocative of, the night). The “blue and gold” could refer to the night sky and the lights reflecting on the water. As the scene shifts, the vivid night colors give way to a more monochrome “Harmony in grey,” suggesting the approach of dawn or the onset of fog, muting the colors.
A barge with ochre-coloured hay / Dropt from the wharf: and chill and cold
Here, the speaker introduces a barge carrying hay, painted with earthy tones of ochre, which is being unloaded (“Dropt”) from a wharf. The descriptive “chill and cold” marks the sensory shift in temperature that often comes with the early morning hours.
The yellow fog came creeping down / The bridges, till the houses’ walls
This scene captures the fog, a common element in literary depictions of London, rolling in over the bridges. The fog is personified as it “creeps,” lending an eerie quality to the scene as it envelops the urban landscape.
Seemed changed to shadows and St. Paul’s / Loomed like a bubble o’er the town
The fog is so thick that the houses appear to be mere shadows. St. Paul’s Cathedral, a significant landmark, is described as looming “like a bubble,” which suggests a kind of fragile impermanence, as if it might disappear or burst at any moment.
Then suddenly arose the clang / Of waking life; the streets were stirred
This stanza introduces a shift in time, from the stillness of night to the bustling activity of morning. Sounds of life (“the clang”) signal the beginning of the day’s routines.
With country waggons: and a bird / Flew to the glistening roofs and sang
The urban scene is enlivened with rural elements (“country waggons”) and nature (a bird). The bird’s song and the “glistening roofs,” potentially wet with dew or rain, contribute to the sense of a fresh new day.
But one pale woman all alone, / The daylight kissing her wan hair
Amidst the morning vitality, there is a stark contrast with a solitary pale woman. The daylight “kissing” her hair might indicate the first light of dawn touching her, but her paleness suggests she’s not part of the morning’s renewal.
Loitered beneath the gas lamps’ flare, / With lips of flame and heart of stone
The woman lingers under the artificial light of the gas lamps, a remnant of the night. Her “lips of flame” could imply a striking visual or passionate inner life, but this is contradicted by her “heart of stone,” suggesting emotional numbness or detachment.
Overall, the poem captures the transition from night to day in the city, highlighting the contrast between the communal bustle of life and the isolation of an individual within it. It’s a snapshot of urban existence that juxtaposes the beauty and indifference of both nature and human-made environments, focusing particularly on a lone woman who seems disconnected from the renewal that surrounds her.
Size: 8″ x 12″ (2:3 ratio)
Copyright information: For personal use only
Note: Actual poster background color is white. For the sample poster, the background is made gray for illustration purpose.
If you find “Impression du Matin” enjoyable, you might want to take a look at this list of poems penned by Oscar Wilde.