Symphony in Yellow by Oscar Wilde
“Symphony in Yellow” is an evocative poem by Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde. This piece stands out for its vivid imagery and the way it transforms a simple urban scene into a tapestry of colors and sensations. Wilde masterfully uses the color yellow as a central motif, weaving it through various elements of the London landscape – from the movement of an omnibus on a bridge to the thick fog along the quay, and the autumn leaves from the elms. Each stanza in the poem is a stroke in this symphonic painting, bringing to life the scenery with its rich, yet simple, descriptions.
1. The Poem
An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly,
And, here and there, a passer-by
Shows like a little restless midge.
Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.
The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the Temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.
Size: 8″ x 12″ (2:3 ratio)
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Note: Actual poster background color is white. For the sample poster, the background is made gray for illustration purpose.
2. Symphony in Yellow Analysis
This poem paints a vivid picture of a scene, likely set during autumn, using the color yellow as a recurring motif. Let’s break down its imagery and symbolism:
“An omnibus across the bridge / Crawls like a yellow butterfly”: This metaphor compares an omnibus (a type of public transportation from the past, like a bus) moving across a bridge to a yellow butterfly. It suggests slowness and grace in the vehicle’s movement, while the color yellow adds brightness to the scene.
“And, here and there, a passer-by / Shows like a little restless midge”: This simile compares people walking by to midges (small flying insects), emphasizing their seemingly insignificant and restless movement in the broader landscape.
“Big barges full of yellow hay / Are moored against the shadowy wharf”: This imagery evokes a calm, almost static scene by the wharf with barges loaded with hay. The contrast between the yellow hay and the shadowy wharf could symbolize the interplay between light and darkness, liveliness and stillness.
“And, like a yellow silken scarf, / The thick fog hangs along the quay”: The fog is likened to a yellow silken scarf, adding a sense of elegance and softness to the scene. The color yellow continues to be a key visual element, perhaps signifying warmth or the autumn season.
“The yellow leaves begin to fade / And flutter from the Temple elms”: This line describes the autumn leaves, continuing the yellow theme. “Temple elms” may refer to elm trees near a specific location, possibly near a historical or religious site.
“And at my feet the pale green Thames / Lies like a rod of rippled jade”: The final lines shift to describing the River Thames. The river is likened to rippled jade, a precious stone, suggesting beauty and value. The color shift from yellow to green could indicate a change in perspective or mood, from the vibrancy of autumn to a more serene, contemplative state.
Overall, the poem uses vivid imagery and the recurring motif of the color yellow to create a picturesque autumn scene. It contrasts the hustle and bustle of city life (represented by the omnibus and passers-by) with the stillness and beauty of nature (represented by the fog, the hay, and the leaves). The poem might be inviting the reader to appreciate the beauty in everyday scenes and the changing of seasons.
We hope you’re captivated by Oscar Wilde’s “Symphony in Yellow.” You may also enjoy delving into this list of poems by Oscar Wilde.