Oscar Wilde on his Failure to Live Up to the Aristotelian Ideal

Wilde, crying out, in his Humanitad:

But we are Learning’s changelings, know by rote

The clarion watchword of each Grecian school

And follow none; the flawless sword that smote

The pagan Hydra is an effete tool

Which we ourselves have blunted, what man now

Shall scale the august ancient heights and to old

Reverence bow?…….

 

And yet I cannot tread the portico

And live without desire, fear, and pain,

Or nurture that wise calm which long ago

The grave Athenian master taught to men,

Self-poised, self-centered, and self-comforted;

To watch the world’s vain phantasies go by

with unbowed head.

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