Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde

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Author: Oscar Wilde

A Coronation

And when the Bishop had heard them he knit his brows, and said, ’My son, I am an old man, and in the winter of my days, and I know that many evil things are done in the wide world. The fierce robbers come down from the mountains, and carry off the little children, and sell them to the Moors. The lions lie in wait for the caravans, and leap upon the camels. The wild boar roots up the corn in the valley, and the foxes gnaw the vines upon the hill. The pirates lay waste the sea-coast and burn the ships of the fishermen, and take their nets from them. In the salt-marshes live the lepers; they have houses of wattled reeds, and none may come nigh them. The beggars wander through the cities, and eat their food with the dogs. Canst thou make these things not to be? Wilt thou take the leper for thy bedfellow, and set the beggar at thy board? Shall the lion do thy bidding, and the wild boar obey thee? Is not He who made misery wiser than thou art? Wherefore I praise thee not for this that thou hast done, but I bid thee ride back to the Palace and make thy face glad, and put on the raiment that beseemeth a king, and with the crown of gold I will crown thee, and the sceptre of pearl will I place in thy hand. And as for thy dreams, think no more of them. The burden of this world is too great for one man to bear, and the world’s sorrow too heavy for one heart to suffer.’

’Sayest thou that in this house?’ said the young King, and he strode past the Bishop, and climbed up the steps of the altar, and stood before the image of Christ.

He stood before the image of Christ, and on his right hand and on his left were the marvellous vessels of gold, the chalice with the yellow wine, and the vial with the holy oil. He knelt before the image of Christ, and the great candles burned brightly by the jewelled shrine, and the smoke of the incense curled in thin blue wreaths through the dome. He bowed his head in prayer, and the priests in their stiff copes crept away from the altar.

And suddenly a wild tumult came from the street outside, and in entered the nobles with drawn swords and nodding plumes, and shields of polished steel. ’Where is this dreamer of dreams?’ they cried. ’Where is this King who is apparelled like a beggar—this boy who brings shame upon our state? Surely we will slay him, for he is unworthy to rule over us.’

And the young King bowed his head again, and prayed, and when he had finished his prayer he rose up, and turning round he looked at them sadly.

And lo! through the painted windows came the sunlight streaming upon him, and the sun-beams wove round him a tissued robe that was fairer than the robe that had been fashioned for his pleasure. The dead staff blossomed, and bare lilies that were whiter than pearls. The dry thorn blossomed, and bare roses that were redder than rubies. Whiter than fine pearls were the lilies, and their stems were of bright silver. Redder than male rubies were the roses, and their leaves were of beaten gold.

He stood there in the raiment of a king, and the gates of the jewelled shrine flew open, and from the crystal of the many-rayed monstrance shone a marvellous and mystical light. He stood there in a king’s raiment, and the Glory of God filled the place, and the saints in their carven niches seemed to move. In the fair raiment of a king he stood before them, and the organ pealed out its music, and the trumpeters blew upon their trumpets, and the singing boys sang.

And the people fell upon their knees in awe, and the nobles sheathed their swords and did homage, and the Bishop’s face grew pale, and his hands trembled. ’A greater than I hath crowned thee,’ he cried, and he knelt before him.

And the young King came down from the high altar, and passed home through the midst of the people. But no man dared look upon his face, for it was like the face of an angel.—The Young King

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Chicago: Oscar Wilde, "A Coronation," Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde, ed. Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934 and trans. Stevens, Bertram, 1872 - in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (Boston: John W. Luce and Company, 1911), Original Sources, accessed April 23, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DAK69WI3MU1PQ4W.

MLA: Wilde, Oscar. "A Coronation." Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde, edited by Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934, and translated by Stevens, Bertram, 1872 -, in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde, Boston, John W. Luce and Company, 1911, Original Sources. 23 Apr. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DAK69WI3MU1PQ4W.

Harvard: Wilde, O, 'A Coronation' in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde, ed. and trans. . cited in 1911, Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde, John W. Luce and Company, Boston. Original Sources, retrieved 23 April 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DAK69WI3MU1PQ4W.