An Irish born writer and poet, Oscar Wilde wrote in different disciplines in the 1880’s to emerge as a successful playwright in the 1890’s. His novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is a well known work of his, and he is remembered for his plays and epigrams, as much as for the circumstances of his incarceration and early death. Poem # 22 in our ranking, this is “The Dole of the King’s Daughter”.

The Dole of the King’s Daughter, by Oscar Wilde

Seven stars in the still water,
And seven in the sky;
Seven sins on the King’s daughter,
Deep in her soul to lie.

Red roses at her feet,
(Roses are red in her red-gold hair)
And O where her bosom and girdle meet
Red roses are hidden there.

Fair is the knight who lieth slain
Amid the rush and reed,
See the lean fishes that are fain
Upon dead men to feed.

Sweet is the page that lieth there,
(Cloth of gold is goodly prey,)
See the black ravens in the air,
Black, O black as the night are they.

What do they there so stark and dead?
(There is blood upon her hand)
Why are the lilies flecked with red?
(There is blood on the river sand.)

There are two that ride from the south to the east,
And two from the north and west,
For the black raven a goodly feast,
For the King’s daughter to rest.

There is one man who loves her true,
(Red, O red, is the stain of gore!)
He hath duggen a grave by the darksome yew,
(One grave will do for four.)

No moon in the still heaven,
In the black water none,
The sins on her soul are seven,
The sin upon his is one.


  1. I have admired Wilde’s witticisms and read Dorian Gray multiple times, so it’s no surprise I find his poetry equally delightful. Dark, not quite making sense, but delightful. The sin upon his is one – of loving her, the poor man.

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