More Anecdotes From The Life Of A Poet
Nicholas Alexander Hayes
Hayward Fault Line Winner

1) When Oscar Wilde was young, he visited London with his father. He thought the city was much like Dublin as he walked around and the night men gathered the sewage from the poor neighborhoods. He saw a dirty young man about his own age standing in an alley off a mews.

Rimbaud, the young man, made eye contact. Together they walked into the alley and nervously had intercourse. Oscar walked away wondering if he would ever find love.

Rimbaud quickly ran after him and said, "Tu es vraiment un poet."

After this, Rimbaud stole what little cash Oscar's father had given him that morning. Oscar returned to the hotel smelling of ordure.

2) In America Oscar met Walt Whitman. They had Earl Grey tea, and some sort of fruit pie. They smiled at each other's observations and passed a very long hour.

Oscar thought Whitman was very, very hairy and not the sort of man with whom he would like to sing the body electric. Realizing he was incapable of universal love, he wondered if maybe he just needed practice or if his love was limited.

3) Oscar and his wife greeted her friend Aleister Crowley from the Golden Dawn at the door. Crowley knew he was held in disrepute but Constance was able to put her friend at ease by saying, "If this were a reputable household only reputable people would visit."

Actually very few people had visited since Vyvyan, the new baby, had been born. At dinner Constance sat across the table from Oscar, politely laughing at the jokes young Aleister made.

Later over brandy Constance said to Aleister, "Children are such darlings when they are with the help." They both laughed and pretended not to hear Vyvyan crying. Oscar dutifully ran up to see what had happened to the baby.

4) After his release from Reading Gaol, Oscar went to the continent. One night in Paris, he had troubled sleep and took all the cover's from the rent boy who had wanted to leave but was too tired after the night's exertions.

Oscar murmured, "Vyvyan" and the boy took offense that Oscar would mention some lost love. But the boy, reclaimed by exhaustion, fell back asleep and dreamt of the cash that he would collect the next morning.

First published: August, 2004
comments to the writer: Knob'