I AM JOHN GRAY.
I met Oscar at The Vale, the home of the artists Charles Ricketts and Charle Shannon. They were the center of the avant-garde in Chelsea. I was a young poet and writer for their publication , The Dial. Oscar found me I have to say devastatingly handsome ,looking younger than my actual age. As you know Oscar was always attracted by beauty. He once told me when he was wooing me that beauty is a form of genius --is higher than genius as it needs no explanation. It is one of the great facts of the world like sunlight or springtime or the reflection in the dark waters of that silver shell we call the moon. It cannot be questioned , it has its divine right of sovereignty . It makes Prince's of those who it. Beauty is not just to be loved by genius but to be worshipped by genius. I became the ideal boy who could inspire Oscar's passionate adoration.
He spoke this way as we stood under the boughs heavy with bloom in the garden at The Vale.
Oscar touched me with a touch as soft as breath. He continued to woe me saying how clever of you to be so beautiful. Because you are made of ivory and golden the world is changed. The curve of your lips will rewrite history.
>> I was so moved by that night that I wrote a poem entitled Passing The Love Of Women which began:In the twilight darkling, when the sky was violet and the stars were fainting sparkling, thus it was we met. For when the pale stars shimmer, in the vault of violet, as far as gleams of memory he will not forget.
Oscar began writing The Picture Of Dorian Gray in the autumn of 1889 at the same time he was so greatly attracted tome. He began to call me Dorian in public and in letters to me. The Dorians were a tribe in Ancient Greece famous for their custom by which an older man becomes the lover and teacher of a youth. He called me Dorian and Dorian I became.
I had no advantages in life. My father denied me a formal education and put me to work in a loud dirty workshop. I educated myself and by sheer will worked my way out of there and into the civil service. Certainly men before Oscar helped me learn how to dress and how to speak like a gentleman.
For Oscar sex with me was an act of worship. For me it was a continuation of my social and literary status. Oscar became my patron, my protector and my benefactor. I was soon transformed into fiction as the hero of The Picture Of Dorian Gray. For months I had been Oscar's constant companion. We went everywhere together especially to The Cafe Royal which became my Oxford. When I read his poisonous book I knew I would be changed forever. The heavy odor of incense seemed to cling about its pages and to trouble the brain.
Oscar was fond of saying the man who rules a London dinner party rules the world. After the noterioty Of Dorian Gray I decided not to be merely a writer but a poet because poetry is a craft and an art and the aesthetic is itself holy. Being a poet would permit me, an obscure civil servant to elbow a place in the world. Oscar told me as an agent provocateur, you must expect for crimes against respectability only the most severe punishments. Life imitates art--the public has done you the immense honor of naming you after one of my finest creations--misunderstood as he may be, Dorian is beautiful and he comes to the consciousness of his beauty as a kind of power. And you Dorian, You can be such as he! Yours is the face upon which all the ends of the world are come and that beauty wrought out from within the flesh quickens against the old fancy of a perpetual life. You, Dorian, are becoming your own best work of art!
I replied" My dear Oscar, I do not have any ambitions to be held up as proof of your aesthetic theories or be hailed as your latest deluxe edition". He said The part is exquisitely cast; You are being Dorian, are you not? In every fiber of your being and by doing so you will not lose your life but discover it. For all art is to a certain degree a mode of acting. But if you start taking your role too seriously you will cease to be an artist for you will have forgotten that the first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible.
After over a year as his official beloved, I was displaced by Alfred Douglas. I was humiliated and attempted suicide. Once Oscar was in the grasp of Douglas he became a ghost, the ghost of my future. He broke all the rules and soiled what I considered a beautiful friendship, one passing the love of women. Of course more than jealousy, it became dangerous to be in Oscar's company due to all the rumors circulating about him.
At the time I met Andre Rafflevich and instantly there was something between us. Andre had an earlier attraction to Oscar but that had turned to distrust and finally revulsion. After that first dinner Andre and I talked into the night ending with him saying : You cannot be Oscar Wilde's friend and mine! Andre healed me. He brought peace to chaos. He forgave my sins and gave me a monthly income.
I decided that Oscar should be released from the contract to pay the costs of my first book of poems, Silver Points. Silver Points was my firstborn book, an exquisite work of art. It was such a homage to decadence , that in later years I bought up as my copies as I could so no one would read such odious words. I met Oscar one last time at The Cafe Royal after Silver Points was published. His assessment of the book was " it is wonderful, exquisite, subtle. It breaks new ground, opens up new worlds. It will be the sign of a renaissance of our poetry and of you, Dorian, it's acknowledged father. I replied it is the benchmark of our friendship which must now end. He said, what nonsense is this? What friendship? I am not your friend. I am your lover, your inventor, your maker. You are lover of my soul as I have told you many times. But know this Dorian, henceforth I do not have friends, I have only lovers!
I turned to Andre after that and our intimacy grew. But after Oscar as a lover and becoming so disillusioned , I could go no further than calling Andre my brother. Andre decided we would both continue our literary pursuits. We wrote some short plays together for private at home performances and then a full length play The Blackmailers that premiered at The Prince Of Wales theatre. The play was an utter failure and our last public collaborative work. I began to write a series of spiritual poems and Andre opened our home to mediums and spiritualists.
portrait of dorian by david crocker
The atmosphere around Wilde was tightening and the public' intolerance was rising after Mr W H, Dorian Gray, the Yellow Book and The Chameleon magazine. Andre and I both felt the smell of fear after reading a Douglas' poem Two Loves about the live that dare not speak its name.
Wilde's downfall came suddenly and the guilt verdict was devastating to me. I made my way to a nearby church and collapsed to my knees and remained there in a daze all day. The hysteria that followed caused hundreds of inverts to flee England for the continent including Ross, Turner, Andre and finally myself.
Andre believed that Wilde was a lower form of invert giving into sexual desire and influencing young men into corruption whereas I had lead Andre into a platonic love that elevated us to closer to God. I and later Andre and Aubrey Beardsley had converted to Catholicism . After Spiritual Poems was published in December 1895 I announced my intention to enter the priesthood. Andre had already become a lay member of the Dominican order ironically taking the name a Brother Sebastian. His health would not permit him to become a priest so I would do it for both of us. I entered Scots College Seminary in Rome and found happiness at last,
I was sent to a poor parish in Edinburgh where I worked so diligently that I caught pneumonia and Andre took me back to Rome to recuperate. There, we decided to build a new church in Edinburgh and Andre built a home close by so he would always to near to me. The church, St Peter's was completed in 1907 and I served there until my death in 1944. Andre's Sunday dinners became celebrated salons in Edinburgh. Moving between the duties of St Peter's and the social milieu of Andre's salons created a world of ceremony and symbolism for me, something Dorian Gray had sought and lost.
written by bill kaiser~
oscar wilde's 162nd birthday salon @ antebellum hollywood.
PRESENTED @ ANTEBELLUM HOLLYWOOD
ON THE 162ND BIRTHDAY OF OSCAR WILDE.
for info about oscar wilde death day salon on november 30th~