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Madonna Mia by Oscar Wilde


"Madonna Mia" is a religious poem written by Oscar Wilde. At first read, it's easy to miss that this is in fact about the Virgin Mary. However, due to many references, it is indeed a religious writing. "Pale cheeks" is a reference to being rich (or in this case, being of royalty). In the times of Oscar, being pale was a sign of royalty or being rich since the poor were in the sun all the time working. "Pale cheeks whereon no love hath left its stain" is a way of saying the "lily-girl" is a virgin. As well, "the Stair of Gold" refers to the steps to heaven. In short, "Madonna Mia" is Italian for "My Love", but it is Latin for "Madonna Rewards". Madonna is another name for Mary.

"Madonna Mia" is an Italian sonnet with the rhyme scheme ABBAACCA-DEFDFE. It is written in iambic-pentameter (2 feet with five meters).


Madonna Rewards

A LILY-GIRL, not made for this world's pain,
With brown, soft hair close braided by her ears,
And longing eyes half veiled by slumberous tears
Like bluest water seen through mists of rain:
Pale cheeks whereon no love hath left its stain,
Red underlip drawn in for fear of love,
And white throat, whiter than the silvered dove,
Through whose wan marble creeps one purple vein.
Yet, though my lips shall praise her without cease,
Even to kiss her feet I am not bold,
Being o'ershadowed by the wings of awe.
Like Dante, when he stood with Beatrice
Beneath the flaming Lion's breast, and saw
The seventh Crystal, and the Stair of Gold.

Next: Magdalen Walks
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