In 1888, Oscar Wilde was inspired by the sight of a yellow London omnibus making its way over Blackfriars Bridge in foggy weather to write "Symphony in Yellow," a poem which attempts to recreate in words the effect of a Whistler nocturne. Wilde included the butterfly and the Thames, two elements closely associated with Whistler's painting, in his twelve-line poem, written in three quatrains. It was published in 1889.
The present variation on the poem was written in November or December 1891 in Paris, were Wilde was at work on Salome. The poet transposes the poem's setting from London to Paris. The Paris version is two quatrains rather than three. The first quatrain is unchanged from the original version. The final quatrain of the 1889 version reads, "The yellow leaves begin to fade/And flutter from the Temple elms,/And at my feet the pale green Thames/Lies like a rod of rippled." In the rewritten version, the fog has shifted from the Thames to the Seine: "The yellow fog begins to fade/Into a mist of nacre rain,/And at my feet the pale green Seine/Lies, like a rod of rippled jade."
An intriguing version of a key poem of the Æsthetic and Decadent movements, presumably unpublished.
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