Her Voice

Her Voice

By Oscar Wilde

The wild bee reels from bough to bough
With his furry coat and his gauzy wing.
Now in a lily-cup, and now
Setting a jacinth bell a-swing,
In his wandering;
Sit closer love: it was here I trow
I made that vow,

Swore that two lives should be like one
As long as the sea-gull loved the sea,
As long as the sunflower sought the sun,—
It shall be, I said, for eternity
‘Twixt you and me!
Dear friend, those times are over and done.
Love’s web is spun.

Look upward where the poplar trees
Sway in the summer air,
Here in the valley never a breeze
Scatters the thistledown, but there
Great winds blow fair
From the mighty murmuring mystical seas,
And the wave-lashed leas.

Look upward where the white gull screams,
What does it see that we do not see?
Is that a star? or the lamp that gleams
On some outward voyaging argosy,—
Ah! can it be
We have lived our lives in a land of dreams!
How sad it seems.

Sweet, there is nothing left to say
But this, that love is never lost,
Keen winter stabs the breasts of May
Whose crimson roses burst his frost,
Ships tempest-tossed
Will find a harbor in some bay,
And so we may.

And there is nothing left to do
But to kiss once again, and part,
Nay, there is nothing we should rue,
I have my beauty,—you your Art,
Nay, do not start,
One world was not enough for two
Like me and you.

Summary of Her Voice

  • Popularity of “Her Voice”: Composed and published in 1881, this beautiful piece is part of the larger piece of Oscar Wilde, a Scottish poetic soul of a not. The poem was included in his collection, The Lady’s Pictorial which hit the markets on July 9 of the same year. The poem presents a feminine voice, caught in the web of love and finding no way out ,feels solace in her beauty and poet’s art. The popularity of the poem lies in the tinge of nostalgia and anguish over the lost love.
  • “Her Voice” As a Representative of Love: The female speaker, the mouthpiece of Oscar Wilde, presents her thoughts about love, first talking about the wild bee, then about seagulls, trees, and again seagulls to state that she loves him and that they have come to a dead end from where it does not seem her easy to move on with the same relationship. She happens to see the wild bee wandering here and there with such a commitment that it forces her first to vow for her love.
    Then when she saw other creatures, she vowed to love her lover more than all of them, and afterward, she felt lost in nature with poplar trees waving in the air and gull screaming in the skies. However, time passes, and she again comes to the point, thinking that the weather will change and ships will find some places to stay, and likewise, she is there to move on with saying goodbye to her lover with the solace that she still has her beauty and her lover has his art.
  • Major Themes in “Her Voice”: Speed of time, web of love, motivations of love, and final moments of love are some of the major themes. The poet has highlighted the speed of time with the voice of the lady, who happens to be the speaker of this poem. In just four to five stanzas, she sums up how she falls in love and then moves with nature, coming to the point where she thinks that they should part. This web of love is the essence of natural things such as the wild bee, seagulls, popular trees, and even the sunflower. And all of these things prove enough motivation for her to continue loving. That is why she does not think about the passing of time. It speeds away, and she comes to know when it is too late. She has only some moments of consolation to tell her lover that they must part with the consolation and satisfaction that she has her beauty and he has his art, and both can live in this world.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Her Voice

Oscar Wilde used various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of his poem. Some of the major literary devices are analyzed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ and /o/ in “The wild bee reels from bough to bough” and the sound of /o/ in “Swore that two lives should be like one.”
  2. Alliteration: It means to use initial consonant sounds in two or more consecutive words. The poem shows the use of alliteration, such as the sound of /m/ in “mighty murmuring” and /w/ in “world was.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /r / in “Dear friend, those times are over and done” and the sound of /m/ and /s/ in “From the mighty murmuring mystical seas.”
  4. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Oscar Wilde used imagery in this poem such as “The wild bee reels from bough to bough”, “Sit closer love: it was here I trow” and “Swore that two lives should be like one.”
  5. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet used the metaphors of the bee, sunflower, and poplar trees to show the love of the lady for her lover.
  6. Personification: It means to attribute human emotions to inanimate objects. The poet has used the personification of the sunflower in that it seeks the sun like a human being or the trees that sway like human beings.
  7. Rhetorical Question: It is a device in which a question is asked not to get an answer but to emphasize the main idea. The poem shows the use of rhetorical questions such as “Is that a star?” or “What does it see that we do not see?.”
  8. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols, such as bough, jacinth, wing, bee, and swearing to show the power of love.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Her Voice”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows formal, poetic and indifferent diction.
  2. End Rhyme: It means to use verses having matching end words. Oscar Wilde shows the use of end rhyme, such as bough/now/trow/vow and wing/swing.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem shows the rhyme scheme of ABABBAA in all of its stanzas.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are six stanzas with each comprising seven verses.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a loving, indifferent, descriptive, and then nostalgic tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when talking about consoling the distraught lover.

And there is nothing left to do
But to kiss once again, and part,
Nay, there is nothing we should rue,
I have my beauty,—you your Art,
Nay, do not start,
One world was not enough for two
Like me and you.