The observations of Oscar Wilde, born Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde in Dublin in 1854, seem just as sharp and current today as they did a century ago. So many of the very best Irish quotes are from Wilde that we thought it made sense to dedicate a page to him.
Oscar Wilde, unfortunately, died penniless and lonely in 1900, after two years of hard prison labor resulting from a sexual affair with the Marquess of Queensberry's son. He is buried, along with many other luminaries of his era, in Pere LaChaise Cemetery in Paris.
"The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young."
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance."
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."
"Bore: a man who is never unintentionally rude."
"Being natural is simply a pose."
"Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only the shallow people who do not judge by appearances."
"As yet, Bernard Shaw hasn't become prominent enough to have any enemies, but none of his friends like him."
"Anyone can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend's success."
"A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing."
"A grand passion is the privelege of people who have nothing to do."
"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."
"A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction."
"A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
"A woman begins by resisting a man's advances, and ends by blocking his retreat."
"A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life."
"Action is the last refuge of those who cannot dream."
"All art is quite useless."
"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling."
"Sin is the only real colour element left in modern life."
"Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow."
"Rich bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than others."
"Popularity is the one insult I have never suffered."
"People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately."
"Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious."
"One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art."
"Of course America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up."
"Women are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are. That is the difference between the sexes."
"Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives."
"When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers."
"When I was young, I thought money was the most important thing in life. Now, when I'm old, I know it is."
"We teach people how to remember, we never teach them how to grow."
"To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable."
"There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love."
"The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius."
"The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything."
"The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death."
“A man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies."
"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
"Men always want to be a woman's first love. Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance."
"Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known."
“I can resist everything except temptation."
“Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same."
"As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she is perfectly satisfied."
"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."
"True friends stab you in the front."
“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."
“The only thing that can console one for being poor is extravagance."
"Do not be afraid of the past. If people tell you that it is irrevocable, do not believe them. The past, the present and the future are but one moment in the sight of God, in whose sight we should try to live. Time and space, succession and extension, are merely accidental conditions of thought. The imagination can transcend them."
“Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience."
"A poet can survive everything but a misprint."
"A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
"Bernard Shaw is an excellent man; he has not an enemy in the world, and none of his friends like him."
"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling."
“As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular."
“The proper basis for marriage is mutual misunderstanding."
"He was always late on principle; his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time."
"I never put off till tomorrow what I can do the day after."
"Anybody can make history; only a great man can write it."
“Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people."
"The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is unread."
“Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much."
"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."
Wilde Poem: "My Voice"
Within this restless, hurried, modern world
We took our hearts' full pleasure--You and I,
And now the white sails of our ship are furled,
And spent the lading of our argosy.
Wherefore my cheeks before their time are wan,
For very weeping is my gladness fled,
Sorrow hath paled my lip's vermilion,
And Ruin draws the curtains of my bed.
But all this crowded life has been to thee
No more than lyre, or lute, or subtle spell
Of viols, or the music of the sea
That sleeps, a mimic echo, in the shell.