The Harlot's House

(Lyrics: Oscar Wilde. Music: A. Hunt & A. Stainer)


We caught the tread of dancing feet / We loitered down the moonlit street / And stopped beneath the harlot's house / Inside, above the din and fray / We heard the loud musicians play / The 'Treues Liebes Herz' of Strauss


Like strange mechanical grotesques / Making fantastic arabesques / The shadows raced across the blind / We watched the ghostly dancers spin / To sound of horn and violin / Like black leaves wheeling in the wind


Like wire-pulled automatons / Slim silhouetted skeletons / Went sidling through the slow quadrille / They took each other by the hand / And danced a stately saraband; / Their laughter echoed thin and shrill


Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed / A phantom lover to her breast / Sometimes they seemed to try to sing / Sometimes a horrible marionette / Came out, and smoked its cigarette /  

Upon the steps like a live thing.


Then, turning to my love, I said / “The dead are dancing with the dead / The dust is whirling with the dust” / But she - she heard the violin / And left my side, and entered in / Love passed into the house of lust


Then suddenly the tune went false / The dancers wearied of the waltz / The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl / And down the long and silent street / The dawn, with silver-sandaled feet / Crept like a frightened girl