Against these turbid turquoise skies
The light and luminous balloons
Dip and drift like satin moons,
Drift like silken butterflies;

Reel with every windy gust,
Rise and reel like dancing girls,
Float like strange transparent pearls,
Fall and float like silver dust.

Now to the low leaves they cling,
Each with coy fantastic pose,
Each a petal of a rose
Straining at a gossamer string.

Then to the tall trees they climb,
Like thin globes of amethyst,
Wandering opals keeping tryst
With the rubies of the lime.

Kathryn Rhoads explained in an e-mail of 26 April 2010 that “apparently lime was used to make artificial sapphires. Wilde maybe be referring to lime the chemical and not lime the color.” She cites the discussion of artificial gems at

Discussion questions


Source of text: Project Gutenberg: Oscar Wilde. Poems; etext was produced by David Price, email

Last modified 21 April 2008