The Song in The Importance of Being Earnest: LRP May meme

I’ve read two classics so far this month; one of them is The Great Gatsby and the other The Importance of Being Earnest. In my review of Importance, you can also read my thoughts about the 2002 adaptation. And for this month’s Let’s Read Plays meme which theme is music, I chose to feature the soundtrack from The Importance of Being Earnest 2002 adaptation.

On one scene in the adaptation after Gwendolen and Cecily found out that their “Ernest” were not exactly who they say they were, Jack and Algernon tried to woo the ladies back by singing one song “Lady Come Down”. To my surprise, it was Oscar Wilde himself who wrote the lyrics of this song! Yep, “Lady Come Down” was originally his 1881 poem, titled “Serenade.” Here is the poem:


The western wind is blowing fair
        Across the dark Ægean sea,
   And at the secret marble stair
        My Tyrian galley waits for thee.
   Come down! the purple sail is spread,
        The watchman sleeps within the town,
   O leave thy lily-flowered bed,
        O Lady mine come down, come down! 

   She will not come, I know her well,
        Of lover’s vows she hath no care,
   And little good a man can tell
        Of one so cruel and so fair.
   True love is but a woman’s toy,
        They never know the lover’s pain,
   And I who loved as loves a boy
        Must love in vain, must love in vain.

   O noble pilot tell me true
        Is that the sheen of golden hair?
   Or is it but the tangled dew
        That binds the passion-flowers there?
   Good sailor come and tell me now
         Is that my Lady’s lily hand?
   Or is it but the gleaming prow,
        Or is it but the silver sand?

   No! no! ’tis not the tangled dew,
       ‘Tis not the silver-fretted sand,
   It is my own dear Lady true
       With golden hair and lily hand! 
   O noble pilot steer for Troy,
       Good sailor ply the labouring oar,
   This is the Queen of life and joy
     Whom we must bear from Grecian shore!

   The waning sky grows faint and blue,
      It wants an hour still of day,
   Aboard! aboard! my gallant crew,
      O Lady mine away! away!
   O noble pilot steer for Troy,
       Good sailor ply the labouring oar,
   O loved as only loves a boy!
      O loved for ever evermore!


However, “Lady Come Down” only used the first two verses of the poem. This scene is utterly one improvisation by the filmmakers, since Jack and Algy didn’t sing anything in the original play, they just “whistle some dreadful popular air from a British Opera” (on Act III). But I adore that they used something written by Oscar Wilde for this improvisation.


Although the scene was pretty short, I can’t help but laugh looking at Colin Firth and Rupert Everett singing and playing music to woo the ladies. If you’re curious, just watch the video below. I would be seriously dumbfounded if you didn’t at least smile while watching it!

“Lady Come Down”
Music written by Charlie Mole
Lyrics by Oscar Wilde
Performed by Colin Firth and Rupert Everett
Courtesy of Fragile Music Ltd. (Credits from IMDb)

6 thoughts on “The Song in The Importance of Being Earnest: LRP May meme

  1. Glad I ran across this in my Google search! It’s a delightful little song & to learn it was actually a Wilde poem makes it even more fun. Thanks for the post.


  2. Fascinating! I watched the movie recently and was intrigued by the song – I love that it turns out they used Oscar Wilde’s words, even though it wasn’t included in the original play.


  3. Not only is this of the lightest and wittiest plays I’ve ever read, but the 2002 adaptation is also one of my favorite films to watch when I’m in the mood for whimsy. I think it does an exemplary job of finding some wiggle room for artistic license while staying true to the themes and tone–truly an homage to Oscar Wilde.

    Liked by 1 person

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