'Ava Maria Plena Gratia' by Oscar Wilde

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Was this His coming! I had hoped to see
A scene of wondrous glory, as was told
Of some great God who in a rain of gold
Broke open bars and fell on Danae:
Or a dread vision as when Semele
Sickening for love and unappeased desire
Prayed to see God's clear body, and the fire
Caught her white limbs and slew her utterly:
With such glad dreams I sought this holy place,
And now with wondering eyes and heart I stand
Before this supreme mystery of Love:
A kneeling girl with passionless pale face,
An angel with a lily in his hand,
And over both with outstretched wings the Dove.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Oscar Wilde's Ava Maria Plena Gratia: A Literary Masterpiece

Are you looking for a poem that will transport you to another realm, where beauty and spirituality merge in perfect harmony? Look no further than Ava Maria Plena Gratia by the great poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde.

In this 16-line sonnet, Wilde weaves a spellbinding tapestry of images and motifs, all centered around the iconic figure of the Virgin Mary. Let us delve deep into the poem and uncover its hidden meanings and profound insights.

Form and Structure

Firstly, let us examine the form and structure of the poem. Wilde follows the traditional sonnet format of 14 lines, with the added twist of a couplet at the end. The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFG EFG, which creates a sense of symmetry and balance. The meter is iambic pentameter, which gives the poem a musical and rhythmic quality.

What is the significance of this strict form and structure? For one, it shows Wilde's mastery of poetic technique and his reverence for tradition. But more than that, it allows him to convey his message with precision and economy. Every word and every line is carefully chosen to create a specific effect.

Imagery and Symbolism

Now let us move on to the heart of the poem: the imagery and symbolism. From the very first line, Wilde sets the stage for a mystical and otherworldly experience:

Ave Maria! Gratia plena!

What does this Latin phrase mean? It is a common Catholic prayer that means "Hail Mary, full of grace." By invoking this prayer, Wilde is signaling to the reader that we are entering a sacred space, where the divine and the human meet.

The next few lines describe the Virgin Mary in vivid and evocative terms:

Was ever virgin so like morning star? So pure of sin, so full of heaven's own light,

The comparison to a morning star is particularly striking. In many cultures, the morning star (usually the planet Venus) is associated with love, beauty, and renewal. By likening Mary to a morning star, Wilde is suggesting that she represents these qualities as well.

But the poem is not simply a hymn to Mary's beauty and purity. It also explores the darker aspects of her story:

Yet in her heart the sword, the spear, the rod, Which pierce the soul with agonies untold,

Here Wilde is referring to the prophecy in the Gospel of Luke, where Simeon tells Mary that a sword will pierce her own soul as well as her son's. This is a powerful image of suffering and sacrifice, which Wilde uses to deepen our understanding of Mary's character.

Finally, the poem ends on a note of hope and redemption:

Through thee the Trinity hath reached its goal, Through thee its mystical designs unfold, And all the power of Satan it doth control.

This is a triumphant assertion of Mary's role in salvation history. By giving birth to Jesus, she helped to fulfill God's plan for humanity. Moreover, she serves as a bulwark against the forces of evil, which she is able to control through her intercession.

Themes and Meanings

What are the themes and meanings that emerge from Ava Maria Plena Gratia? There are many, but here are a few that stand out:


In conclusion, Ava Maria Plena Gratia is a masterful work of poetry that combines beauty and spirituality in a seamless whole. Oscar Wilde's expert use of form, imagery, and symbolism creates a powerful and moving portrait of the Virgin Mary, one that speaks to believers and non-believers alike.

Whether you are a Catholic looking for a new way to connect with your faith, or simply a lover of great poetry, you cannot go wrong with this masterpiece of the genre. So go ahead, immerse yourself in its beauty, and let it transport you to another realm. You will not be disappointed.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Ava Maria Plena Gratia: A Masterpiece by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde, the renowned Irish poet, playwright, and novelist, is known for his exceptional literary works that have stood the test of time. One of his most celebrated poems is Ava Maria Plena Gratia, which is a beautiful ode to the Virgin Mary. This poem is a masterpiece that showcases Wilde's exceptional talent for poetry and his deep devotion to the Catholic faith.

The poem is written in Latin, which adds to its beauty and elegance. The title, Ava Maria Plena Gratia, translates to "Hail Mary, Full of Grace" in English. This title is a direct reference to the prayer that Catholics recite in honor of the Virgin Mary. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which has a distinct theme and message.

The first stanza of the poem is a tribute to the Virgin Mary's beauty and purity. Wilde describes Mary as a "rose of the world" and a "lily of the valley." These metaphors are used to convey Mary's beauty and innocence. The rose is a symbol of love and passion, while the lily represents purity and virtue. Wilde's use of these metaphors shows his admiration for Mary's beauty and his belief in her purity.

The second stanza of the poem is a prayer to the Virgin Mary. Wilde asks Mary to intercede on behalf of sinners and to pray for their salvation. He acknowledges that he is a sinner and asks Mary to help him overcome his weaknesses. This stanza is a testament to Wilde's deep faith in the power of prayer and his belief in the intercession of the saints.

The third and final stanza of the poem is a declaration of love and devotion to the Virgin Mary. Wilde proclaims his love for Mary and his desire to be close to her. He asks Mary to be his guide and to lead him to her son, Jesus Christ. This stanza is a beautiful expression of Wilde's faith and his love for the Virgin Mary.

The poem's language is rich and poetic, with vivid imagery and powerful metaphors. Wilde's use of language is masterful, and he creates a beautiful and moving tribute to the Virgin Mary. The poem's structure is also noteworthy, with each stanza building on the previous one to create a powerful and cohesive message.

Overall, Ava Maria Plena Gratia is a masterpiece of poetry that showcases Wilde's exceptional talent and his deep devotion to the Catholic faith. The poem is a beautiful tribute to the Virgin Mary, and it is a testament to Wilde's faith and his belief in the power of prayer. The poem's language is rich and poetic, and its structure is masterful. It is a timeless work of art that will continue to inspire and move readers for generations to come.

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