The Ballad Of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde (Happy St. Patricks Day)


The Ballad Of Reading Gaol
by Oscar Wilde

I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in gaol
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.

But this I know, that every Law
That men hath made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother’s life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.

This too I know – and wise it were
If each could know the same –
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun;
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!

Oscar Wilde is an Irish poet and dramatist who became popular because of his comic masterpieces, “Lady Windermere’s Fan” and “The Importance of Being Earnest”. He also wrote other celebrated works, such as the novel entitled “The Picture of Dorian” and a fairy tale entitled “The Happy Prince”.

Wilde was born in Dublin on October 16, 1894 by Lady Jane Francesca Wilde and Sir William Wilde. He finished his B.A. in 1878 from Magdalen College in Oxford. In 1882, he did lectures in Canada and the United States and he eventually resided in Paris by 1883. During the mid-1880s, he was a regular contributor to Pall Mall Gazette and Dramatic View. He married Constance Lloyd and had two sons with her but their marriage ended in 1893.

Wilde’s fame ended when his intimate relation with Lord Alfred Douglas paved the way to his court case on homosexuality charges. He was convicted to the crime of sodomy and was penalised with two years of hard labour. During his ordeal, he wrote “De Profundis” which was a monologue and autobiography addressed to Alfred Douglas.

The last work he did was “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”, which revealed inhumane prison conditions at that time. Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on November 30,1900 at the age of 46.

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