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The Ballad of Reading Gaol Quotes - from the poem by Oscar Wilde


How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Alas! it is a fearful thing
To feel another's guilt!
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who lives more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
To dance upon the air!
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other's way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

I walked, with other souls in pain.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man's despair.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

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.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

The vilest deeds like poison-weeds
Bloom well in prison-air;
It is only what is good in Man
That wanders and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate
And the warden is Despair.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

And thus we rust Life's iron chain
Degraded and alone:
And some men curse, and some men weep,
And some men make no moan:
But God's eternal Laws are kind
And break the heart of stone.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol



The Ballad of Reading Gaol - poem by Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright and poet. Written after his release from Reading Gaol on or about 19 May 1897, it was his indictment of the Victorian penal system. Wilde was born Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde on October 16, 1854, and died November 30, 1900.


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