The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde
3 May 2003


I love the meter of this poem, I am impressed by Wilde's skilful control of its flow and strike and the evocative images used. The question raised I have heard many times before - "For each man kills the thing he loves / Yet each man does not die". But I never understood before about "that little tent of blue/which prisoners call the sky". That is to say, I never realised that the famous couplet was part of a long and agonised quest for truth about love and death: "the kindest use a knife".

There isn't too much I can say in praise. I understand the form of ballad, so I can see that this ballad is technically perfect. It is emotionally beautiful and intellectually appealing. So it's too good to comment on, you know? I love it, but it's got less stylistic scope for analysis than much blank verse. I understand immediately, so there's not so much hard work in reading Wilde's creation.


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