Reading Gaol

The other day my darlin’ asked for a reading suggestion. After looking through a few newly-unpacked books, I returned downstairs with some choices for him and a treat for me: The Complete Works of Oscar WildeMy reading for the night was “The Ballad of Reading Gaol“.

I know that Oscar Wilde isn’t for everyone. I also recognize he had a publicly scandalous past. Still, he wrote a few real gems!

“The Ballad of Reading Gaol” (pronounced redding jail) is a longer poem than you might expect. In it you follow a prisoner as he sees and considers a man soon to die. It’s a powerful piece. You may read it in full here.

In it, there’s a repeated line: “Yet each  man kills the thing he loves.” It struck me how very true that is on numerous levels:

  • The sinner, by the wages of his sin, kills himself, who he loves above all else.
  • The Christian, by the power of the Holy Spirit, drowns his old Adam, despite lingering sin.
  • He who loves his life loses it.
  • We hurt those we love.
  • This may be more of a stretch, of course, but JESUS kills the thing He loves as, by the incarnation, He gives His life, His human flesh and blood, as a seed for the crop and harvest of redeemed mankind.

I can’t recall all the thoughts I had while reading that poem, but it really is a masterful piece. So I thought I’d share. 🙂

Happy reading and writing!

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