Friday, March 18, 2011

"How else but through a broken heart may Lord Christ enter in?"

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.

And every human heart that breaks,
In prison-cell or yard,
Is as that broken box that gave
It's treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean leper's house
With the scent of costliest nard.

Ah! happy they whose hearts can break
And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his plan
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?

-Oscar Wilde, extract from The Ballad of Reading Gaol (deathbed convert to the Catholic Church)


  1. Hi Mike! You have a nice blog over here!

    Just writing to say that I love this little known poem from Wilde. I'm glad you posted it. So often people think of this author as a champion for the so-called "sexual revolution," but he had a troubled relationship with his sexuality and his religious faith. He's actually quoted as saying something along the lines of, "had I been raised Catholic, I would have escaped many of the sins of my adult life" -- something like that (obviously this is not an exact quotation). (I wrote a post about this a few months ago ... I should remember these things!)

  2. Thank-you!

    I think the quote you may be referring to is one he gave to a newspaper correspondant three weeks before his death:

    "...much of my moral obliquity is due to the fact that my father would not allow me to become a Catholic. The artistic side of the Church and the fragrance of its teaching would have cured my degeneracies. I intend to be received before long."

    If you could link to that post, I would love to read it. Thanks! :-)

  3. Yes! That's the one! Shame on me for forgetting :)

    The post was actually ostensibly on Joseph Pearce's book "Literary Giants, Literary Catholics," but I discuss Wilde in the context of my larger review.

    I hope you like it!

    God bless!

  4. That was a wonderful review! :-) It is so true how so often only certain facts are revealed, all in order to portray authors in a certain light!

    In any case, Literary Giants, Literary Catholics was where I first came across mention of that poem by Wilde. I did read the poem a few months ago, though sadly, I have never got around to actually reading Pearce's book (however, I have skimmed many parts of it.)