Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Ballad of Reading Gaol, by C. 3. 3. [Oscar Wilde]

Not long ago, I received a CD collection of Robert Burns readings from Tony Knight. In exchange, I offered to send him one of my books. The author of a journal himself, he chose One Hand Clapping. Upon its arrival, seeing how heavy it was and how much it had cost to mail, he surprised me by saying he’d hurried off an early edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Here it is, wearing a simple dust jacket based on the title page:

The Ballad of Reading Gaol
by C. 3. 3. [Oscar Wilde]

Leonard Smithers


[click to enlarge]

And here is the title page itself, followed by the first page of the poem:

[click to enlarge]

[click to enlarge]

And so, once again, I’m the lucky recipient of an enticingly aromatic volume with a mild case of the measles. I know this: Tony’s a better man than I, for I doubt I could have parted with it.


Conrad DiDiodato said...

Oscar Wilde's "Reading Gaol" is very beautiful, very tragic.

William Michaelian said...

I love it. And to echo your refrain, two verses, that latter, of course, which has been oft repeated:

“The Chaplain would not kneel to pray
By his dishonoured grave:
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross
That Christ for sinners gave,
Because the man was one of those
Whom Christ came down to save.”

— Part IV, Page 25

“And all men kill the thing they love,
By all 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!”

— Conclusion

Thanks, Conrad.

Ed Baker said...


I have a first edition of De Profundus

(don't have Reading Goal)

and I have a 1 st paper edition
of that neat bio-novel (of Desmond's) I Give You Oscar Wilde

also an early edition (paper) of SOLOME w all of the Beardley drawings/prints

ahhhh...when I stick my nose into these I am transported to my other realities ....

I also have a first printin of OW's Fairy Stories

William Michaelian said...

Well, Ed, judging by that living room layout of yours, I’d say you know plenty about first editions. If I ever make it out your way, I promise to inhale.

Ed Baker said...


now that I got the hang of this computer
from time to time look
around to see what this-book or that-book is
selling for. & am
blown away at that some of these thins that i bougt new in the 50's and 60's and 70's for
say $1.50

are now replaceable at $200, $300 $400 !

and, the things pre 1974 that I have from poets I've met who signed things to me ....

had I not dropped out (1974-1998) and had stayed with it
I'd now be worth 2.3 million bucks

as it is now

what was an about 2,500 volume library is now down to about 300 books plus my own

all feeding dust motes.

anyway drop by anytime especially when you have less time.

OH and that Royal you show .. I got as my new, spare typewriter same model... rusted out my Underwood #5

the typewriter that really was Erotic