Meeting Oscar Wilde

Musings, Reading, Travel / Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

My best date ever. ๐ŸŒน

I have been in love with Oscar Wilde since I read ‘A Picture of Dorian Gray.’ I love the writer’s wit, humor, and brevity that still brims with soul. The novel was considered vulgar for its homosexual overtones and was banned. Wilde anticipated this already with a classic quote from the novel:

โ€œThe books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.โ€

Wilde, of course, fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas and led a double life, unable to live freely in a society that condemned him for falling in love with a man. And to think that even now, we live in such a society.

But back to Wilde. 

Like so many great writers, tragedy marked his life. Oscar spent the last few years of his life in prison, found guilty of ‘gross indecency,’ and sentenced to hard labor. Not that he stopped writing there, too, with much of what he wrote in prison published after his death. 

Lonely and let down, Oscar died bankrupt and shunned by society.

When I visited Dublin in 2018, it was ostensibly to see my friend, Travelling Birdy. But really, it was to visit Wilde’s birthplace.

I walked through Trinity College, where Wilde studied. And looked in awe at The Long Room, easily one of the most beautiful libraries in the world and where Wilde is known to have spent long hours reading.

I wanted to just sit down and spend time there, but there were equally awed people constantly roaming in and around, and it wasnโ€™t to be.ย 

So off I went then for my real date. To the flamboyantly reclining Wilde set in stone in a park near Merrion Square.

There were already a few red roses at his feet. I picked up a rose and offered him one – the only time I have ever offered anyone a red rose. He didnโ€™t seem to particularly care, but that seemed to be keeping with the man. A childrenโ€™s playground is adjacent, a tribute to Wildeโ€™s fantastic fables for children.ย 

His childhood home, too, is just across the park, but for some strange reason, I didn’t go there.

It seemed enough just to be here and think of how writers can leave indelible impressions in our hearts, even from a decayed past.

My favorite quote from him?

“๐—ช๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ด๐˜‚๐˜๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ฏ๐˜‚๐˜ ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜‚๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜€.”

On days when life seems hopeless, I think of this line from my own special place in the gutter and look for my own star.

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