De Profundis – an excerpt by Oscar Wilde


All trials are trials for one’s life, just as all sentences are sentences
of death; and three times have I been tried. The first time I left the
box to be arrested, the second time to be led back to the house of
detention, the third time to pass into a prison for two years. Society,
as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer;
but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have
clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence
I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may
walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my
footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in
great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.

Oscar Wilde

Notes: a “from the depths” epistle to Lord Alfred Douglas. Written during Wilde’s imprisonment in Reading Gaol. Click here to read the full text of De Profundis.

Suggested further reading: The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde

About Russell Boyle

Russell Boyle is a mathematics teacher, writer, and poet. His poetry anthologies are titled The Beginning, Footprints and Loneliness. Russell is the author of the Year 7 to 8 Mathematics Short-Answer Tasks, the Year 7 to 10 Mathematics Multiple-Choice Tasks, the Year 9 to 10 Extended-Response Tasks, the solutions to the Year 12 VCAA Mathematics Exams and the Web-Programming For Beginners series of courses. Sample poems and questions may be downloaded from
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6 Responses to De Profundis – an excerpt by Oscar Wilde

  1. To see a recently discovered ambrotype of Oscar Wilde, made in the U. S. in 1882, visit, then click on his name.


  2. Aquileana says:

    Great text. Thanks for sharing Russell… Best wishes, Aquileana 😉

  3. cindy knoke says:

    Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker never ever, ever go out of stye! Love this~

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