Yet each man kills the thing he loves
The Ballad of Reading Gaol was written in exile. Oscar Wilde had been imprisoned in Reading after being convicted of homosexual offences in 1895 and sentenced to two years' hard labor.
During Wilde's incarceration in 1896, a former Royal Horse Guard, 30 years old Charles Thomas Wooldridge had been hanged for cutting his wife's throat. The poem portrays the execution. Wilde makes no attempts to assess the justice of the laws, but the poem's focal point is the brutalization of the punishment that all convicts share.
Also, this collection contains the Wilde's poems volume of 1881 in its entirety.