In reading Oscar Wilde’s letter “De Profundis,” I noticed some striking similarities to the poem “In Memoriam” by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Both works talk of suffering, and Wilde mentions the death of his mother, paralleling Tennyson’s entire poem being about the death of a friend. Wilde states in his letter that “Where there is sorrow there is holy ground.” I understand this to mean that sorrow is in some ways a pact with God, something to be experienced in holy repose, but also has the potential to bring good. After all, we would not have “De Profundis” if Wilde had not befallen upon poor circumstances and if life had not played out in such a way to make him experience so much sorrow. The same could be said of Tennyson, who often meditates on faith and the afterlife in his poem.
Wilde and Tennyson
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