Just as I did in February, I made sure during this recent Dublin trip to visit Oscar Wilde lounging–this time in the rain–on his fabulously stylish boulder in Merrion Square.

No less dashing in stone than he presumably was in flesh, Wilde managed to attract an adoring crowd of dripping tourists (myself included) who braved brimming puddles to pose and snap photos. One college girl tried to climb atop Wilde’s boulder to sit alongside him but was discouraged by wet, slippery footing; it’s probably just as good that she didn’t find a comfortable perch since an official-looking park vehicle soon passed nearby, leading her to pose primly below Wilde’s smirking gaze.

I was introduced to Oscar Wilde in grad school, encountering him first in a class devoted to pre-Modernist British literature and next in a PhD seminar on gender in 19th and 20th century British and American literature. In that latter class, I read Wilde alongside Walt Whitman, and the readerly affection I felt for Whitman carried by extension to Wilde. Despite differences in style and genre, both Whitman and Wilde were transitional figures, pushing the envelope of Victorian propriety from their respective sides of the Atlantic. Sensing that Whitman and Wilde were kindred spirits, I’m heartened to know that the two writers met in America in 1881, after which meeting Wilde claimed to carry Whitman’s lingering kiss on his lips.

A famed aesthete, Wilde is immortalized in Merrion Square in a lanquid pose and fabulously colorful dress. No shrinking violet, Wilde would have loved the fact that his statue is flanked by two nude figures arranged for his visual delectation. Whereas the figure of a nude female looks demurely over one shoulder as if to see whether Wilde is admiring her…

…the true object of Wilde’s leering delight is the bare backside of a well-chiseled male torso.

Contemplating the shapely stud Oscar Wilde admires from his stony seat in Merrion Square, I have to imagine that Walt Whitman lies jealous in his grave, disappointed that his status as America’s Good Gray Poet didn’t afford him the same opportunities for flamboyant decadence that Oscar Wilde still apparently enjoys. Can you imagine the outcry here in the States if Whitman or any other male American poet were depicted enjoying the sight of some athletic male ass? Dubliners might be finnicky when it comes to the closure of their park gates, but at least they don’t expect the likes of Oscar Wilde to stay in the proverbial closet.