The writer writes a letter directed to someone personally. He starts off the letter by talking about his suffering and the pain he felt having to go to prison. He then starts talking about his realization of having ruined himself with his reckless behavior and indulgence in perverse pleasures of life. Having spent some time in prison he realizes that what he needs to do is be humble, to take part in humility.
In order to reinvent himself, to reinvent his individuality he needs to accept his sorrow. Religion, morality nor reason can help him, only his sorrow. The writer then talks about how people advised him to forget about prison once he gets out but he realizes now that would be wrong because it would mean that he would be haunted by the feeling of injustice that he was in prison in the first place. He needs to accept it as a part of his life in order to be happy and in order to be free. In his newfound spiritual awakening the writer is determined to see beauty in his experience.
The writer then talks about being angry when he was first imprisoned. He felt rage and gloom and at the time thought when he gets out he will walk angry at the world and force people to participate in his gloom. He is different now; he wants the people who visit him to walk out happy seeing that he is well. He then contemplates sorrow and how it brings out spiritual awakening and completeness in an individual. Sorrow results in the perfection of art; it is the complete balance of body and soul, of outward mirroring the inward in an individual.
The writer then connects sorrow and suffering to God. Sorrow is connected to love and with sorrow the soul of man reaches perfection. He talks about his thoughts regarding Christ and how Christ is connected to art, to the perfection of art. The writer talks about Christ being the most supreme individualist and how most of the romantic movement of art is based Christ.
He then talks about how his going to prison isn't a horrible ending but a wonderful beginning, and how if he left the prison earlier full of hatred it would have a devastating effect on his life. He recalls how people laughed at him when he was on the street in a convict dress and how that event haunted him for a long time, but now he feels pity for their lack of pity because only a person lacking in soul would mock another soul in pain.
The writer finishes his letter by telling how when he gets out the first thing he will do is enjoy nature. He notes that too many people talk about the beauty of nature but too few actually go out and feel and enjoy it. Nature will heal and cleanse him and make him whole again.