Poetry Corner – Requiescat


Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone
She is at rest.

Peace, Peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life’s buried here,
Heap earth upon it.

‘Requiescat’ is from the Latin for ‘may he (or she) rest in peace’. which provides a clue to the poem’s meaning. He wrote it for his own sister. Isola Wilde was nine years old when she died, while recovering from a fever, in Ireland. Wilde was twelve years old when she died. Her death affected Wilde greatly. According to records from their mother, Lady Jane Wilde, the cause of Isola’s death was ‘a sudden effusion on the brain’.

Wilde does not want to forget his sister, or ‘bury her,’ and yet at the same time he knows that to a degree he must do that.

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