“Requiescat” – A poem by Oscar Wilde

Context : This poem was written by Oscar Wilde and is dedicated to his younger sister, Isola Wilde who died suddenly and unexpected. Wilde was 12 years old when she died in 1867 and her death caused a deep grief in the Wilde family as she was beloved. She was only ten and Oscar made numerous visits to her gravesite in the village. He wrote this poem seven years later. First published in 1881, rev. 1882.

Themes : Death, loss and mourning; as the narrator visits the grave of a loved one. She’s a young woman who died suddenly and the narrator asks us to be careful as we approach her grave where she rests.

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.

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