Requiescat by Oscar Wilde
“Requiescat” is one of Oscar Wilde‘s most poignant works, capturing the deep sorrow of losing a young, innocent life. Found within Wilde’s first poetry compilation Poems, this piece stands as a testament to Wilde’s ability to convey profound emotions with elegance and simplicity. For those interested in immersing themselves further into Wilde’s poetic universe, Poems is available for reading at PageVio.
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.
2. Requiescat Analysis
This poem is a touching tribute to a deceased young woman. Let’s break it down stanza by stanza:
Tread lightly, she is near / Under the snow, / Speak gently, she can hear / The daisies grow.
The opening lines immediately set a melancholic and respectful tone. The speaker asks for reverence for the deceased who lies under the snow, suggesting she has been buried and that it might be winter. The mention of her being able to “hear the daisies grow” is a poetic way to emphasize her connection to nature even in death, suggesting a delicate and intimate presence.
All her bright golden hair / Tarnished with rust, / She that was young and fair / Fallen to dust.
The speaker remembers the deceased’s beauty, particularly her golden hair, which is now “tarnished with rust,” a metaphor for the decaying process after death. The vivid contrast between the vibrant life and the unavoidable decay of death is poignantly portrayed here.
Lily-like, white as snow, / She hardly knew / She was a woman, so / Sweetly she grew.
The speaker further describes the deceased’s innocence and purity, comparing her to a lily, which is often associated with purity and innocence. The lines suggest that she died young, before she could fully realize her womanhood.
Coffin-board, heavy stone, / Lie on her breast, / I vex my heart alone, / She is at rest.
The weight of the coffin and the grave stone are emphasized, symbolizing the heaviness of death and loss. While the deceased is at rest and free from worldly pain, the speaker is left to grapple with grief and sorrow, emphasized by “I vex my heart alone.”
Peace, Peace, she cannot hear / Lyre or sonnet, / All my life’s buried here, / Heap earth upon it.
The refrain “Peace, Peace” may be a plea for the deceased or perhaps for the speaker’s own troubled heart. The deceased is beyond the reach of any song or poetry, reinforcing the finality of death. The line “All my life’s buried here” reflects the depth of the speaker’s grief, as though his entire life and essence are buried with the deceased. The speaker’s despair and longing for closure are evident in the final line, suggesting a desire to join the deceased in eternal rest.
In summary, this poem is a mournful reflection on the death of a young, innocent woman and the profound grief experienced by the speaker. The poem’s language is rich with imagery and emotion, painting a poignant picture of love, loss, and the inexorable passage of time.
Size: 8″ x 12″ (2:3 ratio)
Copyright information: For personal use only
Note: Actual poster background color is white. For the sample poster, the background is made gray for illustration purpose.