Heap Earth Upon It

Wilde scholars have always known Oscar and Isola were close. There is a moving account of Oscar’s inconsolable grief following his sister’s death. As a child he frequently visited Isola’s grave, and decorated an envelope to preserve a lock of her hair, which he kept all his life. There’s also a description of Oscar in adulthood, recalling his sister “dancing like a golden sunbeam about the house”. In Wilde’s poem Requiescat (1881), written in memory of Isola, his love for her is palpable:

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.

Avignon.

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