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A Sonnet for Isola

Mon Aug 12th, 2019

150 years ago Isola Wilde died in Edgeworthstown, in Co. Longford. She was the younger sister of Oscar Wilde. She was 9 years old; he was 12. He was devastated. They were in Edgeworthstown with their aunt and uncle, where he was Rector in St. John’s, which was the family church of Maria Edgeworth. The children’s parents were in Dublin, going through a divorce.  When Oscar was 19, he wrote Requiescat, a poem for his dead sister; he was in Avignon at the time, where the popes were in exile in the 13th century. The tragedy haunted him all his life. The original poem, Requiescat, says, “She cannot hear Lyre or Sonnet.” This is for them both:

Isola’s gone: Effusions of the Brain,

In restless rest, an exile in this grave.

My soul bereft that you I could not save,

In grief convulsed by Edgeworth’s church demesne.

And when effusions spread their frightening fare

I was the older, left to share your pain,

That guilt of loss that no one can explain,

That ray of light that faded on your hair.


December chills still swept about the stone

Where others wept their kindred, and were gone,

A faithful heart returns to grieve alone

Remembering still your exiled Avignon.


Requiescat, my heartfelt verse of care,

Sleep, sleep my love, forever in this prayer.