johnkeats.org

The Romantic Movement

The Enigma of Emily Jane Bronte

 

 

I visited the Bronte Parsonage in 1986, and took this rather poor photo of it.



Emily Jane Bronte is undoubtedly the most mysterious female author of the 19th century.  So little is actually known of the real woman that an accurate biography of her would  be impossible.  Add to this the  facts that much of her work was destroyed by Charlotte and that Charlotte, being so biased, did not give us a true picture of her sister, and we are left with an incomplete sketch of this Mystic Child of the Moors.  Some of her poems follow.

 
STARS
  
Ah! why, because the dazzling sun
Restored our Earth to joy,
Have you departed, every one,
And left a desert sky?
 
 All through the night, your glorious eyes
Were gazing down in mine,
And, with a full heart's thankful sighs,
I blessed that watch divine.
  
I was at peace, and drank your beams
As they were life to me;
And revelled in my changeful dreams,
Like petrel on the sea.
 
Thought followed thought, star followed star,
Through boundless regions, on;
While one sweet influence, near and far,
Thrilled through, and proved us one! 
 
Why did the morning dawn to break 
So great, so pure, a spell; 
And scorch with fire the tranquil cheek, 
Where your cool radiance fell?
  
Blood-red, he rose, and, arrow-straight, 
His fierce beams struck my brow; 
The soul of nature sprang, elate, 
But mine sank sad and low!
   
My lids closed down, yet through their veil 
I saw him, blazing, still, 
And steep in gold the misty dale, 
And flash upon the hill.
   
I turned me to the pillow, then, 
To call back night, and see 
Your worlds of solemn light, again, 
Throb with my heart, and me!
   
It would not do--the pillow glowed, 
And glowed both roof and floor; 
And birds sang loudly in the wood, 
And fresh winds shook the door;
  
The curtains waved, the wakened flies 
Were murmuring round my room, 
Imprisoned there, till I should rise, 
And give them leave to roam.
   
Oh, stars, and dreams, and gentle night; 
Oh, night and stars, return! 
And hide me from the hostile light 
That does not warm, but burn;
   
That drains the blood of suffering men; 
Drinks tears, instead of dew; 
Let me sleep through his blinding reign, 
And only wake with you!
 
 


REMEMBRANCE
 
 
 
Cold in the earth--and the deep snow piled above thee,
 
Far, far, removed, cold in the dreary grave!
 
Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
 
Severed at last by Time's all-severing wave?
 
 
 
Now, when alone, do my thoughts no longer hover
 
Over the mountains, on that northern shore,
 
Resting their wings where heath and fern-leaves cover
 
Thy noble heart for ever, ever more?
 
 
 
Cold in the earth--and fifteen wild Decembers,
 
From those brown hills, have melted into spring:
 
Faithful, indeed, is the spirit that remembers
 
After such years of change and suffering!
 
 
 
Sweet Love of youth, forgive, if I forget thee,
 
While the world's tide is bearing me along;
 
Other desires and other hopes beset me,
 
Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong!
 
 
 
No later light has lightened up my heaven,
 
No second morn has ever shone for me;
 
All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given,
 
All my life's bliss is in the grave with thee.
 
 
 
But, when the days of golden dreams had perished,
 
And even Despair was powerless to destroy;
 
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
 
Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy.
 
 
 
Then did I check the tears of useless passion--
 
Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
 
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
 
Down to that tomb already more than mine.
 
 
 
And, even yet, I dare not let it languish,
 
Dare not indulge in memory's rapturous pain;
 
Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
 
How could I seek the empty world again?
 
 
 
 
 
LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

 
Love is like the wild rose-briar;
 
Friendship like the holly-tree.
 
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms,
 
But which will bloom most constantly?
 
 
 
The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring,
 
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
 
Yet wait till winter comes again,
 
And who will call the wild-briar fair?
 
 
 
Then, scorn the silly rose-wreath now,
 
And deck thee with the holly's sheen,
 
That, when December blights thy brow,
 
He still may leave thy garland green.
 
 
 Anne Bronte's Last Poem, With Comments by Charlotte
 
 
 
 

I have given the last memento of my sister Emily; this is the last
of my sister Anne:--
 
I hoped, that with the brave and strong,
My portioned task might lie;
To toil amid the busy throng,
With purpose pure and high.
 
But God has fixed another part,
And He has fixed it well;
I said so with my bleeding heart,
When first the anguish fell.
 
Thou, God, hast taken our delight,
Our treasured hope away:
Thou bid'st us now weep through the night
And sorrow through the day.
 
These weary hours will not be lost,
These days of misery,
These nights of darkness, anguish-tost,
Can I but turn to Thee.
 
With secret labour to sustain
In humble patience every blow;
To gather fortitude from pain,
And hope and holiness from woe.
 
Thus let me serve Thee from my heart,
Whate'er may be my written fate:
Whether thus early to depart,
Or yet a while to wait.
 
If Thou shouldst bring me back to life,
More humbled I should be;
More wise--more strengthened for the strife--
More apt to lean on Thee.
 
Should death be standing at the gate,
Thus should I keep my vow:
But, Lord! whatever be my fate,
Oh, let me serve Thee now!
 
 
These lines written, the desk was closed, the pen laid aside--
for ever.