« Bierce, Technology, Satire and Sarcasm | Main | Poems for the Season (St. Valentine's Day) »

Poems of the Bronte Sisters

Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë wrote novels and poetry in the middle of the 19th century. In 1846, while still unknown, they published a combined volume of poems, "Poems, by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell " - using pseudonyms because they thought women as poets would not be taken seriously at the time. The publication cost most of Anne's annual salary as a governess, but was a financial faiure. Not long afterwards, however, all three sisters had success in getting novels published. Agnes Grey, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre were all well recieved, Anne, additionally began to have success getting her poems publishde in magazines and journals.

There was little time to enjoy success, however. Their older brother Branwell died of tuberculosis in September of 1848 after bouts of drug and alcohol addiction following a series of unsuccessful careers and an affair with his employer's wife (the original "Mrs. Robinson"). Within eight months Anne and Emily would also succumb to respiratory illnesses, leaving Charlotte as the only survivor of the original six children.

In 1850 Charlotte re-published the 1846 book of poems, adding her personal comments and additional poems by sisters. While she refers to Emily and Charlotte by name in her comments, their pseudonyms were still used in the title pages. The book can be read in its entirety at http://theotherpages.org/poems/books/bronte/bronte11.html

Ann was the most successful in her brief career as a published poet, though I have a preference for some of Emily's works. Choose for yourself. This edition is based on galley from PG, re-structured into Poets' Corner's Bookshelf II format. The actual poets' names are used in place of the pseudonyms to minimize confusion for modern readers. Italicization should be correct - it is missing from the Wikipedia edition. This version also facilitates browsing, I think, moreso than the other avaialble formats. Nearly 80 of these poems are new to the PC collection.


A sampling:

A Little While, A Little While

A LITTLE while, a little while,
The weary task is put away,
And I can sing and I can smile,
Alike, while I have holiday.

Where wilt thou go, my harassed heart--
What thought, what scene invites thee now
What spot, or near or far apart,
Has rest for thee, my weary brow?

There is a spot, 'mid barren hills,
Where winter howls, and driving rain;
But, if the dreary tempest chills,
There is a light that warms again.

The house is old, the trees are bare,
Moonless above bends twilight's dome;
But what on earth is half so dear--
So longed for--as the hearth of home?

The mute bird sitting on the stone,
The dank moss dripping from the wall,
The thorn-trees gaunt, the walks o'ergrown,
I love them--how I love them all!

Still, as I mused, the naked room,
The alien firelight died away;
And from the midst of cheerless gloom,
I passed to bright, unclouded day.

A little and a lone green lane
That opened on a common wide;
A distant, dreamy, dim blue chain
Of mountains circling every side.

A heaven so clear, an earth so calm,
So sweet, so soft, so hushed an air;
And, deepening still the dream-like charm,
Wild moor-sheep feeding everywhere.

That was the scene, I knew it well;
I knew the turfy pathway's sweep,
That, winding o'er each billowy swell,
Marked out the tracks of wandering sheep.

Could I have lingered but an hour,
It well had paid a week of toil;
But Truth has banished Fancy's power:
Restraint and heavy task recoil.

Even as I stood with raptured eye,
Absorbed in bliss so deep and dear,
My hour of rest had fleeted by,
And back came labour, bondage, care.

Emily Bronte

Evening Solace

THE human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;--
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.
And days may pass in gay confusion,
And nights in rosy riot fly,
While, lost in Fame's or Wealth's illusion,
The memory of the Past may die.

But there are hours of lonely musing,
Such as in evening silence come,
When, soft as birds their pinions closing,
The heart's best feelings gather home.
Then in our souls there seems to languish
A tender grief that is not woe;
And thoughts that once wrung groans of anguish
Now cause but some mild tears to flow.

And feelings, once as strong as passions,
Float softly back--a faded dream;
Our own sharp griefs and wild sensations,
The tale of others' sufferings seem.
Oh! when the heart is freshly bleeding,
How longs it for that time to be,
When, through the mist of years receding,
Its woes but live in reverie!

And it can dwell on moonlight glimmer,
On evening shade and loneliness;
And, while the sky grows dim and dimmer,
Feel no untold and strange distress--
Only a deeper impulse given
By lonely hour and darkened room,
To solemn thoughts that soar to heaven
Seeking a life and world to come.

Charlotte Bronte

In Memory of a Happy Day in February

BLESSED be Thou for all the joy
My soul has felt to-day!
Oh, let its memory stay with me,
And never pass away!

I was alone, for those I loved
Were far away from me;
The sun shone on the withered grass,
The wind blew fresh and free.

Was it the smile of early spring
That made my bosom glow?
'Twas sweet; but neither sun nor wind
Could cheer my spirit so.

Was it some feeling of delight
All vague and undefined?
No; 'twas a rapture deep and strong,
Expanding in the mind.

Was it a sanguine view of life,
And all its transient bliss,
A hope of bright prosperity?
Oh, no! it was not this.

It was a glimpse of truth divine
Unto my spirit given,
Illumined by a ray of light
That shone direct from heaven.

I felt there was a God on high,
By whom all things were made;
I saw His wisdom and His power
In all his works displayed.

But most throughout the moral world,
I saw his glory shine;
I saw His wisdom infinite,
His mercy all divine.

Deep secrets of His providence,
In darkness long concealed,
Unto the vision of my soul
Were graciously revealed.

But while I wondered and adored
His Majesty divine,
I did not tremble at His power:
I felt that God was mine;

I knew that my Redeemer lived;
I did not fear to die;
Full sure that I should rise again
To immortality.

I longed to view that bliss divine,
Which eye hath never seen;
Like Moses, I would see His face
Without the veil between.

Anne Bronte

Hosting by Yahoo!