Charlotte Brontë.

Brontë poems; selections from the poetry of Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell Brontë; online

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Remorse even now may wake within,
And half unchain his soul from sin.



Perhaps this is the destined hour
When Hell shall lose its fatal power,
And Heaven itself shall bend above
To hail the soul redeemed by love.

Unmarked I gazed; my idle thought
Passed with the ray whose shine it caught ;
One glance revealed how little care
He felt for all the beauty there.

1 08



Silent He Sat

Oh! crime can make the heart grow old
Sooner than years of wearing woe,

Can turn the warmest bosom cold
As winter wind or polar snow.

April 28, 1839.



109



Poems by Emily Bro7iie



34

To a Bluebell



SACRED watcher, wave thy bells!
Fair hill-flower and woodland child,
Dear to me in deep green dells,
Dearest on the mountains wild.

Bluebell, even as all divine
I have seen my darling shine;
Bluebell, even as fair and frail
I have seen my darling fail.
Lift thy head and speak to me,
Soothing thoughts are breathed by thee.
Thus they whisper, "Summer's sun
Lights me till my life is done;
Would I rather choose to die
Under winter's stormy sky?

"Glad I bloom, and calm I fade,
Dews of heaven are round me stayed;'
Mourner, mourner, dry thy tears,
Sorrow comes with lengthened years."

lfa>' 7, 1839.

' "Weeping twilights dew my head," is another reading.



1 10



/ Am the Only Being



35

1AM the only being ^ whose doom
No tongue would ask, no eye would mourn ;
I've never caused a thought of gloom,
A smile of joy, since I was born.

In secret pleasure, secret tears,

Thi^ changeful life has slipped away,

As friendless after eighteen 3^ears,
As lone as on my natal day.

There have been times, I cannot hide.

There have been times when this was drear.

When my sad soul forgot its pride
And longed for one to love me here.

But those were in the early glow

Of feelings long subdued by care,
And the}^ have died so long ago,

I hardly now believe they were.

First melted off the hope of youth.
Then fancy's rainbow fast withdrew;

And then experience told me truth
In mortal bosoms never grew.

^ Here, as elsewhere, Emily Bronte uses being as a mono-
syllable.



Ill



Poems by Einzly Bronte



'Twas grief enough to think mankind
All hollow, servile, insincere;

But worse to turn to my own mind.
And find the same corruption there.

May 17, 1839.



112



Claudia



36

Claudia

I DID not sleep; 'twas noon of day;
I saw the burning sunshine fall,
The long grass bending where I lay,
The blue sky brooding over all.

I heard the mellow hum of bees.
And singing birds and sighing trees.

And far away in woody dell
The music of the Sabbath bell.

I did not dream remembrance still
Clasped round my heart its fetters chill ;
But I am sure the soul is free

To leave its clay a little while,
Or how, in exile's misery.

Could I have seen my country smile?

In English fields my limbs were laid.
With English turf beneath my head ;
My spirit wandered o'er that shore
Where nought but it may wander more.
8 113



Poems by Emily Bronte



Yet if the soul can thus return,
I need not, and I will not mourn;
And vainly did you drive me far

With leagues of ocean stretched between;
My mortal flesh you might debar.

But not the eternal fire within.

My monarch died, to rule for ever
A heart that can forget him never.
And dear to me, ay, doubly dear,

Thought shut within the silent tomb.
His name shall be for whoso bear

This long-sustained and hopeless doom.

And brighter in the hour of woe

Than in the blaze of victory's pride,

That glory-shedding star shall glow

For which we fought and bled and died

May 28, 1839.



114



The Busy Day Has Hurried By



37

THE busy day has hurried by,
And hearts greet kindred hearts once
more;
And swift the evening hours should fly,
But what turns every gleaming eye
So often to the door?

And then so quick away? — And why

Does sudden silence chill the room?
And laughter sink into a sigh,
And merry words to whispers die,
And gladness change to gloom?

Oh, we are listening for a sound

We know shall ne'er be heard again;
Sweet voices in the halls resound,
Fair forms, fond faces gather round,
But all in vain, in vain.

Their feet shall never waken more
The echoes in these galleries wide,

Nor dare the snow on mountain's brow.

Nor skim the river's frozen flow.
Nor wander down its side.

« :i: *



Poems by Emily Bronte



They, they are gone! Not for a while,

As golden suns at night decline,
And e'en in death our grief beguile.
Foretelling with a rose-red smile
How bright the morn will shine.

No ; these dark towers are lone and lorn ;

This very crowd is vacancy;
And we must watch and wait and mourn,
And half look out for their return;

And think their forms we see.

And fancy music in our ear.

Such as their lips could only pour,
And think we feel their presence near,
And start to find they are not here;
And never shall be more!

June 14, 1839.



116



Month After Month



38

MONTH after month, year after year,
My harp has poured a dreary strain ;
At length a livelier note shall cheer,
And pleasure tune its chords again.

What though the stars and fair moonlight
Are quenched in morning dull and grey?

They are but tokens of the night,
And this, my soul, is day.

June 18, 1839.



117



Poems by Emily Bronte



39



COME hither, child; who gifted thee
With power to touch that string so well?
How daredst thou wake thoughts in me,
Thoughts that I would, but cannot quell!

Nay, chide not, lady; long ago
I heard those notes in Elbe Hall,

And had I known they'd waken woe,
I'd weep their music to recall.

But thus it was one festal night.
When I was hardly six years old,

I stole away from crowds and light.
And sought a chamber dark and cold.

I had no one to love me there,
I knew no comrade and no friend,

And so I went to sorrow where

Heaven, only heaven, could me defend.

Loud blew the wind. 'Twas sad to stay
From all that splendour round away.
I imaged in the lonely room
A thousand forms, a fearful gloom;

Ii8



Come Hither, Child



And with my wet eyes raised on high,
I prayed to God that I might die.
Suddenly in the silence drear
A sound of music reached my ear:

And then a voice — I hear it yet —
So full of soul, so deeply sweet;
I thought that Gabriel's self had come
To take me to my father's home.

Three times it rose, that solemn strain.
Then died away, nor came again;
And still the words and still the tone
Dwell in their might when all alone.

July 19, 1839.



119



Poems by Emily Bronte



40



MILD the mist upon the hill,
Telling not of storms to-morrow;
No, the day has wept its fill,
Spent its store of silent sorrow.

Oh, Fm gone back to the days of youth,

I am a child once more,
And 'neath my father's sheltering roof,

And near the old hall door,

I watch this cloudy evening fall.

After a day of rain ;
Blue mists, sweet mists of summer pall

The horizon's mountain chain.

The damp stands in the long, green grass

As thick as morning's tears;
And dreamy scents of fragrance pass

That breathe of other years.

July 27, 1839.



120



How Long Will You Remain ?



H



41

OW long will you remain? The midnight
hour

Has tolled its last stroke from the minster tower.
Come^ come ; the fire is dead, the lamp burns low ;
Your eyelids droop, a weight is on your brow;
Your cold hands hardly hold the weary pen:
Come; morn will give recovered strength again."

"No; let me linger; leave me, let me be

A little longer in this reverie:

I'm happy now; and would you tear away

My blissful thought that never comes with day ?

A vision dear, though false, for well my mind

Knows what a bitter waking waits behind."

''Can there be pleasure in this shadowy room.

With windows yawning on intenser gloom,

And such a dreary wind so bleakly sweeping

Round walls where only you are vigil keeping?

Besides, your face has not a sign of joy.

And more than tearful sorrow fills your eye.

Look on those woods, look on that mountain

lorn,

And think how changed they'll be to-morrow

morn:

121



Poems by Emily Bronte



The doors of heaven expanding bright and blue;
The leaves, the green grass, sprinkled with the

dew;
And white mists rising on the river's breast,
And wild birds bursting from their songless nest,
And your own children's merry voices chasing
The phantom ghost that pleasure has been

raising."

"Ay, speak of these! but can you tell me why
Day breathes such beauty over earth and sky,
And waking sounds revive, restored again
To hearts that all night long have throbbed with

pain?
Is it not that the sunshine and the wind
Lure from itself the woeful woe-worn mind,
And all the joyous music breathing by.
And all the splendours of that cloudless sky,
Re-give him shadowy gleams of infancy
And draw his tired gaze from futurity?"

August 12, 1839.



122



The Starry Night



42

THE starry night shall tidings bring ;
Go out upon the breezy moor,
Watch- for a bird with sable wing,
And beak and talons dropping gore.

Look not around, look not beneath,

But mutely trace its airy way,
Mark where it lights upon the heath;

Then, wanderer, kneel thee down, and pray.

What fortune may await thee there,

I will not, and I dare not tell;
But Heaven is moved by fervent prayer,

And God is mercy — fare thee well!

* * *

It is not pride, it is not shame,

That makes her leave the gorgeous hall;

And though neglect her heart might tame,
She mourns not for her sudden fall.

'Tis true she stands among the crowd.
An unmarked and an unloved child.

While each young comrade, blithe and proud,
Glides through the maze of pleasure wild.

123



Poems by Emily Bronte



And all do homage to their will,

And all seem glad their voice to hear;

She heeds not that, but hardly still
Her eye can hold the quivering tear.

What made her weep, what made her glide
Out to the park this dreary day.

And cast her jewelled chains aside.
And seek a rough and lonely way;

And down beneath a cedar's shade,

On the wet grass regardless lie,
With nothing but its gloom}^ head

Between her and the showering sky?

I saw her stand in the gallery long.
Watching those little children there,

As they were playing^ the pillars 'mong.
And bounding down the marble stair.

August 13, 1839.

''A monosyllable. Emil}'^ Bronte so pronounced, it is
plain, words like being, doing, going.



124



There Was a Tmie



43

THERE was a time when my cheek burned
To give such scornful words the lie,
Ungoverned nature madly spurned

The law that bade it not defy.
Oh, in the days of ardent youth
I would have given my life for truth.

For truth, for right, for liberty,

I would have gladly, freely died;
And now I calmly bear, and see

The vain man smile, the fool deride.
Though not because my heart is tame,
Though not for fear, though not for shame 1

My soul still chokes at every tone

Of selfish and self-clouded error;
My breast still braves the world alone,

Steeled as it ever was to terror.
Only I know, howe'er I frown,
The same world will go rolling on.

October, 1839.



125



Poems by Emily Bronte



44

S07lg

O BETWEEN distress and pleasure
Fond affection cannot be!
Wretched hearts in vain would treasure
Friendship's joys when others flee.

Well I know thine eye would never
Smile, when mine grieved, willingly;

Yet I know thine eye for ever
Could not weep in sympathy.

Let us part; the time is over

When I thought and felt like thee;

I will be an ocean rover,
I will sail the desert sea.

Isles there are beyond its billow,
Lands where woe may wander free;

And, beloved, thy midnight pillow
Will be soft unwatched by me.

Not on each returning morrow.
When thy heart bounds ardently,

Needst thou then dissemble sorrow,
Marking my despondency.

126



Song

Day by day some dreary token
Will forsake thy meinor}^

Till at last, all old links broken,
I shall be a dream to thee.



October 15, 1839.



127



Poems by Emily Bronte



45



THAT wind, I used to hear it swelling
With joy divinely deep;
You might have seen my hot tears welling,
But rapture made me weep.

I used to love on winter nights
To he, and dream alone
Of all the rare and real delights
My lonely years had known.



And oh ! above the best of those

That coming time should bear,

Like heaven's own glorious stars they rose.

Still beaming bright and fair.

November 28, 1839.



128



Fve Been Wandering



46

I'VE been wandering in the greenwoods,
And 'mid flowery, smiling plains;
I've been listening to the dark floods,
To the thrush's thrilling strains.

I have gathered the pale primrose.
And the purple violet sweet;

I've been where the asphodel grows,
And where lives the red deer fleet.

I've been to the distant mountain,

To the silver singing rill,
By the crystal murm'ring fountain.

And the shady, verdant hill.

I've been where the poplar is springing
From the fair enamelled ground,

While the nightingale is singing j
With a solemn, plaintive sound.

December 14, 1839.



129



Poems by Emily Bronte



47

HEAVEN'S glory shone where he was laid
In life's decline!
I turned me from that young saint's bed
To gaze on thine.

It was a summer day that saw

His spirit's flight;
Thine parted in a time of awe,

A winter's night.



Upon her soothing breast

She lulled her little child,
A winter sunset in the west

A heav'nly glory smiled.
I gazed within thine earnest eyes

And read the sorrow brooding there;
I heard thy young breast torn with sighs,

And envied such despair.



Go to the grave in youth's bare woe!
That dream was written long ago.

December 19, 1839.



130



Never



48

Never

NOT many years, but long enough to see
No ten can deal such deadly misery
As the dear friend untimely called away;
And still the more beloved, the greater still
Must be the aching void, the withering chill
Of each dark night and dim beclouded day.

December 23 [1839].



131



Poems by Emily Bronte



49



THY sun is near meridian height,
And my sun sinks in endless night;
But if that night bring only sleep,
Then I shall rest, while thou wilt weep.

And say not that my early tomb
Will give me to a darker doom;
Shall these long agonizing years
Be punished by eternal tears?

No! that I feel can never be;
A God of hate could hardly bear
To watch through all eternity,
His own creation's dread despair!



The pangs that wring my mortal breast,
Must claim from Justice lasting rest;
Enough, that this departing breath
Will pass in anguish worse than death.



132



Thy Sim Is Near Meridian



Then come again; thou wilt not shrink-
I know thy soul is free from fear —

The last full cup of triumph drink,
Before the blank of death be there.



January 6, 1840.



133



Poems by Emily Bronte



50



HE smiles and sinj^s, though every air
Betrays the faith of yesterday;
His soul is glad to cast for her

Virtue and faith and Heaven away.

Well, thou hast paid me back my love!
But, if there be a God above,
Whose arm is strong, Whose word is true,
This hell shall wring thy spirit too!

January 6, 1840.



134



It Is Too Late



51



IT is too late to call thee now,
I will not nurse that dream again;
For every joy that lit my brow

Would bring its after-storm of pain.

Besides, the mist is half withdrawn,
The barren mountain-side lies bare,

And sunshine and awaking morn
Paint no more golden visions there.

Yet ever in my grateful breast

Thy darling shade shall cherished be;

For God alone doth know how blessed
My early years have been in thee!

April, 1840.



135



Poems by Emily Bronte



52



"HP IS moonlight, summer moonlight,

1 All soft, and still, and fair;
The silent time of midnight
Shines sweetly everywhere.

But most where trees are sending
Their breezy boughs on high,

Or stooping low are lending
A shelter from the sky.

And there in those wild bowers

A lovely form is laid.
Green grass and dew-steeped flowers

Wave gently round her head.

May 13, 1840.



136



If Grief for Grief Can Touch Thee



53

IF grief for grief can touch thee,
If answering woe for woe,
If any truth can melt thee.
Come to me now!

I cannot be more lonely,

More drear I cannot be!
My worn heart throbs so wildly
'Twill break for thee.

And when the world despises.

When heaven repels my prayer.
Will not mine angel comfort?
Mine idol hear?

Yes, by the tears I've poured thee,

By all my hours of pain,
O I shall surely win thee,
Beloved, again.
May 1 8, 1840.



137



Poems by Emily Bronte



54

COMPANIONS all day long we've stood,
The wild winds restless blowing, —
All day we've watched the darkened flood
Around our vessel flowing.

Sunshine has never smiled since morn,
And clouds have gathered drear,

And heavier hearts would feel forlorn,
And weaker minds would fear.

But look in each young shipmate's eyes

Lit \^y the evening flame,
And see how little stormy skies

Our joyous blood can tame.

No face the same expression wears.

No lip the same soft smile;
Yet kindness warms and courage cheers,

Nerves every breast the while.

It is the hour of dreaming now,

The red fire brightly gleams.
And sweetest in such fires' glow

The hour of dreaming seems.

138



Companions All Day Long



I may not trace my thoughts of all,

But some I read as well
As I can hear the ocean's fall

And sullen surging swell.

The swifter soul is gone before,

It treads a forest wide,
Where bowers are bending to the shore,

And gazing on the fide.

in if. if.

September 17, 1840.

[Note. — The six concluding verses are practically unde-
cipherable in the MS.]



139



Poems by Emily Bronte



55
Retirement

OLET me be alone awhile!
No human form is nigh;
And I may sing and muse aloud,
No mortal ear is by.

Away, ye dreams of earthly bliss,

Ye earthly cares begone!
Depart, ye restless, wandering thoughts,

And let me be alone!

One hour, my spirit, stretch thy wings

And quit this joyless sod;
Bask in the sunshine of the sky.

And be alone with God!

Sunday, December 13, 1840.



140



The Caged Bird



56
The Caged Bird

AND like myself lone, wholly lone,
It sees the day's long sunshine glow;
And like myself it makes its moan
In unexhausted woe.

Give we the hills our equal prayer,

Earth's breezy hills and heaven's blue sea;

I ask for nothing further here
But my own heart and liberty.

• Ah! could my hand unlock its chain,
How gladly would I with it soar;
And ne'er regret, and ne'er complain
To see its shining eyes no more.

But let me think that if to-day

It pines in cold captivity,
To-morrow both shall soar away,

Eternally, entirely free.

Methinks this heart should rest awhile,
So stilly round the evening falls ;

'The veiled sun shows no parting smile.
Nor mirth, nor music wakes my halls.

141



Poems by Emily Bronte



I have sat lonel}^ all the day,

Watching the drizzling mist descend,

And first conceal the hills in grey,
And then along the valleys wend.

And I have sat and watched the trees.

And the sad flowers, — how drear they blow!

Those flowers were formed to feel the breeze.
Wave their light heads in summer's glow.

Yet their lives passed in gloomy woe.
And hopeless comes its dark decline.

And I lament, because I know

That cold departure pictures mine.

February 27, 1841.



142



/ See Around Me



57



I SEE around me piteous tombstones grey
Stretching their shadows far away.
Beneath the turf my footsteps tread
Lie low and lone the silent dead,
Beneath the turf, beneath the mould,
For ever dark, for ever cold;
And my eyes cannot hold the tears
That memory hoards for vanished years.
For time and death and mortal pain
Give wounds that will not heal again.
Let me remember half the woe
I've seen and heard and felt below.
And heaven itself, so pure and blest,
Could never give my spirit rest.
Sweet land of light ! Thy children fair
Know nought akin to our despair;
Nor have they felt, nor can they tell
What tenants haunt each mortal cell, •
What gloomy guests we hold within,
Torments and madness, fear and sin!
Well, may they live in ecstasy
Their long eternity of joy!
At least we would not bring them down
With us to weep, with us to groan.

143



Poems by Emily Bronfe



No! Earth would wish no other sphere

To taste her cup of suffering drear;

She turns from heaven a tearless eye,

And only mourns that we must die!

Ah mother, what shall comfort thee

In all this boundless misery?

To cheer our eager eyes awhile

We see thee smile, how fondly smile!

But who reads not through the tender glow

Thy deep, unutterable woe?

Indeed no darling land above

Can cheat thee of thy children's love.

We all in life's departing shine.

Our last dear longings blend with thine,

And struggle still and strive to trace

With clouded gaze thy darling face.

We would not leave our native home

For any world beyond the tomb.

No, mother, on thy kindly breast

Let us be laid in lasting rest.

Or waken but to share with thee

A mutual immortality.

July^ 1 84 1.



144



Geraldine

58

Geraldine

» ^ I ^ WAS night ; her comrades gathered all

1 Within their city's rocky wall ;
When flowers were closed, and day was o'er,
Their joyous hearts awoke the more.

But lonely in her distant cave
She heard the river's restless wave
Chafing its banks with dreamy flow,
Music for mirth and wail for woe.

4c 4i 4:

Yet I could hear my lady sing;

I knew she did not mourn;
For never yet from sorrow's spring

Such witching notes were born.

if. ifi ili

The dwellers in the city slept,

My lady in her woodland bed ;
I watching o'er her slumber wept,

As one who mourns the dead.

August 17, 1841.

xo 145



Poems by Emily Bronte



59

WHAT winter floods, what streams of spring
Have drenched the grass by night and
day,
And yet beneath that speeding ring
Unmoved and undiscovered lay

The mute remembrancer of crime,
Long lost, concealed, forgot for years,

It comes at last to cancel time.
And waken unavailing tears.

March 27, 1842.



146



O Innocence, That Cannot Live



60



* *



OIKNOCENCE, that cannot live
With heart-wrung anguish long,
Dear childhood's innocence, forgive,
For I have done thee wron^f!



"^fe



The bright rosebuds, those hawthorn shrouds

Within their perfumed bower,
Have never closed beneath a cloud,

Nor bent beneath a shower.

Had darkness once obscured their sun,

Or kind dew turned to rain,
No storm-cleared sky that ever shone

Could win such bliss again.

May 17, 1842.



147



Poems by Emily Bronte



6i

Death

DEATH ! that struck when I was most confid-
ing
In my certain faith of joy to be —
Strike again, Time's withered branch dividing
From the fresh root of Eternity !

Leaves upon Time's branch were growing
brightly,

Full of sap, and full of silver dew;
Birds beneath its shelter gathered nightly;

Daily round its flowers the wild bees flew.



Sorrow passed, and plucked the golden blossom;

Guilt stripped off the foliage in its pride;
But, within its parent's kindly bosom,

Flowed for ever Life's restoring tide.

Little mourned I for the parted gladness,
For the vacant nest and silent song —

Hope was there, and laughed me out of sadness;
Whispering, "Winter will not linger long!"

148



Death

And, behold! with tenfold increase blessing,
Spring adorned the beauty-burdened spray;

Wind and rain and fervent heat, caressing,
Lavished glory on that second May!



Cruel Death! The young leaves droop and
• languish ;

Evening's gentle air may still restore —
No ! the morning sunshine mocks my anguish —

Time, for me, must never blossom more!

Strike it down, that other boughs may flourish
Where that perished sapling used to be;

Thus, at least, its mouldering corpse will nourish
That from which it sprung — Eternity.

1843.



149



Poems by Emily Eronte



62



Grave in the Ocean
* * *

WHERE can the weary lay his head,
And lay it safe the while;
In a grave that never shuts its dead
From heaven's benignant smile?



But if to weep above her grave

Be such a priceless boon,
Go, shed thy tears in Ocean's wave

And they will reach it soon.

3|C 3^ 5fC

With thy mind's vision pierce the deep,

Look how she rests below,
And tell me why such blessed sleep

Should cause such bitter woe?

May I, 1843.



150



/ Gazed Upon the Cloudless Moon



63



I GAZED upon the cloudless moon
And loved her all the night,
Till morning came and radiant noon,
And I forgot her light.

No, not forgot eternally
Beneath its mighty glare:

But could the day seem dark to me


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