H O M E

Poems (1850)
by the

Brontė Sisters

from the 1846 edition:


 by Anne Brontė
A Reminiscence
The Arbour
Home
Vanitas Vanitatum, Omnia Vanitas
The Penitent
Music on Christmas Morning
Stanzas
If This Be All
Memory
To Cowper
The Doubter's Prrayer
A Word to the "Elect"
Past Days
The Consolation
Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day
Views of Life
Appeal
The Student's Serenade
The Captive Dove
Self-Congratulation
Fluctuations


 by Emily Brontė
Faith and Despondency
Stars
The Philosopher
Remembrance
A Death Scene
Song
Anticipation
The Prisoner
Hope
A Day Dream
Imagination
How Clear She Shines
Sympathy
Plead for Me
Self-Interrogation
Death
Stanzas to ----
Honour's Martyr
Stanzas
My Comforter
The Old Stoic


 by Charlotte Brontė
Pilate's Wife's Dream
Mementos
The Wife's Will
The Wood
Frances
Gilbert
Life
The Letter
Regret
Presentiment
The Teacher's Monologue
Passion
Preference
Eveining Solace
Stanzas
Parting
Apostasy
Winter Stores
The Missionary


from the 1850 edition:


 from the "literary remains" of Emily Brontė
A Little While, A Little While
The Bluebell
Loud Without the Wind was Roaring
Shall Earth No More Inspire Thee
The Night Wind
It Wakes To-Night
Love and Friendship
The Elder's Rebuke
The Wanderer from the Fold
Warning and Reply
Last Words
The Lady to Her Guitar
The Two Children
The Visionary
Encouragement
Stanzas
No Coward Soul is Mine
 from the "literary remains" of Anne Brontė
Despondency
Stanzas
A Prayer
In Memory of a Happy Day in February
Confidence
Lines Written from Home
The Narrow Way
Domestic Peace
The Three Guides
Hoped, That With The Brave And Strong

Poets' Corner Scripting
© 2009 S.L. Spanoudis and
theotherpages.org.
All rights reserved worldwide.


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Poems, by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell

(Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontė)

(Originally published in 1846, this text is trom the 1850 edition,
with comments and additional selctions added by Charlotte)

The Bronte Sisters
Portrait of the sisters (Anne, Emily and Charlotte) by their brother, Branwell. He originally
included himself in the center of the portrait, but painted himself
out. A shadow of his outline remains. [ca. 1834]

 

. Gilbert

    I. THE GARDEN.

    ABOVE the city hung the moon,
    Right o'er a plot of ground
    Where flowers and orchard-trees were fenced
    With lofty walls around:
    'Twas Gilbert's garden--there to-night
    Awhile he walked alone;
    And, tired with sedentary toil,
    Mused where the moonlight shone.

    This garden, in a city-heart,
    Lay still as houseless wild,
    Though many-windowed mansion fronts
    Were round it; closely piled;
    But thick their walls, and those within
    Lived lives by noise unstirred;
    Like wafting of an angel's wing,
    Time's flight by them was heard.

    Some soft piano-notes alone
    Were sweet as faintly given,
    Where ladies, doubtless, cheered the hearth
    With song that winter-even.
    The city's many-mingled sounds
    Rose like the hum of ocean;
    They rather lulled the heart than roused
    Its pulse to faster motion.

    Gilbert has paced the single walk
    An hour, yet is not weary;
    And, though it be a winter night
    He feels nor cold nor dreary.
    The prime of life is in his veins,
    And sends his blood fast flowing,
    And Fancy's fervour warms the thoughts
    Now in his bosom glowing.

    Those thoughts recur to early love,
    Or what he love would name,
    Though haply Gilbert's secret deeds
    Might other title claim.
    Such theme not oft his mind absorbs,
    He to the world clings fast,
    And too much for the present lives,
    To linger o'er the past.

    But now the evening's deep repose
    Has glided to his soul;
    That moonlight falls on Memory,
    And shows her fading scroll.
    One name appears in every line
    The gentle rays shine o'er,
    And still he smiles and still repeats
    That one name--Elinor.

    There is no sorrow in his smile,
    No kindness in his tone;
    The triumph of a selfish heart
    Speaks coldly there alone;
    He says: "She loved me more than life;
    And truly it was sweet
    To see so fair a woman kneel,
    In bondage, at my feet.

    "There was a sort of quiet bliss
    To be so deeply loved,
    To gaze on trembling eagerness
    And sit myself unmoved.
    And when it pleased my pride to grant
    At last some rare caress,
    To feel the fever of that hand
    My fingers deigned to press.

    "'Twas sweet to see her strive to hide
    What every glance revealed;
    Endowed, the while, with despot-might
    Her destiny to wield.
    I knew myself no perfect man,
    Nor, as she deemed, divine;
    I knew that I was glorious--but
    By her reflected shine;

    "Her youth, her native energy,
    Her powers new-born and fresh,
    'Twas these with Godhead sanctified
    My sensual frame of flesh.
    Yet, like a god did I descend
    At last, to meet her love;
    And, like a god, I then withdrew
    To my own heaven above.

    "And never more could she invoke
    My presence to her sphere;
    No prayer, no plaint, no cry of hers
    Could win my awful ear.
    I knew her blinded constancy
    Would ne'er my deeds betray,
    And, calm in conscience, whole in heart.
    I went my tranquil way.

    "Yet, sometimes, I still feel a wish,
    The fond and flattering pain
    Of passion's anguish to create
    In her young breast again.
    Bright was the lustre of her eyes,
    When they caught fire from mine;
    If I had power--this very hour,
    Again I'd light their shine.

    "But where she is, or how she lives,
    I have no clue to know;
    I've heard she long my absence pined,
    And left her home in woe.
    But busied, then, in gathering gold,
    As I am busied now,
    I could not turn from such pursuit,
    To weep a broken vow.

    "Nor could I give to fatal risk
    The fame I ever prized;
    Even now, I fear, that precious fame
    Is too much compromised."
    An inward trouble dims his eye,
    Some riddle he would solve;
    Some method to unloose a knot,
    His anxious thoughts revolve.

    He, pensive, leans against a tree,
    A leafy evergreen,
    The boughs, the moonlight, intercept,
    And hide him like a screen
    He starts--the tree shakes with his tremor,
    Yet nothing near him pass'd;
    He hurries up the garden alley,
    In strangely sudden haste.

    With shaking hand, he lifts the latchet,
    Steps o'er the threshold stone;
    The heavy door slips from his fingers--
    It shuts, and he is gone.
    What touched, transfixed, appalled, his soul?--
    A nervous thought, no more;
    'Twill sink like stone in placid pool,
    And calm close smoothly o'er.

    II. THE PARLOUR.

    Warm is the parlour atmosphere,
    Serene the lamp's soft light;
    The vivid embers, red and clear,
    Proclaim a frosty night.
    Books, varied, on the table lie,
    Three children o'er them bend,
    And all, with curious, eager eye,
    The turning leaf attend.

    Picture and tale alternately
    Their simple hearts delight,
    And interest deep, and tempered glee,
    Illume their aspects bright.
    The parents, from their fireside place,
    Behold that pleasant scene,
    And joy is on the mother's face,
    Pride in the father's mien.

    As Gilbert sees his blooming wife,
    Beholds his children fair,
    No thought has he of transient strife,
    Or past, though piercing fear.
    The voice of happy infancy
    Lisps sweetly in his ear,
    His wife, with pleased and peaceful eye,
    Sits, kindly smiling, near.

    The fire glows on her silken dress,
    And shows its ample grace,
    And warmly tints each hazel tress,
    Curled soft around her face.
    The beauty that in youth he wooed,
    Is beauty still, unfaded;
    The brow of ever placid mood
    No churlish grief has shaded.

    Prosperity, in Gilbert's home,
    Abides the guest of years;
    There Want or Discord never come,
    And seldom Toil or Tears.
    The carpets bear the peaceful print
    Of comfort's velvet tread,
    And golden gleams, from plenty sent,
    In every nook are shed.

    The very silken spaniel seems
    Of quiet ease to tell,
    As near its mistress' feet it dreams,
    Sunk in a cushion's swell
    And smiles seem native to the eyes
    Of those sweet children, three;
    They have but looked on tranquil skies,
    And know not misery.

    Alas! that Misery should come
    In such an hour as this;
    Why could she not so calm a home
    A little longer miss?
    But she is now within the door,
    Her steps advancing glide;
    Her sullen shade has crossed the floor,
    She stands at Gilbert's side.

    She lays her hand upon his heart,
    It bounds with agony;
    His fireside chair shakes with the start
    That shook the garden tree.
    His wife towards the children looks,
    She does not mark his mien;
    The children, bending o'er their books,
    His terror have not seen.

    In his own home, by his own hearth,
    He sits in solitude,
    And circled round with light and mirth,
    Cold horror chills his blood.
    His mind would hold with desperate clutch
    The scene that round him lies;
    No--changed, as by some wizard's touch,
    The present prospect flies.

    A tumult vague--a viewless strife
    His futile struggles crush;
    'Twixt him and his an unknown life
    And unknown feelings rush.
    He sees--but scarce can language paint
    The tissue fancy weaves;
    For words oft give but echo faint
    Of thoughts the mind conceives.

    Noise, tumult strange, and darkness dim,
    Efface both light and quiet;
    No shape is in those shadows grim,
    No voice in that wild riot.
    Sustain'd and strong, a wondrous blast
    Above and round him blows;
    A greenish gloom, dense overcast,
    Each moment denser grows.

    He nothing knows--nor clearly sees,
    Resistance checks his breath,
    The high, impetuous, ceaseless breeze
    Blows on him cold as death.
    And still the undulating gloom
    Mocks sight with formless motion:
    Was such sensation Jonah's doom,
    Gulphed in the depths of ocean?

    Streaking the air, the nameless vision,
    Fast-driven, deep-sounding, flows;
    Oh! whence its source, and what its mission?
    How will its terrors close?
    Long-sweeping, rushing, vast and void,
    The universe it swallows;
    And still the dark, devouring tide
    A typhoon tempest follows.

    More slow it rolls; its furious race
    Sinks to its solemn gliding;
    The stunning roar, the wind's wild chase,
    To stillness are subsiding.
    And, slowly borne along, a form
    The shapeless chaos varies;
    Poised in the eddy to the storm,
    Before the eye it tarries.

    A woman drowned--sunk in the deep,
    On a long wave reclining;
    The circling waters' crystal sweep,
    Like glass, her shape enshrining.
    Her pale dead face, to Gilbert turned,
    Seems as in sleep reposing;
    A feeble light, now first discerned,
    The features well disclosing.

    No effort from the haunted air
    The ghastly scene could banish,
    That hovering wave, arrested there,
    Rolled--throbbed--but did not vanish.
    If Gilbert upward turned his gaze,
    He saw the ocean-shadow;
    If he looked down, the endless seas
    Lay green as summer meadow.

    And straight before, the pale corpse lay,
    Upborne by air or billow,
    So near, he could have touched the spray
    That churned around its pillow.
    The hollow anguish of the face
    Had moved a fiend to sorrow;
    Not death's fixed calm could rase the trace
    Of suffering's deep-worn furrow.

    All moved; a strong returning blast,
    The mass of waters raising,
    Bore wave and passive carcase past,
    While Gilbert yet was gazing.
    Deep in her isle-conceiving womb,
    It seemed the ocean thundered,
    And soon, by realms of rushing gloom,
    Were seer and phantom sundered.

    Then swept some timbers from a wreck.
    On following surges riding;
    Then sea-weed, in the turbid rack
    Uptorn, went slowly gliding.
    The horrid shade, by slow degrees,
    A beam of light defeated,
    And then the roar of raving seas,
    Fast, far, and faint, retreated.

    And all was gone--gone like a mist,
    Corse, billows, tempest, wreck;
    Three children close to Gilbert prest
    And clung around his neck.
    Good night! good night! the prattlers said,
    And kissed their father's cheek;
    'Twas now the hour their quiet bed
    And placid rest to seek.

    The mother with her offspring goes
    To hear their evening prayer;
    She nought of Gilbert's vision knows,
    And nought of his despair.
    Yet, pitying God, abridge the time
    Of anguish, now his fate!
    Though, haply, great has been his crime:
    Thy mercy, too, is great.

    Gilbert, at length, uplifts his head,
    Bent for some moments low,
    And there is neither grief nor dread
    Upon his subtle brow.
    For well can he his feelings task,
    And well his looks command;
    His features well his heart can mask,
    With smiles and smoothness bland.

    Gilbert has reasoned with his mind--
    He says 'twas all a dream;
    He strives his inward sight to blind
    Against truth's inward beam.
    He pitied not that shadowy thing,
    When it was flesh and blood;
    Nor now can pity's balmy spring
    Refresh his arid mood.

    "And if that dream has spoken truth,"
    Thus musingly he says;
    "If Elinor be dead, in sooth,
    Such chance the shock repays:
    A net was woven round my feet,
    I scarce could further go;
    Ere shame had forced a fast retreat,
    Dishonour brought me low.

    "Conceal her, then, deep, silent sea,
    Give her a secret grave!
    She sleeps in peace, and I am free,
    No longer terror's slave:
    And homage still, from all the world,
    Shall greet my spotless name,
    Since surges break and waves are curled
    Above its threatened shame."

    III. THE WELCOME HOME.

    Above the city hangs the moon,
    Some clouds are boding rain;
    Gilbert, erewhile on journey gone,
    To-night comes home again.
    Ten years have passed above his head,
    Each year has brought him gain;
    His prosperous life has smoothly sped,
    Without or tear or stain.

    'Tis somewhat late--the city clocks
    Twelve deep vibrations toll,
    As Gilbert at the portal knocks,
    Which is his journey's goal.
    The street is still and desolate,
    The moon hid by a cloud;
    Gilbert, impatient, will not wait,--
    His second knock peals loud.

    The clocks are hushed--there's not a light
    In any window nigh,
    And not a single planet bright
    Looks from the clouded sky;
    The air is raw, the rain descends,
    A bitter north-wind blows;
    His cloak the traveller scarce defends--
    Will not the door unclose?

    He knocks the third time, and the last
    His summons now they hear,
    Within, a footstep, hurrying fast,
    Is heard approaching near.
    The bolt is drawn, the clanking chain
    Falls to the floor of stone;
    And Gilbert to his heart will strain
    His wife and children soon.

    The hand that lifts the latchet, holds
    A candle to his sight,
    And Gilbert, on the step, beholds
    A woman, clad in white.
    Lo! water from her dripping dress
    Runs on the streaming floor;
    From every dark and clinging tress
    The drops incessant pour.

    There's none but her to welcome him;
    She holds the candle high,
    And, motionless in form and limb,
    Stands cold and silent nigh;
    There's sand and sea-weed on her robe,
    Her hollow eyes are blind;
    No pulse in such a frame can throb,
    No life is there defined.

    Gilbert turned ashy-white, but still
    His lips vouchsafed no cry;
    He spurred his strength and master-will
    To pass the figure by,--
    But, moving slow, it faced him straight,
    It would not flinch nor quail:
    Then first did Gilbert's strength abate,
    His stony firmness quail.

    He sank upon his knees and prayed
    The shape stood rigid there;
    He called aloud for human aid,
    No human aid was near.
    An accent strange did thus repeat
    Heaven's stern but just decree:
    "The measure thou to her didst mete,
    To thee shall measured be!"

    Gilbert sprang from his bended knees,
    By the pale spectre pushed,
    And, wild as one whom demons seize,
    Up the hall-staircase rushed;
    Entered his chamber--near the bed
    Sheathed steel and fire-arms hung--
    Impelled by maniac purpose dread
    He chose those stores among.

    Across his throat a keen-edged knife
    With vigorous hand he drew;
    The wound was wide--his outraged life
    Rushed rash and redly through.
    And thus died, by a shameful death,
    A wise and worldly man,
    Who never drew but selfish breath
    Since first his life began.

    Charlotte Bronte


 

. Life

    LIFE, believe, is not a dream
    So dark as sages say;
    Oft a little morning rain
    Foretells a pleasant day.
    Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
    But these are transient all;
    If the shower will make the roses bloom,
    O why lament its fall?
    Rapidly, merrily,
    Life's sunny hours flit by,
    Gratefully, cheerily
    Enjoy them as they fly!
    What though Death at times steps in,
    And calls our Best away?
    What though sorrow seems to win,
    O'er hope, a heavy sway?
    Yet Hope again elastic springs,
    Unconquered, though she fell;
    Still buoyant are her golden wings,
    Still strong to bear us well.
    Manfully, fearlessly,
    The day of trial bear,
    For gloriously, victoriously,
    Can courage quell despair!

    Charlotte Bronte


 

. The Letter

    WHAT is she writing? Watch her now,
    How fast her fingers move!
    How eagerly her youthful brow
    Is bent in thought above!
    Her long curls, drooping, shade the light,
    She puts them quick aside,
    Nor knows that band of crystals bright,
    Her hasty touch untied.
    It slips adown her silken dress,
    Falls glittering at her feet;
    Unmarked it falls, for she no less
    Pursues her labour sweet.

    The very loveliest hour that shines,
    Is in that deep blue sky;
    The golden sun of June declines,
    It has not caught her eye.
    The cheerful lawn, and unclosed gate,
    The white road, far away,
    In vain for her light footsteps wait,
    She comes not forth to-day.
    There is an open door of glass
    Close by that lady's chair,
    From thence, to slopes of messy grass,
    Descends a marble stair.

    Tall plants of bright and spicy bloom
    Around the threshold grow;
    Their leaves and blossoms shade the room
    From that sun's deepening glow.
    Why does she not a moment glance
    Between the clustering flowers,
    And mark in heaven the radiant dance
    Of evening's rosy hours?
    O look again! Still fixed her eye,
    Unsmiling, earnest, still,
    And fast her pen and fingers fly,
    Urged by her eager will.

    Her soul is in th'absorbing task;
    To whom, then, doth she write?
    Nay, watch her still more closely, ask
    Her own eyes' serious light;
    Where do they turn, as now her pen
    Hangs o'er th'unfinished line?
    Whence fell the tearful gleam that then
    Did in their dark spheres shine?
    The summer-parlour looks so dark,
    When from that sky you turn,
    And from th'expanse of that green park,
    You scarce may aught discern.

    Yet, o'er the piles of porcelain rare,
    O'er flower-stand, couch, and vase,
    Sloped, as if leaning on the air,
    One picture meets the gaze.
    'Tis there she turns; you may not see
    Distinct, what form defines
    The clouded mass of mystery
    Yon broad gold frame confines.
    But look again; inured to shade
    Your eyes now faintly trace
    A stalwart form, a massive head,
    A firm, determined face.

    Black Spanish locks, a sunburnt cheek
    A brow high, broad, and white,
    Where every furrow seems to speak
    Of mind and moral might.
    Is that her god? I cannot tell;
    Her eye a moment met
    Th'impending picture, then it fell
    Darkened and dimmed and wet.
    A moment more, her task is done,
    And sealed the letter lies;
    And now, towards the setting sun
    She turns her tearful eyes.

    Those tears flow over, wonder not,
    For by the inscription see
    In what a strange and distant spot
    Her heart of hearts must be!
    Three seas and many a league of land
    That letter must pass o'er,
    Ere read by him to whose loved hand
    'Tis sent from England's shore.
    Remote colonial wilds detain
    Her husband, loved though stern;
    She, 'mid that smiling English scene,
    Weeps for his wished return.

    Charlotte Bronte


 

. Regret

    LONG ago I wished to leave
    "The house where I was born;"
    Long ago I used to grieve,
    My home seemed so forlorn.
    In other years, its silent rooms
    Were filled with haunting fears;
    Now, their very memory comes
    O'ercharged with tender tears.

    Life and marriage I have known.
    Things once deemed so bright;
    Now, how utterly is flown
    Every ray of light!
    'Mid the unknown sea, of life
    I no blest isle have found;
    At last, through all its wild wave's strife,
    My bark is homeward bound.

    Farewell, dark and rolling deep!
    Farewell, foreign shore!
    Open, in unclouded sweep,
    Thou glorious realm before!
    Yet, though I had safely pass'd
    That weary, vexed main,
    One loved voice, through surge and blast
    Could call me back again.

    Though the soul's bright morning rose
    O'er Paradise for me,
    William! even from Heaven's repose
    I'd turn, invoked by thee!
    Storm nor surge should e'er arrest
    My soul, exalting then:
    All my heaven was once thy breast,
    Would it were mine again!

    Charlotte Bronte


 

. Presentiment

    "SISTER, you've sat there all the day,
    Come to the hearth awhile;
    The wind so wildly sweeps away,
    The clouds so darkly pile.
    That open book has lain, unread,
    For hours upon your knee;
    You've never smiled nor turned your head;
    What can you, sister, see?"

    "Come hither, Jane, look down the field;
    How dense a mist creeps on!
    The path, the hedge, are both concealed,
    Ev'n the white gate is gone
    No landscape through the fog I trace,
    No hill with pastures green;
    All featureless is Nature's face.
    All masked in clouds her mien.

    "Scarce is the rustle of a leaf
    Heard in our garden now;
    The year grows old, its days wax brief,
    The tresses leave its brow.
    The rain drives fast before the wind,
    The sky is blank and grey;
    O Jane, what sadness fills the mind
    On such a dreary day!"

    "You think too much, my sister dear;
    You sit too long alone;
    What though November days be drear?
    Full soon will they be gone.
    I've swept the hearth, and placed your chair.
    Come, Emma, sit by me;
    Our own fireside is never drear,
    Though late and wintry wane the year,
    Though rough the night may be."

    "The peaceful glow of our fireside
    Imparts no peace to me:
    My thoughts would rather wander wide
    Than rest, dear Jane, with thee.
    I'm on a distant journey bound,
    And if, about my heart,
    Too closely kindred ties were bound,
    'Twould break when forced to part.

    "'Soon will November days be o'er:'
    Well have you spoken, Jane:
    My own forebodings tell me more--
    For me, I know by presage sure,
    They'll ne'er return again.
    Ere long, nor sun nor storm to me
    Will bring or joy or gloom;
    They reach not that Eternity
    Which soon will be my home."

    Eight months are gone, the summer sun
    Sets in a glorious sky;
    A quiet field, all green and lone,
    Receives its rosy dye.
    Jane sits upon a shaded stile,
    Alone she sits there now;
    Her head rests on her hand the while,
    And thought o'ercasts her brow.

    She's thinking of one winter's day,
    A few short months ago,
    Then Emma's bier was borne away
    O'er wastes of frozen snow.
    She's thinking how that drifted snow
    Dissolved in spring's first gleam,
    And how her sister's memory now
    Fades, even as fades a dream.

    The snow will whiten earth again,
    But Emma comes no more;
    She left, 'mid winter's sleet and rain,
    This world for Heaven's far shore.
    On Beulah's hills she wanders now,
    On Eden's tranquil plain;
    To her shall Jane hereafter go,
    She ne'er shall come to Jane!

    Charlotte Bronte


 

. The Teacher's Monologue

    THE room is quiet, thoughts alone
    People its mute tranquillity;
    The yoke put off, the long task done,--
    I am, as it is bliss to be,
    Still and untroubled. Now, I see,
    For the first time, how soft the day
    O'er waveless water, stirless tree,
    Silent and sunny, wings its way.
    Now, as I watch that distant hill,
    So faint, so blue, so far removed,
    Sweet dreams of home my heart may fill,
    That home where I am known and loved:
    It lies beyond; yon azure brow
    Parts me from all Earth holds for me;
    And, morn and eve, my yearnings flow
    Thitherward tending, changelessly.
    My happiest hours, aye! all the time,
    I love to keep in memory,
    Lapsed among moors, ere life's first prime
    Decayed to dark anxiety.

    Sometimes, I think a narrow heart
    Makes me thus mourn those far away,
    And keeps my love so far apart
    From friends and friendships of to-day;
    Sometimes, I think 'tis but a dream
    I treasure up so jealously,
    All the sweet thoughts I live on seem
    To vanish into vacancy:
    And then, this strange, coarse world around
    Seems all that's palpable and true;
    And every sight, and every sound,
    Combines my spirit to subdue
    To aching grief, so void and lone
    Is Life and Earth--so worse than vain,
    The hopes that, in my own heart sown,
    And cherished by such sun and rain
    As Joy and transient Sorrow shed,
    Have ripened to a harvest there:
    Alas! methinks I hear it said,
    "Thy golden sheaves are empty air."

    All fades away; my very home
    I think will soon be desolate;
    I hear, at times, a warning come
    Of bitter partings at its gate;
    And, if I should return and see
    The hearth-fire quenched, the vacant chair;
    And hear it whispered mournfully,
    That farewells have been spoken there,
    What shall I do, and whither turn?
    Where look for peace? When cease to mourn?

    'Tis not the air I wished to play,
    The strain I wished to sing;
    My wilful spirit slipped away
    And struck another string.
    I neither wanted smile nor tear,
    Bright joy nor bitter woe,
    But just a song that sweet and clear,
    Though haply sad, might flow.

    A quiet song, to solace me
    When sleep refused to come;
    A strain to chase despondency,
    When sorrowful for home.
    In vain I try; I cannot sing;
    All feels so cold and dead;
    No wild distress, no gushing spring
    Of tears in anguish shed;

    But all the impatient gloom of one
    Who waits a distant day,
    When, some great task of suffering done,
    Repose shall toil repay.
    For youth departs, and pleasure flies,
    And life consumes away,
    And youth's rejoicing ardour dies
    Beneath this drear delay;

    And Patience, weary with her yoke,
    Is yielding to despair,
    And Health's elastic spring is broke
    Beneath the strain of care.
    Life will be gone ere I have lived;
    Where now is Life's first prime?
    I've worked and studied, longed and grieved,
    Through all that rosy time.

    To toil, to think, to long, to grieve,--
    Is such my future fate?
    The morn was dreary, must the eve
    Be also desolate?
    Well, such a life at least makes Death
    A welcome, wished-for friend;
    Then, aid me, Reason, Patience, Faith,
    To suffer to the end!

    Charlotte Bronte


 

. Passion

    SOME have won a wild delight,
    By daring wilder sorrow;
    Could I gain thy love to-night,
    I'd hazard death to-morrow.

    Could the battle-struggle earn
    One kind glance from thine eye,
    How this withering heart would burn,
    The heady fight to try!

    Welcome nights of broken sleep,
    And days of carnage cold,
    Could I deem that thou wouldst weep
    To hear my perils told.

    Tell me, if with wandering bands
    I roam full far away,
    Wilt thou to those distant lands
    In spirit ever stray?

    Wild, long, a trumpet sounds afar;
    Bid me--bid me go
    Where Seik and Briton meet in war,
    On Indian Sutlej's flow.

    Blood has dyed the Sutlej's waves
    With scarlet stain, I know;
    Indus' borders yawn with graves,
    Yet, command me go!

    Though rank and high the holocaust
    Of nations steams to heaven,
    Glad I'd join the death-doomed host,
    Were but the mandate given.

    Passion's strength should nerve my arm,
    Its ardour stir my life,
    Till human force to that dread charm
    Should yield and sink in wild alarm,
    Like trees to tempest-strife.

    If, hot from war, I seek thy love,
    Darest thou turn aside?
    Darest thou then my fire reprove,
    By scorn, and maddening pride?

    No--my will shall yet control
    Thy will, so high and free,
    And love shall tame that haughty soul--
    Yes--tenderest love for me.

    I'll read my triumph in thine eyes,
    Behold, and prove the change;
    Then leave, perchance, my noble prize,
    Once more in arms to range.

    I'd die when all the foam is up,
    The bright wine sparkling high;
    Nor wait till in the exhausted cup
    Life's dull dregs only lie.

    Then Love thus crowned with sweet reward,
    Hope blest with fulness large,
    I'd mount the saddle, draw the sword,
    And perish in the charge!

    Charlotte Bronte


 

. Preference

    NOT in scorn do I reprove thee,
    Not in pride thy vows I waive,
    But, believe, I could not love thee,
    Wert thou prince, and I a slave.
    These, then, are thine oaths of passion?
    This, thy tenderness for me?
    Judged, even, by thine own confession,
    Thou art steeped in perfidy.
    Having vanquished, thou wouldst leave me!
    Thus I read thee long ago;
    Therefore, dared I not deceive thee,
    Even with friendship's gentle show.
    Therefore, with impassive coldness
    Have I ever met thy gaze;
    Though, full oft, with daring boldness,
    Thou thine eyes to mine didst raise.
    Why that smile? Thou now art deeming
    This my coldness all untrue,--
    But a mask of frozen seeming,
    Hiding secret fires from view.
    Touch my hand, thou self-deceiver;
    Nay-be calm, for I am so:
    Does it burn? Does my lip quiver?
    Has mine eye a troubled glow?
    Canst thou call a moment's colour
    To my forehead--to my cheek?
    Canst thou tinge their tranquil pallor
    With one flattering, feverish streak?
    Am I marble? What! no woman
    Could so calm before thee stand?
    Nothing living, sentient, human,
    Could so coldly take thy hand?
    Yes--a sister might, a mother:
    My good-will is sisterly:
    Dream not, then, I strive to smother
    Fires that inly burn for thee.
    Rave not, rage not, wrath is fruitless,
    Fury cannot change my mind;
    I but deem the feeling rootless
    Which so whirls in passion's wind.
    Can I love? Oh, deeply--truly--
    Warmly--fondly--but not thee;
    And my love is answered duly,
    With an equal energy.
    Wouldst thou see thy rival? Hasten,
    Draw that curtain soft aside,
    Look where yon thick branches chasten
    Noon, with shades of eventide.
    In that glade, where foliage blending
    Forms a green arch overhead,
    Sits thy rival, thoughtful bending
    O'er a stand with papers spread--
    Motionless, his fingers plying
    That untired, unresting pen;
    Time and tide unnoticed flying,
    There he sits--the first of men!
    Man of conscience--man of reason;
    Stern, perchance, but ever just;
    Foe to falsehood, wrong, and treason,
    Honour's shield, and virtue's trust!
    Worker, thinker, firm defender
    Of Heaven's truth--man's liberty;
    Soul of iron--proof to slander,
    Rock where founders tyranny.
    Fame he seeks not--but full surely
    She will seek him, in his home;
    This I know, and wait securely
    For the atoning hour to come.
    To that man my faith is given,
    Therefore, soldier, cease to sue;
    While God reigns in earth and heaven,
    I to him will still be true!

    Charlotte 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


 

. Stanzas

    I
    If thou be in a lonely place,
    If one hour's calm be thine,
    As Evening bends her placid face
    O'er this sweet day's decline;
    If all the earth and all the heaven
    Now look serene to thee,
    As o'er them shuts the summer even,
    One moment--think of me!

    Pause, in the lane, returning home;
    'Tis dusk, it will be still:
    Pause near the elm, a sacred gloom
    Its breezeless boughs will fill.
    Look at that soft and golden light,
    High in the unclouded sky;
    Watch the last bird's belated flight,
    As it flits silent by.

    Hark! for a sound upon the wind,
    A step, a voice, a sigh;
    If all be still, then yield thy mind,
    Unchecked, to memory.
    If thy love were like mine, how blest
    That twilight hour would seem,
    When, back from the regretted Past,
    Returned our early dream!

    If thy love were like mine, how wild
    Thy longings, even to pain,
    For sunset soft, and moonlight mild,
    To bring that hour again!
    But oft, when in thine arms I lay,
    I've seen thy dark eyes shine,
    And deeply felt their changeful ray
    Spoke other love than mine.

    My love is almost anguish now,
    It beats so strong and true;
    'Twere rapture, could I deem that thou
    Such anguish ever knew.
    I have been but thy transient flower,
    Thou wert my god divine;
    Till checked by death's congealing power,
    This heart must throb for thine.

    And well my dying hour were blest,
    If life's expiring breath
    Should pass, as thy lips gently prest
    My forehead cold in death;
    And sound my sleep would be, and sweet,
    Beneath the churchyard tree,
    If sometimes in thy heart should beat
    One pulse, still true to me.

    Charlotte Bronte


More Poems by Charlotte Bronte





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