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Selected Poems (Emily Brontë)

Published onFeb 23, 2024
Selected Poems (Emily Brontë)

Selected Poems by Emily Brontë

“Ah! Why, Because the Dazzling Sun”

Ah! why, because the dazzling sun

Restored my 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 rise 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 bathe 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.

O Stars and Dreams and Gentle Night;

O 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!

“Fall, leaves, fall”

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

Lengthen night and shorten day;

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow

Blossom where the rose should grow;

I shall sing when night’s decay

Ushers in a drearier day.

“And first an hour of mournful musing”

And first an hour of mournful musing

And then a gush of bitter tears

And then a dreary calm diffusing

Its deadly mist o'er joys and cares

And then a throb and then a lightening

And then a breathing from above

And then a star in heaven brightening

The star the glorious star of love

“High Waving Heather ‘neath stormy blasts bending”

High waving heather, 'neath stormy blasts bending,
Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars;
Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending,
Earth rising to heaven and heaven descending,
Man's spirit away from its drear dongeon sending,
Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.

All down the mountain sides, wild forest lending
One mighty voice to the life-giving wind;
Rivers their banks in the jubilee rending,
Fast through the valleys a reckless course wending,
Wider and deeper their waters extending,
Leaving a desolate desert behind.

Shining and lowering and swelling and dying,
Changing for ever from midnight to noon;
Roaring like thunder, like soft music sighing,
Shadows on shadows advancing and flying,
Lightning-bright flashes the deep gloom defying,
Coming as swiftly and fading as soon.

“I Am the Only Being Whose Doom”

I am the only being whose doom

No tongue would ask, no eye would mourn;

I never caused a thought of gloom,

A smile of joy, since I was born.

In secret pleasure, secret tears,

This changeful life has slipped away,

As friendless after eighteen years,

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 since subdued by care;

And they 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.

’Twas grief enough to think mankind

All hollow, servile, insincere;

But worse to trust to my own mind

And find the same corruption there.

“I’m happiest now when most away”

I’m happiest now when most away
I can tear my soul from its mould of clay,
On a windy night when the moon is bright,
And my eye can wander through worlds of light.

When I am not, and none beside,
   Nor earth, nor sea, nor cloudless sky,
But only spirit wandering wide
   Through infinite immensity.

“Long Neglect Has Worn Away”

Long neglect has worn away

Half the sweet enchanting smile;

Time has turned the bloom to gray;

Mold and damp the face defile.

But that lock of silky hair,

Still beneath the picture twined,

Tells what once those features were,

Paints their image on the mind.

Fair the hand that traced that line,

“Dearest, ever deem me true”;

Swiftly flew the fingers fine

When the pen that motto drew. 

“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.

“The night is darkening round me”

The night is darkening round me,

The wild winds coldly blow;

But a tyrant spell has bound me,

And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending

Their bare boughs weighed with snow;

The storm is fast descending,

And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,

Wastes beyond wastes below;

But nothing drear can move me;

I will not, cannot go.

“No Coward Soul Is Mine”

No coward soul is mine

No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere

I see Heaven's glories shine

And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear

O God within my breast

Almighty ever-present Deity

Life, that in me hast rest,

As I Undying Life, have power in Thee

Vain are the thousand creeds

That move men's hearts, unutterably vain,

Worthless as withered weeds

Or idlest froth amid the boundless main

To waken doubt in one

Holding so fast by thy infinity,

So surely anchored on

The steadfast rock of Immortality.

With wide-embracing love

Thy spirit animates eternal years

Pervades and broods above,

Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though earth and moon were gone

And suns and universes ceased to be

And Thou wert left alone

Every Existence would exist in thee

There is not room for Death

Nor atom that his might could render void

Since thou art Being and Breath

And what thou art may never be destroyed.

“Often rebuked, yet always back returning”

Often rebuked, yet always back returning

    To those first feelings that were born with me,

And leaving busy chase of wealth and learning

    For idle dreams of things which cannot be:

To-day, I will seek not the shadowy region;

    Its unsustaining vastness waxes drear;

And visions rising, legion after legion,

    Bring the unreal world too strangely near.

I’ll walk, but not in old heroic traces,

    And not in paths of high morality,

And not among the half-distinguished faces,

    The clouded forms of long-past history.

I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading:

    It vexes me to choose another guide:

Where the gray flocks in ferny glens are feeding;

    Where the wild wind blows on the mountain side.

What have those lonely mountains worth revealing?

    More glory and more grief than I can tell:

The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling

    Can centre both the worlds of Heaven and Hell.

“Plead for Me”

O thy bright eyes must answer now,

When Reason, with a scornful brow,

Is mocking at my overthrow;

O thy sweet tongue must plead for me

And tell why I have chosen thee!

Stern Reason is to judgment come

Arrayed in all her forms of gloom:

Wilt thou my advocate be dumb?

No, radiant angel, speak and say

Why I did cast the world away;

Why I have persevered to shun

The common paths that others run;

And on a strange road journeyed on

Heedless alike of Wealth and Power—

Of Glory's wreath and Pleasure's flower.

These once indeed seemed Beings divine,

And they perchance heard vows of mine

And saw my offerings on their shrine—

But, careless gifts are seldom prized,

And mine were worthily despised;

So with a ready heart I swore

To seek their altar-stone no more,

And gave my spirit to adore

Thee, ever present, phantom thing—

My slave, my comrade, and my King!

A slave because I rule thee still;

Incline thee to my changeful will

And make thy influence good or ill—

A comrade, for by day and night

Thou art my intimate delight—

My Darling Pain that wounds and sears

And wrings a blessing out from tears

By deadening me to real cares;

And yet, a king—though prudence well

Have taught thy subject to rebel.

And am I wrong to worship where

Faith cannot doubt nor Hope despair,

Since my own soul can grant my prayer?

Speak, God of Visions, plead for me

And tell why I have chosen thee!

“The Prisoner: A Fragment”

In the dungeon-crypts idly did I stray,
Reckless of the lives wasting there away;
“Draw the ponderous bars! open, Warder stern!”
He dared not say me nay—the hinges harshly turn.

“Our guests are darkly lodged,” I whisper’d, gazing through
The vault, whose grated eye showed heaven more gray than blue;
(This was when glad Spring laughed in awaking pride;)
“Ay, darkly lodged enough!” returned my sullen guide.

Then, God forgive my youth; forgive my careless tongue;
I scoffed, as the chill chains on the damp flagstones rung:
“Confined in triple walls, art thou so much to fear,
That we must bind thee down and clench thy fetters here?”

The captive raised her face; it was as soft and mild
As sculptured marble saint, or slumbering unwean’d child;
It was so soft and mild, it was so sweet and fair,
Pain could not trace a line, nor grief a shadow there!

The captive raised her hand and pressed it to her brow;
“I have been struck,” she said, “and I am suffering now;
Yet these are little worth, your bolts and irons strong;
And, were they forged in steel, they could not hold me long.”

Hoarse laughed the jailor grim: “Shall I be won to hear;
Dost think, fond, dreaming wretch, that I shall grant thy prayer?
Or, better still, wilt melt my master’s heart with groans?
Ah! sooner might the sun thaw down these granite stones.

“My master’s voice is low, his aspect bland and kind,
But hard as hardest flint the soul that lurks behind;
And I am rough and rude, yet not more rough to see
Than is the hidden ghost that has its home in me.”

About her lips there played a smile of almost scorn,
“My friend,” she gently said, “you have not heard me mourn;
When you my kindred’s lives, MY lost life, can restore,
Then may I weep and sue,—but never, friend, before!

“Still, let my tyrants know, I am not doomed to wear
Year after year in gloom, and desolate despair;
A messenger of Hope comes every night to me,
And offers for short life, eternal liberty.

“He comes with western winds, with evening’s wandering airs,
With that clear dusk of heaven that brings the thickest stars.
Winds take a pensive tone, and stars a tender fire,
And visions rise, and change, that kill me with desire.

“Desire for nothing known in my maturer years,
When Joy grew mad with awe, at counting future tears.
When, if my spirit’s sky was full of flashes warm,
I knew not whence they came, from sun or thunder-storm.

“But, first, a hush of peace—a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress, and fierce impatience ends;
Mute music soothes my breast—unuttered harmony,
That I could never dream, till Earth was lost to me.

“Then dawns the Invisible; the Unseen its truth reveals;
My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels:
Its wings are almost free—its home, its harbour found,
Measuring the gulph, it stoops and dares the final bound,

“Oh I dreadful is the check—intense the agony—
When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb, the brain to think again;
The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.

“Yet I would lose no sting, would wish no torture less;
The more that anguish racks, the earlier it will bless;
And robed in fires of hell, or bright with heavenly shine,
If it but herald death, the vision is divine!”

She ceased to speak, and we, unanswering, turned to go—
We had no further power to work the captive woe:
Her cheek, her gleaming eye, declared that man had given
A sentence, unapproved, and overruled by Heaven.


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 forever, 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?

“Shall earth no more inspire thee”

Shall earth no more inspire thee,

Thou lonely dreamer now?

Since passion may not fire thee

Shall Nature cease to bow?

Thy mind is ever moving

In regions dark to thee;

Recall its useless roving—

Come back and dwell with me.

I know my mountain breezes

Enchant and soothe thee still—

I know my sunshine pleases

Despite thy wayward will.

When day with evening blending

Sinks from the summer sky,

I’ve seen thy spirit bending

In fond idolatry.

I’ve watched thee every hour;

I know my mighty sway,

I know my magic power

To drive thy griefs away.

Few hearts to mortals given

On earth so wildly pine;

Yet none would ask a heaven

More like this earth than thine.

Then let my winds caress thee;

Thy comrade let me be—

Since nought beside can bless thee,

Return and dwell with me.

“Silent is the House”

Come, the wind may never again

Blow as now it blows for us;

And the stars may never again shine as now they shine;

Long before October returns,

Seas of blood will have parted us;

And you must crush the love in your heart, and I the love in mine!


I'll not weep that thou art going to leave me,

There's nothing lovely here;

And doubly will the dark world grieve me,

While thy heart suffers there.

I'll not weep, because the summer's glory

Must always end in gloom;

And, follow out the happiest story—

It closes with a tomb!

And I am weary of the anguish

Increasing winters bear;

Weary to watch the spirit languish

Through years of dead despair.

So, if a tear, when thou art dying,

Should haply fall from me,

It is but that my soul is sighing,

To go and rest with thee.

“There are two trees in a lonely field”

There are two trees in a lonely field;
They breathe a spell to me;
A dreary thought their dark boughs yield,
All waving solemnly.

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