Best Poems of the Brontë Sisters

Best Poems of the Brontë Sisters

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Overview

"In this collection of their poetry, published under gender-concealing pseudonyms, we get an intimate glimpse of their fears, hopes, faith, and desires." — Haunted Library
"This collection is not only for fans of the Brontë Sisters and classic rhyming poetry but also for readers that crave heartbreaking gothic angst." — Eastside Middle School
Among the most talented siblings in English literary history, the Brontë sisters are best remembered for their novels: Emily's Wuthering Heights, Charlotte's Jane Eyre, and Anne's Tenant of Wildfell Hall, among other works. It is less well known that the sisters also composed a considerable amount of fine poetry.
This volume contains forty-seven poems by all three sisters. Selections include Charlotte's "Presentiment," "Passion," two poems on the deaths of her sisters, and six more. There are twenty-three poems by Emily (considered the best poet of the three), including "Faith and Despondency" and "No Coward Soul Is Mine." The works of all three sisters share the qualities of intelligence, awareness, and heartfelt emotion, expressed in simple, highly readable verse. Gathered in this handy, inexpensive collection, the poems represent a superb introduction to a lesser-known aspect of the Brontës' literary art.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486295299
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 01/15/2016
Series: Dover Thrift Editions Series
Pages: 64
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Despite the tragic brevity of their lives, the Brontë sisters created some of the greatest works of the early Victorian era. Their novels include Jane Eyre (Charlotte, 1816–55), Wuthering Heights (Emily, 1818–48), and Agnes Grey (Anne, 1820–49).

Read an Excerpt

Best Poems of the Brontë Sisters


By Emily Brontë, ANNE BRONTË, Charlotte Brontë

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1997 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-29529-9



CHAPTER 1

CHARLOTTE BRONTË


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 mossy 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,
    E'er 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.


    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, exulting then:
    All my heaven was once thy breast,
    Would it were mine again!


    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 wound,
      T would 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,
    When 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!


    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, mom 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 mom 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!


    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!


    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!


    Parting

    There's no use in weeping,
    Though we are condemned to part:
    There's such a thing as keeping
    A remembrance in one's heart:

    There's such a thing as dwelling
    On the thought ourselves have nurs'd,
    And with scorn and courage telling
    The world to do its worst.

    We'll not let its follies grieve us,
    We'll just take them as they come;
    And then every day will leave us
    A merry laugh for home.

    When we've left each friend and brother,
    When we're parted wide and far,
    We will think of one another,
    As even better than we are.

    Every glorious sight above us,
    Every pleasant sight beneath,
    We'll connect with those that love us,
    Whom we truly love till death!

    In the evening, when we're sitting
    By the fire perchance alone,
    Then shall heart with warm heart meeting,
    Give responsive tone for tone.

    We can burst the bonds which chain us,
    Which cold human hands have wrought,
    And where none shall dare restrain us
    We can meet again, in thought.

    So there's no use in weeping,
    Bear a cheerful spirit still;
    Never doubt that Fate is keeping
    Future good for present ill!


    Winter Stores

    We take from life one little share,
    And say that this shall be
    A space, redeemed from toil and care,
    From tears and sadness free.

    And, haply, Death unstrings his bow
    And Sorrow stands apart,
    And, for a little while, we know
    The sunshine of the heart.

    Existence seems a summer eve,
    Warm, soft, and full of peace;
    Our free, unfettered feelings give
    The soul its full release.

    A moment, then, it takes the power,
      To call up thoughts that throw
    Around that charmed and hallowed hour,
      This life's divinest glow.

    But Time, though viewlessly it flies,
      And slowly, will not stay;
    Alike, through clear and clouded skies,
      It cleaves its silent way.

    Alike the bitter cup of grief,
      Alike the draught of bliss,
    Its progress leaves but moment brief
      For baffled lips to kiss.

    The sparkling draught is dried away,
      The hour of rest is gone,
    And urgent voices, round us, say,
      "Ho, lingerer, hasten on!"

    And has the soul, then, only gained,
      From this brief time of ease,
    A moment's rest, when overstrained,
    One hurried glimpse of peace?

    No; while the sun shone kindly o'er us,
      And flowers bloomed round our feet, —
    While many a bud of joy before us
      Unclosed its petals sweet, —
    An unseen work within was plying;
      Like honey-seeking bee,
    From flower to flower, unwearied, flying,
      Laboured one faculty, —

    Thoughtful for Winter's future sorrow,
      Its gloom and scarcity;
    Prescient to-day, of want to-morrow,
      Toiled quiet Memory.

    'Tis she that from each transient pleasure
      Extracts a lasting good;
    'Tis she that finds, in summer, treasure
      To serve for winter's food.

    And when Youth's summer day is vanished,
      And Age brings Winter's stress,
    Her stores, with hoarded sweets replenished,
      Life's evening hours will bless.


    On the Death of Emily Jane Brontë

    My darling, thou wilt never know
    The grinding agony of woe
      That we have borne for thee.
    Thus may we consolation tear
    E'en from the depth of our despair
      And wasting misery.

    The nightly anguish thou art spared
    When all the crushing truth is bared
      To the awakening mind,
    When the galled heart is pierced with grief,
    Till wildly it implores relief,
      But small relief can find.

    Nor know'st thou what it is to lie
    Looking forth with streaming eye
      On life's lone wilderness.
    Weary, weary, dark and drear,
    How shall I the journey bear,
      The burden and distress?'

        Then since thou art spared such pain
    We will not wish thee here again;
      He that lives must mourn.
    God help us through our misery
    And give us rest and joy with thee
      When we reach our bourne!

    December 24, 1848.


    On the Death of Anne Brontë

    There's little joy in life for me,
      And little terror in the grave;
    I've lived the parting hour to see
      Of one I would have died to save.

    Calmly to watch the failing breath,
      Wishing each sigh might be the last;
    Longing to see the shade of death
      O'er those belovèd features cast.

    The cloud, the stillness that must part
      The darling of my life from me;
    And then to thank God from my heart,
      To thank Him well and fervently;

    Although I knew that we had lost
      The hope and glory of our life;
    And now, benighted, tempest-tossed,
      Must bear alone the weary strife.

    june 21, 1849.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Best Poems of the Brontë Sisters by Emily Brontë, ANNE BRONTË, Charlotte Brontë. Copyright © 1997 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855),
The Letter,
Regret,
Presentiment,
The Teacher's Monologue,
Passion,
Preference,
Parting,
Winter Stores,
On the Death of Emily Jane Brontë,
On the Death of Anne Brontë,
Emily Brontë (1818-1848),
Faith and Despondency,
Stars,
The Philosopher,
Remembrance,
A Death-Scene,
Song,
Anticipation,
The Prisoner. A Fragment,
Hope,
A Day Dream,
To Imagination,
How Clear She Shines,
Sympathy,
Plead for Me,
Self-Interrogation,
Death,
Stanzas to —,
Stanzas,
My Comforter,
The Old Stoic,
The Visionary,
The Night-Wind.,
No Coward Soul Is Min,
Anne Brontë (1820-1849),
A Reminiscence,
The Arbour,
Home,
The Penitent,
If This Be All,
Memory,
Past Days,
Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day,
Appeal,
The Captive Dove,
Self-Congratulation,
Fluctuations,
The Bluebell,
Last Lines,

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Best Poems of the Brontë Sisters 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Luli81 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great selection of poems by the Brontë Sisters, a style in which the sisters are less known.I didn't enjoy Wuthering Heights that much, but I loved Emily's poems. She was maybe the most daring of the sisters in her dramatic and mystical apporaches to tabu subjects such as suicide or obsession.Not to be missed for those who want to know more about the Brontë's or their work.