Today is the birthday of writer and poet Emily Bronte (b.1818 – 1848 Thornton Yorkshire). She was the fifth child of Patrick Branwell and Maria Branwell, parents of the famous Bronte’s of Haworth Yorkshire. Emily wrote poetry and one novel ‘Wuthering Heights‘ before she died in 1848 after catching cold at her brother Branwell’s funeral, refusing all medical aid until it was too late. Emily is always depicted as the quiet Bronte, other worldly, spiritual. But she was also a home body too and pined for her home and the moors when she was sent away to school at Roe Head.
Wuthering Heights, a tale of passion, tragedy and love beyond the grave was published in 1847 and received mixed reviews, but it was become a literary classic. Much has been written about Emily Bronte the woman and there has been a lot of speculation about this quiet, private and almost mystical author.
As children the Bronte’s devised stories and poems about the exploits of their toy soldiers who inhabited an imaginary kingdom called Angria. When Emily was 13, she and her sister Ann left Angria and built Gondal – an imaginary island in the South Pacific. They wrote stories about Gondal, but only the Gondal names and places and some diary papers survive. Her poems are often described as spiritual and passionate. The following comes from Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell in 1846 (Emily is of course ‘Ellis’
How clear She Shines
How clear she shines! How quietly
I lie beneath her guardian light;
While heaven and earth are whispering me,
“To morrow, wake, but dream to-night.”
Yes, Fancy, come, my Fairy love!
These throbbing temples softly kiss;
And bend my lonely couch above,
And bring me rest, and bring me bliss.
The world is going; dark world, adieu!
Grim world, conceal thee till the day;
The heart thou canst not all subdue
Must still resist, if thou delay!
Thy love I will not, will not share;
Thy hatred only wakes a smile;
Thy griefs may wound–thy wrongs may tear,
But, oh, thy lies shall ne’er beguile!
While gazing on the stars that glow
Above me, in that stormless sea,
I long to hope that all the woe
Creation knows, is held in thee!
And this shall be my dream to-night;
I’ll think the heaven of glorious spheres
Is rolling on its course of light
In endless bliss, through endless years;
I’ll think, there’s not one world above,
Far as these straining eyes can see,
Where Wisdom ever laughed at Love,
Or Virtue crouched to Infamy;
Where, writhing ‘neath the strokes of Fate,
The mangled wretch was forced to smile;
To match his patience ‘gainst her hate,
His heart rebellious all the while.
Where Pleasure still will lead to wrong,
And helpless Reason warn in vain;
And Truth is weak, and Treachery strong;
And Joy the surest path to Pain;
And Peace, the lethargy of Grief;
And Hope, a phantom of the soul;
And life, a labour, void and brief;
And Death, the despot of the whole!
The Bronte’s themselves have inspired many books, plays and songs – Wuthering Heights especially.
Here’s two videos the first inspired by Emily Bronte’s novel and the second by her poem above:-
Wuthering Heights still here
Poem from here with thanks
Kate Bush video from KateBushMusic with thanks
How Clear she shines video from AnoisNl
There are more of my Bronte related posts in the Bronte category on the right side of the blog