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Emily Brontë at 200: Three Poems

Julia Wytrazek | © Culture Trip
Julia Wytrazek | © Culture Trip
Emily Brontë, the renowned author of Wuthering Heights, was born on July 30, 1818. The middle of the three Brontë sisters, Emily spent her childhood thinking up fantastical stories from her home in Yorkshire, fuelled by her imaginative spark. Best known for her only novel and literary classic Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë’s first published work was in fact a series of poems written under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. Often discarded from her literary legacy, Culture Trip shines a light on three of Brontë’s poems on the 200th anniversary of her birth.

‘Hope’

Published in the 1846 collection Poems By Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell

Hope was but a timid friend;

She sat without the grated den,

Watching how my fate would tend,

Even as selfish-hearted men.

She was cruel in her fear;

Through the bars, one dreary day,

I looked out to see her there,

And she turned her face away!

Like a false guard, false watch keeping,

Still, in strife, she whispered peace;

She would sing while I was weeping;

If I listened, she would cease.

False she was, and unrelenting;

When my last joys strewed the ground,

Even Sorrow saw, repenting,

Those sad relics scattered round;

Hope, whose whisper would have given

Balm to all my frenzied pain,

Stretched her wings, and soared to heaven,

Went, and ne’er returned again !

‘She dried her tears, and they did smile’

From The Complete Poems by Emily Brontë

She dried her tears, and they did smile

To see her cheeks’ returning glow;

Nor did discern how all the while

That full heart throbbed to overflow.

With that sweet look and lively tone,

And bright eye shining all the day,

They could not guess, at midnight lone

How she would weep the time away.

‘No Coward Soul is Mine’

Published in the 1846 collection Poems By Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell

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 Thine 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:

Thou – Thou art Being and Breath,

And what Thou art may never be destroyed.