RIP Emily Bronte

It’s a little/well known fact (depending on if you know it or not) that Emily Bronte died 164 years ago today.  It’s also a well/little known fact that she wrote a lot of great poetry as well as her one novel Wuthering Heights. I used the poetry and juvenile prose of all the Bronte’s in my play WE WOVE A WEB IN CHILDHOOD which was performed 20 years ago.

Here is a clip of the opening prologue scene. The video quality is POOR, the lines not word perfect (it was a dress rehearsal) but it gives you a flavour. You’ll have to wait till August next year for the whole play to come online and be republished in ebook format – it will be ready by the time of the 2nd Edinburgh eBook Festival!  Something to look forward to eh?

And as an extra – because it’s a day to remember, I’ve taken the liberty of copying one of Emily’s poems below:

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?


About callyphillips

3 Responses to RIP Emily Bronte

  1. Fascinating – I didn’t know you’d written a play on the Brontes. And the poem – it gets me every time – one of the most passionate, moving poems about love and grief ever written. Why isn’t EB included in some of the greatest poets of the 19th century?

  2. Pauline Fisk says:

    When I was a teenager, writing short stories and poetry and dreaming of becoming a writer one day, I would have given my life if I could have been reborn as Emily Bronte. It wasn’t enough to read Wuthering Heights. I wanted to have written it too. Well, it’s a good job I never read this poem as well. So melodramatic was I in my young life that I don’t think I could have coped with it. Leonard Cohen just about, but definitely not this one by Emily.

  3. Beautiful poem – it seems like a variant on the ‘Unquiet Grave’ ballads. I wonder if it was inspired by them?

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