Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Emily Bronte: "Redbreast, early in the morning"


Redbreast, early in the morning
Dank and cold and cloudy grey,
Wildly tender is thy music,
Chasing angry thought away.

My heart is not enraptured now,
My eyes are full of tears,
And constant sorrow on my brow
Has done the work of years.

It was not hope that wrecked at once
The spirit's calm in storm,
But a long life of solitude,
Hopes quenched and rising thoughts subdued,
A bleak November's calm.

What woke it then? A little child
Strayed from its father's cottage door,
And in the hour of moonlight wild
Laid lonely on the desert moor.

I heard it then, you heard it too,
And seraph sweet it sang to you;
But like the shriek of misery
That wild, wild music wailed to me.




With the Charlotte Bronte double centenary almost upon us, I have to confess that I still haven't read Jane Eyre or Villette. And Emily was by far the better poet, so here's Emily instead. My impression is that Charlotte was a student of her solitude in relation to other people, whereas Emily was a student of her solitude qua solitude. That's probably glib but may be a part-explanation of why Emily's poetry has far more power.