Emily Brontë

(Any misspellings are those of the Brontës themselves.)

I Am the Only Being (1836)

[Probably highly autobiographical, this was in fact written right around her eighteenth birthday.]

I am the only being whose doom
No tongue would ask no eye would mourn
I never caused a thought of gloom
A smile of joy since I was born

In secret pleasure--secret tears
This changeful life has slipped away
As friendless after eighteen years
As lone as on my natal day

There have been times I cannot hide
There have been times when this was drear
When my sad soul forgot its pride
And longed for one to love me here

But those were in the early glow
Of feelings since subdued by care
And they have died so long ago
I hardly now believe they were

First melted off the hope of youth
Then Fancy's rainbow fast withdrew
And then experience told me truth
In mortal bosoms never grew

'Twas grief enough to think mankind
All hollow servile insincere
But worse to trust to my own mind
And find the same corruption there

Shall Earth No More Inspire Thee (May 1841)

[The narrator here is nature itself. The poem reflects Emily's deep love of nature and its ability to soothe troubled spirits.]

Shall Earth no more inspire thee,
Thou lonely dreamer now?
Since passion may not fire thee
Shall Nature cease to bow?

Thy mind is ever moving
In regions dark to thee;
Recall its useless roving -
Come back and dwell with me -

I know my mountain breezes
Enchant and soothe thee still -
I know my sunshine pleases
Despite thy wayward will -

When day with evening blending
Sinks from the summer sky,
I've seen thy spirit bending
In fond idolatry -

I've watched thee every hour -
I know my mighty sway -
I know my magic power
To drive thy griefs away -

Few hearts to mortals given
On earth so wildly pine
Yet none would ask a Heaven
More like the Earth than thine -

Then let my winds caress thee -
Thy comrades let me be -
Since naught beside can bless thee
Return and dwell with me -

The Prisoner (October 1845)

[Originally a very long Gondal poem, edited to remove all Gondal-specific references. It is one of her most famous, rightly so given its power and immediacy.]

He comes with western winds, with evening's wandering airs, 
With that clear dusk of heaven that brings the thickest stars; 
Winds take a pensive tone and stars a tender fire 
And visions rise and change which kill me with desire -

Desire for nothing known in my maturer years
When joy grew mad with awe, at counting future tears;
When, if my spirit's sky was fall of flashes warm,
I knew not whence they came from sun or thunder storm;

But first a hush of peace, a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress and feirce impatience ends
Mute music sooths my breast - unuttered harmony
That I could never dream till earth was lost to me.

Then dawns the Invisible; the Unseen its truth reveals;
My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels - 
Its wings are almost free, its home, its harbour found;
Measuring the gulf, it stoops and dares the final bound - 

0, dreadful is the check - intense the agony
When the ear begins to hear and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb, the brain to think again,
The soul to feel the flesh and the flesh to feel the chain.

Yet I would lose no sting, would wish no torture less;
The more that anguish racks the earlier it will bless;
And robed in fires of Hell, or bright with heavenly shine
If it but herald Death, the vision is divine - 

No Coward Soul is Mine (25 January 1846)

[The last poem Emily considered worthy of transcribing into her poetry notebook. Charlotte always claimed it was her sister's very last verse, but this is probably not true. It's just her last really good verse.]

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 thy infinity
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality

With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years
Prevades 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
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.