Poems (1850)
by the

Brontė Sisters

from the 1846 edition:

 by Anne Brontė
A Reminiscence
The Arbour
Vanitas Vanitatum, Omnia Vanitas
The Penitent
Music on Christmas Morning
If This Be All
To Cowper
The Doubter's Prrayer
A Word to the "Elect"
Past Days
The Consolation
Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day
Views of Life
The Student's Serenade
The Captive Dove

 by Emily Brontė
Faith and Despondency
The Philosopher
A Death Scene
The Prisoner
A Day Dream
How Clear She Shines
Plead for Me
Stanzas to ----
Honour's Martyr
My Comforter
The Old Stoic

 by Charlotte Brontė
Pilate's Wife's Dream
The Wife's Will
The Wood
The Letter
The Teacher's Monologue
Eveining Solace
Winter Stores
The Missionary

from the 1850 edition:

 from the "literary remains" of Emily Brontė
A Little While, A Little While
The Bluebell
Loud Without the Wind was Roaring
Shall Earth No More Inspire Thee
The Night Wind
It Wakes To-Night
Love and Friendship
The Elder's Rebuke
The Wanderer from the Fold
Warning and Reply
Last Words
The Lady to Her Guitar
The Two Children
The Visionary
No Coward Soul is Mine
 from the "literary remains" of Anne Brontė
A Prayer
In Memory of a Happy Day in February
Lines Written from Home
The Narrow Way
Domestic Peace
The Three Guides
Hoped, That With The Brave And Strong

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Poems, by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell

(Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontė)

(Originally published in 1846, this text is trom the 1850 edition,
with comments and additional selctions added by Charlotte)

The Bronte Sisters
Portrait of the sisters (Anne, Emily and Charlotte) by their brother, Branwell. He originally
included himself in the center of the portrait, but painted himself
out. A shadow of his outline remains. [ca. 1834]

[Editor's Note: All comments among the poems below are by Charlotte Bronte on poems by her sister Anne, that Charlotte seleected to include in the 1850 edition:]

In looking over my sister Anne's papers, I find mournful evidence that religious feeling had been to her but too much like what it was to Cowper; I mean, of course, in a far milder form. Without rendering her a prey to those horrors that defy concealment, it subdued her mood and bearing to a perpetual pensiveness; the pillar of a cloud glided constantly before her eyes; she ever waited at the foot of a secret Sinai, listening in her heart to the voice of a trumpet sounding long and waxing louder. Some, perhaps, would rejoice over these tokens of sincere though sorrowing piety in a deceased relative: I own, to me they seem sad, as if her whole innocent life had been passed under the martyrdom of an unconfessed physical pain: their effect, indeed, would be too distressing, were it not combated by the certain knowledge that in her last moments this tyranny of a too tender conscience was overcome; this pomp of terrors broke up, and passing away, left her dying hour unclouded. Her belief in God did not then bring to her dread, as of a stern Judge,--but hope, as in a Creator and Saviour: and no faltering hope was it, but a sure and stedfast conviction, on which, in the rude passage from Time to Eternity, she threw the weight of her human weakness, and by which she was enabled to bear what was to be borne, patiently--serenely--victoriously.


. Despondency

    I HAVE gone backward in the work;
    The labour has not sped;
    Drowsy and dark my spirit lies,
    Heavy and dull as lead.

    How can I rouse my sinking soul
    From such a lethargy?
    How can I break these iron chains
    And set my spirit free?

    There have been times when I have mourned!
    In anguish o'er the past,
    And raised my suppliant hands on high,
    While tears fell thick and fast;

    And prayed to have my sins forgiven,
    With such a fervent zeal,
    An earnest grief, a strong desire
    As now I cannot feel.

    And I have felt so full of love,
    So strong in spirit then,
    As if my heart would never cool,
    Or wander back again.

    And yet, alas! how many times
    My feet have gone astray!
    How oft have I forgot my God!
    How greatly fallen away!

    My sins increase--my love grows cold,
    And Hope within me dies:
    Even Faith itself is wavering now;
    Oh, how shall I arise?

    I cannot weep, but I can pray,
    Then let me not despair:
    Lord Jesus, save me, lest I die!
    Christ, hear my humble prayer!

    Anne Bronte


. A Prayer

    MY God (oh, let me call Thee mine,
    Weak, wretched sinner though I be),
    My trembling soul would fain be Thine;
    My feeble faith still clings to Thee.

    Not only for the Past I grieve,
    The Future fills me with dismay;
    Unless Thou hasten to relieve,
    Thy suppliant is a castaway.

    I cannot say my faith is strong,
    I dare not hope my love is great;
    But strength and love to Thee belong;
    Oh, do not leave me desolate!

    I know I owe my all to Thee;
    Oh, take the heart I cannot give!
    Do Thou my strength--my Saviour be,
    And make me to Thy glory live.

    Anne Bronte


. In Memory of a Happy Day in February

    BLESSED be Thou for all the joy
    My soul has felt to-day!
    Oh, let its memory stay with me,
    And never pass away!

    I was alone, for those I loved
    Were far away from me;
    The sun shone on the withered grass,
    The wind blew fresh and free.

    Was it the smile of early spring
    That made my bosom glow?
    'Twas sweet; but neither sun nor wind
    Could cheer my spirit so.

    Was it some feeling of delight
    All vague and undefined?
    No; 'twas a rapture deep and strong,
    Expanding in the mind.

    Was it a sanguine view of life,
    And all its transient bliss,
    A hope of bright prosperity?
    Oh, no! it was not this.

    It was a glimpse of truth divine
    Unto my spirit given,
    Illumined by a ray of light
    That shone direct from heaven.

    I felt there was a God on high,
    By whom all things were made;
    I saw His wisdom and His power
    In all his works displayed.

    But most throughout the moral world,
    I saw his glory shine;
    I saw His wisdom infinite,
    His mercy all divine.

    Deep secrets of His providence,
    In darkness long concealed,
    Unto the vision of my soul
    Were graciously revealed.

    But while I wondered and adored
    His Majesty divine,
    I did not tremble at His power:
    I felt that God was mine;

    I knew that my Redeemer lived;
    I did not fear to die;
    Full sure that I should rise again
    To immortality.

    I longed to view that bliss divine,
    Which eye hath never seen;
    Like Moses, I would see His face
    Without the veil between.

    Anne Bronte


. Confidence

    OPRESSED with sin and woe,
    A burdened heart I bear,
    Opposed by many a mighty foe;
    But I will not despair.

    With this polluted heart,
    I dare to come to Thee,
    Holy and mighty as Thou art,
    For Thou wilt pardon me.

    I feel that I am weak,
    And prone to every sin;
    But Thou who giv'st to those who seek,
    Wilt give me strength within.

    Far as this earth may be
    From yonder starry skies;
    Remoter still am I from Thee:
    Yet Thou wilt not despise.

    I need not fear my foes,
    I deed not yield to care;
    I need not sink beneath my woes,
    For Thou wilt answer prayer.

    In my Redeemer's name,
    I give myself to Thee;
    And, all unworthy as I am,
    My God will cherish me.

    Anne Bronte

My sister Anne had to taste the cup of life as it is mixed for the class termed "Governesses."

The following are some of the thoughts that now and then solace a governess:--


. Lines Written from Home

    THOUGH bleak these woods, and damp the ground,
    With fallen leaves so thickly strewn,
    And cold the wind that wanders round
    With wild and melancholy moan;

    There is a friendly roof I know,
    Might shield me from the wintry blast;
    There is a fire whose ruddy glow
    Will cheer me for my wanderings past.

    And so, though still where'er I go
    Cold stranger glances meet my eye;
    Though, when my spirit sinks in woe,
    Unheeded swells the unbidden sigh;

    Though solitude, endured too long,
    Bids youthful joys too soon decay,
    Makes mirth a stranger to my tongue,
    And overclouds my noon of day;

    When kindly thoughts that would have way
    Flow back, discouraged, to my breast,
    I know there is, though far away,
    A home where heart and soul may rest.

    Warm hands are there, that, clasped in mine,
    The warmer heart will not belie;
    While mirth and truth, and friendship shine
    In smiling lip and earnest eye.

    The ice that gathers round my heart
    May there be thawed; and sweetly, then,
    The joys of youth, that now depart,
    Will come to cheer my soul again.

    Though far I roam, that thought shall be
    My hope, my comfort everywhere;
    While such a home remains to me,
    My heart shall never know despair.

    Anne Bronte


. The Narrow Way

    BELIEVE not those who say
    The upward path is smooth,
    Lest thou shouldst stumble in the way,
    And faint before the truth.

    It is the only road
    Unto the realms of joy;
    But he who seeks that blest abode
    Must all his powers employ.

    Bright hopes and pure delight
    Upon his course may beam,
    And there, amid the sternest heights,
    The sweetest flowerets gleam.

    On all her breezes borne,
    Earth yields no scents like those;
    But he that dares not gasp the thorn
    Should never crave the rose.

    Arm--arm thee for the fight!
    Cast useless loads away;
    Watch through the darkest hours of night;
    Toil through the hottest day.

    Crush pride into the dust,
    Or thou must needs be slack;
    And trample down rebellious lust,
    Or it will hold thee back.

    Seek not thy honour here;
    Waive pleasure and renown;
    The world's dread scoff undaunted bear,
    And face its deadliest frown.

    To labour and to love,
    To pardon and endure,
    To lift thy heart to God above,
    And keep thy conscience pure;

    Be this thy constant aim,
    Thy hope, thy chief delight;
    What matter who should whisper blame
    Or who should scorn or slight?

    What matter, if thy God approve,
    And if, within thy breast,
    Thou feel the comfort of His love,
    The earnest of His rest?

    Anne Bronte


. Domestic Peace

    WHY should such gloomy silence reign,
    And why is all the house so drear,
    When neither danger, sickness, pain,
    Nor death, nor want, have entered here?

    We are as many as we were
    That other night, when all were gay
    And full of hope, and free from care;
    Yet is there something gone away.

    The moon without, as pure and calm,
    Is shining as that night she shone;
    But now, to us, she brings no balm,
    For something from our hearts is gone.

    Something whose absence leaves a void--
    A cheerless want in every heart;
    Each feels the bliss of all destroyed,
    And mourns the change--but each apart.

    The fire is burning in the grate
    As redly as it used to burn;
    But still the hearth is desolate,
    Till mirth, and love, and PEACE return.

    'Twas Peace that flowed from heart to heart,
    With looks and smiles that spoke of heaven,
    And gave us language to impart
    The blissful thoughts itself had given.

    Domestic peace! best joy of earth,
    When shall we all thy value learn?
    White angel, to our sorrowing hearth,
    Return--oh, graciously return!

    Anne Bronte


. The Three Guides

    [First published in FRASER'S MAGAZINE]

    SPIRIT of Earth! thy hand is chill:
    I've felt its icy clasp;
    And, shuddering, I remember still
    That stony-hearted grasp.
    Thine eye bids love and joy depart:
    Oh, turn its gaze from me!
    It presses down my shrinking heart;
    I will not walk with thee!

    "Wisdom is mine," I've heard thee say:
    "Beneath my searching eye
    All mist and darkness melt away,
    Phantoms and fables fly.
    Before me truth can stand alone,
    The naked, solid truth;
    And man matured by worth will own,
    If I am shunned by youth.

    "Firm is my tread, and sure though slow;
    My footsteps never slide;
    And he that follows me shall know
    I am the surest guide."
    Thy boast is vain; but were it true
    That thou couldst safely steer
    Life's rough and devious pathway through,
    Such guidance I should fear.

    How could I bear to walk for aye,
    With eyes to earthward prone,
    O'er trampled weeds and miry clay,
    And sand and flinty stone;
    Never the glorious view to greet
    Of hill and dale, and sky;
    To see that Nature's charms are sweet,
    Or feel that Heaven is nigh?

    If in my heart arose a spring,
    A gush of thought divine,
    At once stagnation thou wouldst bring
    With that cold touch of thine.
    If, glancing up, I sought to snatch
    But one glimpse of the sky,
    My baffled gaze would only catch
    Thy heartless, cold grey eye.

    If to the breezes wandering near,
    I listened eagerly,
    And deemed an angel's tongue to hear
    That whispered hope to me,
    That heavenly music would be drowned
    In thy harsh, droning voice;
    Nor inward thought, nor sight, nor sound,
    Might my sad soul rejoice.

    Dull is thine ear, unheard by thee
    The still, small voice of Heaven;
    Thine eyes are dim and cannot see
    The helps that God has given.
    There is a bridge o'er every flood
    Which thou canst not perceive;
    A path through every tangled wood,
    But thou wilt not believe.

    Striving to make thy way by force,
    Toil-spent and bramble-torn,
    Thou'lt fell the tree that checks thy course,
    And burst through brier and thorn:
    And, pausing by the river's side,
    Poor reasoner! thou wilt deem,
    By casting pebbles in its tide,
    To cross the swelling stream.

    Right through the flinty rock thou'lt try
    Thy toilsome way to bore,
    Regardless of the pathway nigh
    That would conduct thee o'er
    Not only art thou, then, unkind,
    And freezing cold to me,
    But unbelieving, deaf, and blind:
    I will not walk with thee!

    Spirit of Pride! thy wings are strong,
    Thine eyes like lightning shine;
    Ecstatic joys to thee belong,
    And powers almost divine.
    But 'tis a false, destructive blaze
    Within those eyes I see;
    Turn hence their fascinating gaze;
    I will not follow thee.

    "Coward and fool!" thou mayst reply,
    Walk on the common sod;
    Go, trace with timid foot and eye
    The steps by others trod.
    'Tis best the beaten path to keep,
    The ancient faith to hold;
    To pasture with thy fellow-sheep,
    And lie within the fold.

    "Cling to the earth, poor grovelling worm;
    'Tis not for thee to soar
    Against the fury of the storm,
    Amid the thunder's roar!
    There's glory in that daring strife
    Unknown, undreamt by thee;
    There's speechless rapture in the life
    Of those who follow me.

    Yes, I have seen thy votaries oft,
    Upheld by thee their guide,
    In strength and courage mount aloft
    The steepy mountain-side;
    I've seen them stand against the sky,
    And gazing from below,
    Beheld thy lightning in their eye
    Thy triumph on their brow.

    Oh, I have felt what glory then,
    What transport must be theirs!
    So far above their fellow-men,
    Above their toils and cares;
    Inhaling Nature's purest breath,
    Her riches round them spread,
    The wide expanse of earth beneath,
    Heaven's glories overhead!

    But I have seen them helpless, dash'd
    Down to a bloody grave,
    And still thy ruthless eye has flash'd,
    Thy strong hand did not save;
    I've seen some o'er the mountain's brow
    Sustain'd awhile by thee,
    O'er rocks of ice and hills of snow
    Bound fearless, wild, and free.

    Bold and exultant was their mien,
    While thou didst cheer them on;
    But evening fell,--and then, I ween,
    Their faithless guide was gone.
    Alas! how fared thy favourites then,--
    Lone, helpless, weary, cold?
    Did ever wanderer find again
    The path he left of old?

    Where is their glory, where the pride
    That swelled their hearts before?
    Where now the courage that defied
    The mightiest tempest's roar?
    What shall they do when night grows black,
    When angry storms arise?
    Who now will lead them to the track
    Thou taught'st them to despise?

    Spirit of Pride, it needs not this
    To make me shun thy wiles,
    Renounce thy triumph and thy bliss,
    Thy honours and thy smiles!
    Bright as thou art, and bold, and strong,
    That fierce glance wins not me,
    And I abhor thy scoffing tongue--
    I will not follow thee!

    Spirit of Faith! be thou my guide,
    O clasp my hand in thine,
    And let me never quit thy side;
    Thy comforts are divine!
    Earth calls thee blind, misguided one,--
    But who can shew like thee
    Forgotten things that have been done,
    And things that are to be?

    Secrets conceal'd from Nature's ken,
    Who like thee can declare?
    Or who like thee to erring men
    God's holy will can bear?
    Pride scorns thee for thy lowly mien,--
    But who like thee can rise
    Above this toilsome, sordid scene,
    Beyond the holy skies?

    Meek is thine eye and soft thy voice,
    But wondrous is thy might,
    To make the wretched soul rejoice,
    To give the simple light!
    And still to all that seek thy way
    This magic power is given,--
    E'en while their footsteps press the clay,
    Their souls ascend to heaven.

    Danger surrounds them,--pain and woe
    Their portion here must be,
    But only they that trust thee know
    What comfort dwells with thee;
    Strength to sustain their drooping pow'rs,
    And vigour to defend,--
    Thou pole-star of my darkest hours
    Affliction's firmest friend!

    Day does not always mark our way,
    Night's shadows oft appal,
    But lead me, and I cannot stray,--
    Hold me, I shall not fall;
    Sustain me, I shall never faint,
    How rough soe'er may be
    My upward road,--nor moan, nor plaint
    Shall mar my trust in thee.

    Narrow the path by which we go,
    And oft it turns aside
    From pleasant meads where roses blow,
    And peaceful waters glide;
    Where flowery turf lies green and soft,
    And gentle gales are sweet,
    To where dark mountains frown aloft,
    Hard rocks distress the feet,--

    Deserts beyond lie bleak and bare,
    And keen winds round us blow;
    But if thy hand conducts me there,
    The way is right, I know.
    I have no wish to turn away;
    My spirit does not quail,--
    How can it while I hear thee say,
    "Press forward and prevail!"

    Even above the tempest's swell
    I hear thy voice of love,--
    Of hope and peace, I hear thee tell,
    And that blest home above;
    Through pain and death I can rejoice.
    If but thy strength be mine,--
    Earth hath no music like thy voice,
    Life owns no joy like thine!

    Spirit of Faith, I'll go with thee!
    Thou, if I hold thee fast,
    Wilt guide, defend, and strengthen me,
    And bear me home at last;
    By thy help all things I can do,
    In thy strength all things bear,--
    Teach me, for thou art just and true,
    Smile on me, thou art fair!

    Anne Bronte

I have given the last memento of my sister Emily; this is the last of my sister Anne:--


. I Hoped, That With The Brave And Strong

    I HOPED, that with the brave and strong,
    My portioned task might lie;
    To toil amid the busy throng,
    With purpose pure and high.

    But God has fixed another part,
    And He has fixed it well;
    I said so with my bleeding heart,
    When first the anguish fell.

    Thou, God, hast taken our delight,
    Our treasured hope away:
    Thou bid'st us now weep through the night
    And sorrow through the day.

    These weary hours will not be lost,
    These days of misery,
    These nights of darkness, anguish-tost,
    Can I but turn to Thee.

    With secret labour to sustain
    In humble patience every blow;
    To gather fortitude from pain,
    And hope and holiness from woe.

    Thus let me serve Thee from my heart,
    Whate'er may be my written fate:
    Whether thus early to depart,
    Or yet a while to wait.

    If Thou shouldst bring me back to life,
    More humbled I should be;
    More wise--more strengthened for the strife--
    More apt to lean on Thee.

    Should death be standing at the gate,
    Thus should I keep my vow:
    But, Lord! whatever be my fate,
    Oh, let me serve Thee now!

    Anne Bronte

These lines written, the desk was closed, the pen laid aside--for ever.

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