Emily Brontë's poetry notebook

Description

This manuscript contains 16 poems by Emily Brontë, composed between 26 July 1837 and 15 October 1839. She was 21 years old when she made these fair copies in late 1839. The leaves formed part of a notebook, which was later rebound by T J Wise, a collector of Brontë manuscripts. 

This volume is the sole surviving manuscript source for nine of Brontë’s poems. It is also unique for being the only poetry notebook in her everyday handwriting; in her other surviving notebooks she wrote in a minute script which is almost illegible. 

Is the manuscript complete? 

Emily Brontë composed her poems on small scraps of paper, and later copied and recopied them into notebooks. Several leaves are missing from this manuscript because of her habit of tearing out earlier drafts of a poem when making a new copy in a later notebook. When she didn’t physically remove discarded drafts, she would cross them through instead. 

What are the poems about? 

At least half of the poems in this manuscript relate to the fictional world of Gondal, which Brontë and her sister Anne invented as children. These poems generally bear the names (or initials) of fictional characters, such as Brontë’s heroine Augusta Geraldine Almeda. The critic Christine Alexander has noted that, ‘As in Wuthering Heights, the Gondal poetry is dominated by situations of isolation, exile, revenge, and death.’ 

However, another critic Janet Gezari cautions against dividing Brontë’s poetic output into Gondal and non-Gondal poems, as many of the poems concerning fictional events also express Brontë’s personal thoughts and feelings.

Transcript

[at top of page, in pencil, in a later hand] 987

[folio 01r]

[page] 1 1


If I might hear thy voice in the hall.

But thou art now on this desolate sea
     ^ parted from       ^ parted from
Thinking of Gondal, and greiving for me;
Longing to be in sweet Elbë again; 
^ All my repining is hopeless and vain Thinking and greiving and longing in ^ vain
^ Death never gives back his victims again 

=========

E J Brontë - August 19th 1837 -

----------------------

To a Wreath of snow
by A.G. Almeda

O transient voyager of heaven!
O Silent sign of winter skies!
What adverse wind thy sail has ^ driven
To dungeons where a prisoner lies?

Methinks the hands that shut the ^ sun
So sternly from this mourning brow
Might still their rebel task have ^ don[e]
And checked a thing so frail as thou

They would have done it had
they known


[page] 2

The talisman that dwelt in thee,
For all the suns that ever shone
Have never been so kind to me!

For many a week, and many a day
My heart was weighed with sinking ^ gloom
When morning rose, in mourning grey
And faintly lit my prison room,

But angel like, when I awoke,
Thy silvery form so soft and fair
Shining through darkness, sweetly spoke
Of cloudy skies and mountains bare

The dearest to a mountaineer,
Who, all life long has loved the ^ snow
That crowned his native summits ^ drear,
Better, than greenest plains below
[page] 3 2

And voicless, souless, messenger
Thy presence waked a thrilling tone
That comforts me while thou art ^ here
And will sustain when thou art ^ gone

=========

Emily Jane Brontë - December - 1837
------------

song by Julius Angora
Awake ! awake ! how loud the stormy ^ morning
Calls up to life the nations resting round;
Arise, Arise, is it the voice of mourning,
That breaks our slumber with so ^ wild a sound?

The voice of mourning? listen to its peeling
That shout of triumph drowns the sigh ^ of woe
Each tortured heart forgets its wonted ^ feeling,
Each faded cheek resumes its long-lost ^ glow

Our souls are full of gladness, God has given
Our arms to victory, our foes to death;
The crimson ensign waves its sheet
in heaven


[page] 4

The sea-green Standard lies in dust be-^neath

Patriots; no stain is on your country’s ^ glory
Soldiers, preserve that glory bright and ^ free
Sit Almedore in peace, and battle-gorey,
Be still a nobler name for victory!
=========

Song April. 20th 1839


King Julius left the south country
His banners all bravely flying.
His followers went out with Jubille[e]
But they shall return with sighi[ng]

Loud arose the triumphal hymn
The drums were loudly rolling
Yet you might have heard in dista[nt] ^ din
How a passing-bell was tolling

The sward so bright from battles ^ won
With unseen rust is fretting

[page] 3 5

The evening comes before the noon
The scearce risen sun is sitting

While princes hang upon his breath
And nations round are fearing
Close by his side a daggered Death
With sheathless point stands sneer-^ing

That death he took a certain aim
For Death is stoney-hearted
And in the zenith of his fame
Both power and life departed.
=========

Lines by A. G. A. to A. S. May 25th 1838

O wander not so far away
O love forgive this selfish tear
It may be sad for thee to stay
But how can I live lonely here

[page] 6

[This page has a large X crossing it out]

The still may morn is warm and ^ brigh[t]
Sweet flowers are fresh and grass is ^ green
And in the haze of glorious light
Our long low hills are scearcely s[een]

Our woods even now their young leaves ^ h[ide]
The blackbird and the throstle well
And high in heaven so blue and ^ wid[e]
A thousand strains of music swel[l]

He looks on all with eyes that spea[k]
So deep so drear a woe to me
There is a faint red on his cheek
Not like the bloom I used to see

Can Death - yes Death he is thine ^ ow[n]
The grave shall close those limbs ^ around
And hush, forever hush the tone
I loved above all earthly sound

[the first two paragraphs on this page are crossed out]

[page] 4 7

Well pass away with the other flower[s]
Too dark for them too dark for thee
Are the hours to come - the joyless ^ hours
That time is treasuring up for me

If thou hast sinned in this world ^ of care
‘Twas but the dust of thy drear a-^bode
Thy soul was pure when it enter’d ^ here
And pure it will go again to God.
=========

11 Song to A. A. May 1838


This shall be thy lullaby
Rocking on the stormy sea.
Though it roar in thunder wild
Sleep stilly sleep my dark-haired child

When our shuddering boat was crossing
Ederns lake so rudely tossing
Then twas first my nursling smiled

[the final two paragraphs on this page are crossed out]

[page] 8

Sleep softly sleep my fair-browed child

Waves above thy cradle break
Foamy tears are on thy cheek
Yet the Oceans self grows mild
When it bears my slumbering child
=========

To a Bluebell May 7th 1837
by A. G. A.

Sacred watcher wave thy bells
Fair hill flower and woodland child
Dear to me in deep green dells
Dearest on the mountains wild

Blue-bell even as all divine
I have seen my darling shine
Bluebell even as fair far and frail
I have seen my darling fail
Lift thy head and speak to me
Soothing thoughts are breathed by the[e]


[The first two paragraphs on this page are crossed out]

[page] 5 9

Thus they wisper Summer’s sun
Lights my course commenced and done ^ light me till my life is done
Would I rather choose to die
Under Winters cruel ^ stormy sky

Glad I bloom and calm I fade
Dews of heaven are round me sta[id]
Mourner Mourner dry thy tears
Sorrow comes with lengthened years

=========


Lines December 1837

11

I die but when the grave shall press
The heart so long endeared to thee
When earthly cares no more distress
And earthly joys are nought to me

Weep not but think that I have ^ pas[sed]
Before thee o’er a sea of gloom
Have anchored safe and rest at last


[page] 5 10

Where tears and mourning cannot ^ com[e]

‘Tis I should weep to leave thee h[ere]
On that dark Ocean sailing drear
With storms behind ^ around and fears b[efore]
And no kind light to point the ^ Sho[re]

But long or short though life may ^ b[e]
‘Tis nothing to eternity
We part below to meet on high
Where blissful ages never die.

=========

Song October 15th 1839

O between distress and pleasure
Fond affection cannot be
Whreched hearts in vain would ^ treasure
Freindships joys which ^ when others flee.

Well I know thine eye would ^ never

[page] 6 11

Smile while mine greived willingly
Yet I know thine eye forever
Could not weep in symphatty

Let us part the time is over
When I thought and felt like thee
I will be an Ocean rover
I will sail the desert sea

Isles there are beyond its billow
Lands where woe may wander ^ free
And beloved thy midnight pillow
Will be soft unwatched by thee ^ me

Not on each returning morrow
When thy heart bounds ardently
Needst thou then dissemble
Marking my dispondancy

[page] 12

Day by day some dreary token
Will forsake thy memory
Till at last all old links broken
I shall be a dream to thee.
=========
November 5th 183_

[the following paragraphs are crossed out]

O Dream where art thou now?
Long years have past away
Since last from off thy angel brow
I saw the light decay

Alas alas for me
Thou wert so bright and fair
I could not think thy memory
would yeild me nought be ca[re]

The sunbeam and the storm
The summer-eve devine
The silent night of solemn calm
The full moons cloudless shine.

[page] 7 13

H July 26th 1837

Shed no tears o’er that tomb
For there are Angels weeping
Mourn not him whose doom
Heaven itself is mourning
Look how in sable gloom
The clouds are earthward sweeping
And earth recives them home
Even darker clouds returning

Is it when good men die
That sorrow wakes above?
Grieve saints when other spirits fly
To swell their choir of love?

Ah no with louder sound
The golden harp-strings quiver
When good men gain the happy ^ gro[u]nd
Where they must dwell forever

[page] 14

But he who slumbers there
His bark shall ^ will strive no more
Accross the waters of dispair
To reach that glorious shore

The time of grace is past
And mercy scorned and tried
Forsakes to utter wrath at last
The soul so steeled by pride

That wrath will never spare
Will never pity know
Will mock its victims maddened prayer
Will triumph in his woe

Shut from his Maker’s smile
The accursed man shall be
Compassion ^ For mercy reigns a little while
Revenge ^ But Hate eternally

=========


[page] 8 15

11 & A A

Sleep not dream not this bright day
Will not cannot last for aye
Bliss like thine is bought by years
Dark with torment and with tears

Sweeter far than placid pleasure
Purer higher beyond measure
Yet alas the sooner turning
Into hopless endless mourning

I love thee boy for all devine
All full of God thy features shine
Darling enthusiast holy child
Too good for this worlds warring ^ wild
Too heavenly now but doomed to be
Hell-like in heart and misery

And what shall change that angel ^ brow
And quench that spirits glorious ^ glo[w]

[page] 16

Relentless laws that disallow
True virtue and true joy below

And blame me not if when the ^ dr[ead]
Of suffering clouds thy youthful head
If when by sin ^ crime and sorrow tos[t]
Thy wandering bark is wrecked and ^ lo[st]

I too depart I too decline
And make thy path no longer ^ mine
‘Tis thus that human minds will ^ turn
All doomed alike to sin and ^ mour[n]
Yet all with long gaze fixed ^ afar
Adoring virtues distant star

=========

Lines by R. G. April 17th 1839
From our evening fireside now
Merry bough and cheerful tone
Smiling eye and cloudless brow


[this page is crossed out]

[page] 9 17


Though I called with wistle shrill
Jay and larks lagged behind
looking backward o’er the hill

Sorrow was not vocal there
Mute their woe and my dispair
But the joy of life was flown
He was dea[d] gone and we were lone

So it is by morn and eve
So it is in feild and hall ^ hall
For the absent one we greive
One been absent saddens all

=========

Lines by Claudia May 28th 1839

I did not sleep ‘twas noon of day
I saw the burning sunshine fall
The long grass bending where I lay
The blue sky brooding over all


[page] 18

I heard the mellow hum of bees
And singing birds and sighing ^ trees
And far away in woody dell
the music of the sabbath bell

I did not dream remembrance ^ still
Clasped round my heart its fetter ^ chill
But I am sure the soul is free
To leave its clay a little while
Or how in exile misery
Could I have seen my country ^ smile

In English feilds my limbs were ^ laid
With English turf beneath my ^ head
My spirit wandered o’er that shor[e]
Where nought but it may wander ^ more

Yet if the soul can thus return
I need not and I will not ^ mourn

[page] 10 19

And vainly did ye drive me far
With leagues of ocean streched betwee[n]
My mortal flesh you might debar
But not the eternal fire within

My Monarch died to rule forever
A heart that can forget him ^ never
And dear to me aye double dear
Thought shut within the silent ^ tomb
His name shall be for whom ^ it bear
This longsustained and hopless ^ doom

And brighter in the hour of woe
Than in the blaze of victory’s ^ pride
That glory shedding star shall ^ glow
For which we fought and bld
bled and died

=========


[page] 20

Lines October 1837


Far away is the land of rest
Thousand miles are strecched between
Many a mountains stormy crest
Many a desert void of green

Wasted worn is the traveller
Dark his heart and dim his ^ eye
Without hope or comforter
faultering faint and ready to die

Often he looks to the ruthless sky
Often he looks o’er his dreary road
Often he wishes down to lie
And render up lifes tiresome ^ load

But yet faint not mournful xx ^ man
Leagues on leagues are left behind
Since your endless course began

[page] 11 27

then go on to toil resigned

If you still dispair control
Hush its wispers in your head
You shall reach the final goal
You shall win the land of rest

=========


Lines April 28th 1839


The soft unclouded blue of air
The earth as golden-green and fair
And bright as Edens used to be
That air and earth have rested ^ me

Laid on the grass I lapsed away
Sank back again to childhoods day
All harsh thoughts perished memory ^ mild
Subdued both greif and passion ^ wild

but did the sunshine even now

[page] 22

That bathed his stern and swarthy ^ brow
Oh did it wake I long to know
One wisper one sweet dream in hi[m]
One lingering joy that years ago
Had faded - lost in distance di[m]
That iron man was born like ^ me
And he was once an ardent boy
he must have felt in infancy
The glory of a summer sky

Though storms untold his mind ^ have tossed
He cannot utterly have lost
So lost that ^ remembrance of his early home
So lost that not a gleam may ^ come

No vision of his mother’s face
When she so sweetly ^ fondly would set ^ free
Her darling child from her embrace
To roam till eve at liberty
[page] 12 23

Nor of his haunts nor of the flowers
His tiney hand would grateful bear
Returning from the darkening bowers
To weave into her glossy hair.

I saw the light breeze kiss his cheek
His fingers mid the roses twined
I whached to mark one transient ^ streak
Of pensive softness shade his mind

The open window showed around
A glowing park and glorious sky
And thick woods swelling with the ^ sound
Of Natures mingled harmony

Silent he sat. That stormy breast
At length I said has deigned to rest
At length above that spirit flows
The waveless oceans of repose
[page] 24

Let me draw near ‘twill soothe to ^ view
His dark eyes dimed with holy d[ew]
Remorse even now may wake with ^ in
And half-unchain his soul from ^ sin

Perhaps this is the destined hour
When Hell should lose its fatal ^ power
And heaven itself shall bend abo[ve]
To hail the soul redeemed by love

Unmarked I gazed my idle thought
Passed with the ray whose shine ^ it caugh[t]
One glance revealed how little care
He felt for all the beauty there

Oh crime can make the heart ^ grow ol[d]
Sooner than years of wearing ^ wo[e]
Can turn the warmest bosom cold
As winter wind or polar snow
=========


Full title:
Poetical Notebook used for fair copies
Created:
1839, probably Haworth, Yorkshire
Format:
Manuscript / Notebook / Fair copy
Creator:
Emily Brontë
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
Ashley MS 175

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