Emily Bronte: The Bluebell
Posted on 19th January 2021
Emily Bronte from the village of Haworth on the edge of the Pennines in West Yorkshire, a bleak and remote place during her lifetime, of intemperate climate and changeable weather that determined the nature and character of its people is lauded now as the author of Wuthering Heights, her only novel.
She was also the sister of fellow novelists Charlotte and Anne, and the least known, the most mysterious. Following her tragically early death aged just 30, Charlotte wrote of her:
“My sister's disposition was not naturally gregarious; circumstances favoured and fostered her tendency to seclusion; except to go to church or take a walk on the hills, she rarely crossed the threshold of home. Though her feeling for the people round was benevolent, intercourse with them she never sought; nor, with very few exceptions, ever experienced. And yet she knew them: knew their ways, their language, their family histories; she could hear of them with interest, and talk of them with detail, minute, graphic, and accurate; but with them, she rarely exchanged a word.”
So, to try and understand Emily we look to her writing and here we have more than just Wuthering Heights for during her short life she also wrote 73 poems which she kept in two neatly written notebooks.
The Bluebell was composed in the week before Christmas 1838, when she was aged just 20.
The Bluebell is the sweetest flower
That waves in summer air:
Its blossoms have the mightiest power
To soothe my spirit's care.
There is a spell in purple heath
Too wildly, sadly dear;
The violet has a fragrant breath,
But fragrance will not cheer,
The trees are bare, the sun is cold,
And seldom, seldom seen;
The heavens have lost their zone of gold,
And earth her robe of green.
And ice upon the glancing stream
Has cast its sombre shade;
And distant hills and valleys seem
In frozen mist arrayed.
The Bluebell cannot charm me now,
The heath has lost its bloom;
The violets in the glen below,
They yield no sweet perfume.
But, though I mourn the sweet Bluebell,
'Tis better far away;
I know how fast my tears would swell
To see it smile to-day.
For, oh! when chill the sunbeams fall
Adown that dreary sky,
And gild yon dank and darkened wall
With transient brilliancy;
How do I weep, how do I pine
For the time of flowers to come,
And turn me from that fading shine,
To mourn the fields of home!
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