The Stanzas of Emily

The Stanzas of Emily

The Stanzas of Emily Brontë is loved even long after her death. She is one of the most read authors and poets of the nineteenth century. Her poem Stanzas was released after she died. A beautiful reflection of what a poet can struggle with.

Emily Brontë
Emily Brontë as portaied by her brother Branwell.

She wrote, just like her sisters did. In “her time”, it wasn’t common for girls or women to write. Therefore she used a pseudonym, just like her sisters. She used the name Ellis Bell.

Brontë was born as Emily Jane Brontë on 30 July 1818 in Bradford. Later she moved – with the rest of the family –  to Haworth. The Brontë family consisted of mother Maria Branwell, father Patrick Brontë and the six children. When Brontë was three years old, her mother died. Two of her sisters died because of a typhoid epidemy. It resulted in a homeschool education because her two sisters – Maria and Elizabeth – got infected with typhoid at school.

Inspired by a box of toy soldiers belonging to her brother Branwell, she and her sisters (Anne, Charlotte) began to write. As they lived in a time when girls or women weren’t supposed to do the same things as boys or men, they decided to use pseudonyms. They choose names that were rather manly or muscular. Under the names Currer Belle (Charlotte), Ellis Bell (Emily) and Acton Bell (Anne), they published the book Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Only two copies were sold. It didn’t stop their literary aspirations. We now know it resulted in a masterpiece of English literature written by Emily: Wuthering Heights.

Wuthering Heights and her poems inspired many others. But it’s always this scent of mystery that surrounds this Emily Brontë. It has mostly to do with her death at the age of only thirty. She died not long after her brother died due to the unsanitary conditions at home. The water that the family used was probably contaminated. At the funeral of her brother, Emily fell ill. Three months later, she died of tuberculosis. At that time, people were convinced that a broken heart may also be the cause of her death.

Stanzas

This poem is sometimes referred to as Stanza. The first publication was made two years after her death in 1850. It was published, together with sixteen other poems, in the new edition of Wuthering Heights and Anges Grey. The editing was done by her sister Charlotte. There is a chance that the outline of this poem may have been changed by her sister because there is no original manuscript for this poem.

Stanzas

Stanzas

 

Often rebuked, yet always back returning
To those first feelings that were born with me,
And leaving busy chase of wealth and learning
For idle dreams of things which cannot be:

Today, I will seek not the shadowy region;
Its unsustaining vastness waxes drear;
And visions rising, legion after legion,
Bring the unreal world too strangely near.

I’ll walk, but not in old heroic traces,
And not in paths of high morality,
And not among the half-distingusihed faces,
The clouded forms of long-past history.

I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading:
It vexes me to choose another guide:
Where the grey flocks in ferny glens are feeding;
Where the wild wind blows on the mountain side.

What have those lonely mountains worth revealing?
More glory and more grief than I can tell:
The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling
Can centre both the worlds of heaven and hell.

 

Emily Brontë

 

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