Sunday Poetry – Emily Brontë

I’ve been reading the November 2012 edition of Brontë Studies which is a special edition with the papers from a conference held in 2011 on the Brontës & the influence of the Bible on their work. So far the most interesting paper has been by Patsy Stoneman on Charlotte’s use of biblical cadences & sentence structure in Jane Eyre. The translators of the Bible often used phrases connected by punctuation rather than a word such as “and”. Compare this from the King James Bible, “the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” to “My pulse stopped: my heart stood still; my stretched arm was paralyzed.” from the scene in Jane Eyre when Bertha cries out in the middle of the night. This way of constructing sentences is called asyndetic & Charlotte uses it much more than other Victorian authors. I feel as though I need to reread Jane Eyre especially to look out for this & the other examples that Stoneman describes, especially Charlotte’s habit of inverting words for emphasis. For example on the very first page, “dreadful to me was the coming home” instead of the more usual, “To me it was dreadful to be coming home“. This led me on to wanting to read something by one of the sisters so I’ve chosen Emily’s poem, Sympathy, this week as I’ve always loved Emily’s poetry.

There should be no despair for you
While nightly stars are burning;
While evening pours its silent dew,
And sunshine gilds the morning.
There should be no despair—though tears
May flow down like a river:
Are not the best beloved of years
Around your heart for ever?

They weep, you weep, it must be so;
Winds sigh as you are sighing,
And winter sheds its grief in snow
Where Autumn’s leaves are lying:
Yet, these revive, and from their fate
Your fate cannot be parted:
Then, journey on, if not elate,
never broken-hearted!

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