A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Captive Dove." by Anne Brontë (1820-1849)

First Publication: Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell London: Aylott and Jones, 8, Paternoster Row, 1846. pp. 149-150.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


POOR restless dove, I pity thee;
And when I hear thy plaintive moan,
I mourn for thy captivity,
And in thy woes forget mine own.

To see thee stand prepared to fly,
And flap those useless wings of thine,
And gaze into the distant sky,
Would melt a harder heart than mine.

[Page 150]

In vainin vain! Thou canst not rise:

Thy prison roof confines thee there;
Its slender wires delude thine eyes,
And quench thy longings with despair.

Oh, thou wert made to wander free
In sunny mead and shady grove,
And, far beyond the rolling sea,
In distant climes, at will to rove!

Yet, hadst thou but one gentle mate
Thy little drooping heart to cheer,
And share with thee thy captive state,
Thou couldst be happy even there.

Yes, even there, if, listening by,
One faithful dear companion stood,
While gazing on her full bright eye,
Thou mightst forget thy native wood.

But thou, poor solitary dove,
Must make, unheard, thy joyless moan;
The heart, that Nature formed to love,
Must pine, neglected, and alone.


[Page 151]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


While the MS copy of "The Captive Dove" is dated October 31st, 1843, an accompanying note indicates that it was mostly written in the spring of 1842. There are minor differences in spelling and punctuation, and some indications of editing. The image of a dove is also associated with Anne in her poem "Self-Communion" and with Helen Huntingdon, the heroine of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom