"Memory." by Anne Brontë (1820-1849)
First Publication: Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell London: Aylott and Jones, 8, Paternoster Row, 1846. pp. 83-85.
BRIGHTLY the sun of summer shone,
Green fields and waving woods upon,
And soft winds wandered by;
But what were all these charms to me,
When one sweet breath of memory
Came gently wafting by?
I closed my eyes against the day,
And called my willing soul away,
From earth, and air, and sky;
That I might simply fancy there
One little flower–a primrose fair,
Just opening into sight;
As in the days of infancy,
An opening primrose seemed to me
A source of strange delight.
Sweet Memory! ever smile on me;
Nature's chief beauties spring from thee;
Oh, still thy tribute bring!
Still make the golden crocus shine
Among the flowers the most divine,
The glory of the spring.
Still in the wall-flower's fragrance dwell;
And hover round the slight blue bell,
My childhood's darling flower.
For ever hang thy dreamy spell
Round mountain star and heather bell,
And do not pass away
From sparkling frost, or wreathed snow,
And whisper when the wild winds blow,
Or rippling waters play.
Is childhood, then, so all divine?
Or Memory, is the glory thine,
That haloes thus the past?
Not all divine; its pangs of grief,
(Although, perchance, their stay be brief,)
Are bitter while they last.
Nor is the glory all thine own,
For on our earliest joys alone
That holy light is cast.
With such a ray, no spell of thine
Can make our later pleasures shine,
Though long ago they passed.
The manuscript version of this poem is dated May 29th, 1844. There are minor differences in punctuation and spelling and one or two words. Parts of the manuscript show considerably editing. Anne's feeling for flowers appears in other poems as well, and is reflected in the episode of the primrose in Agnes Grey.