"Past Days." by Anne Brontë (1820-1849)
First Publication: Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell London: Aylott and Jones, 8, Paternoster Row, 1846. pp. 111-112.
'TIS strange to think, there was a time
When mirth was not an empty name,
When laughter really cheered the heart,
And frequent smiles unbidden came,
And tears of grief would only flow
In sympathy for others' woe;
When speech expressed the inward thought,
And heart to kindred heart was bare,
And Summer days were far too short
For all the pleasures crowded there,
And silence, solitude, and rest,
Now welcome to the weary breast–
When night, the holy time of peace,
Was dreaded as the parting hour;
When speech and mirth at once must cease,
And Silence must resume her power;
Though ever free from pains and woes,
She only brought us calm repose.
And when the blessed dawn again
Brought daylight to the blushing skies,
We woke, and not reluctant then,
To joyless labour did we rise;
But full of hope, and glad and gay,
We welcomed the returning day.
The original manuscript title of this poem is "'Tis Strange to Think". There are minor differences in punctuation and capitalization, and line 21 uses /friendly intercourse/ rather than /speech and mirth/. The friendship referred to was likely that of Anne and Emily. The poem is dated November 21st, 1843.