A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Student's Serenade." by Anne Brontë (1820-1849)

First Publication: Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell London: Aylott and Jones, 8, Paternoster Row, 1846. pp. 143- 145.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

THE STUDENT'S SERENADE.

I HAVE slept upon my couch,
But my spirit did not rest,
For the labours of the day
Yet my weary soul opprest;

[Page 144]

And, before my dreaming eyes
Still the learned volumes lay,
And I could not close their leaves,
And I could not turn away.

But I oped my eyes at last,
And I heard a muffled sound;
'Twas the night-breeze, come to say
That the snow was on the ground.

Then I knew that there was rest
On the mountain's bosom free;
So I left my fevered couch,
And I flew to waken thee!

I have flown to waken thee
For, if thou wilt not arise,
Then my soul can drink no peace
From these holy moonlight skies.

And, this waste of virgin snow
To my sight will not be fair,
Unless thou wilt smiling come,
Love, to wander with me there.

Then, awake! Maria, wake!
For, if thou couldst only know
How the quiet moonlight sleeps
On this wilderness of snow,

[Page 145]

And the groves of ancient trees,
In their snowy garb arrayed,
Till they stretch into the gloom
Of the distant valley's shade;

I know thou wouldst rejoice
To inhale this bracing air;
Thou wouldst break thy sweetest sleep
To behold a scene so fair.

O'er these wintry wilds, alone,
Thou wouldst joy to wander free;
And it will not please the less,
Though that bliss be shared with me.

ACTON.

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

Notes:

This poem is dated February 1844, when Anne was teaching at Thorp Green. Although there are suggestions that the early lines reflect Anne's personal feelings, this piece is largely a Gondal poem. The manuscript is 'signed' "Alexander Hybernia". The original manuscript includes an additional stanza preceeding the third stanza of the published version, as well as minor differences in spelling and punctuation:

  While the grim preceptors laughed
  And exulted in my woe:
  Till I felt my tingling frame
  With the fire of anger glow.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom