A Celebration of Women Writers

"Presentiment." by Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)

First Publication: Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell London: Aylott and Jones, 8, Paternoster Row, 1846. pp. 100-102.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 100]


" SISTER, you've sat there all the day,
  Come to the hearth awhile;
The wind so wildly sweeps away,
  The clouds so darkly pile.
That open book has lain, unread,
  For hours upon your knee;
You've never smiled nor turned your head
  What can you, sister, see ? "

" Come hither, Jane, look down the field;
  How dense a mist creeps on !
The path, the hedge, are both concealed,
  Ev'n the white gate is gone;
No landscape through the fog I trace,
  No hill with pastures green;
All featureless is nature's face,
  All masked in clouds her mien.

" Scarce is the rustle of a leaf
  Heard in our garden now;
The year grows old, its days wax brief,
  The tresses leave its brow.
The rain drives fast before the wind,
  The sky is blank and grey;
O Jane, what sadness fills the mind
  On such a dreary day ! "

[Page 101]

" You think too much, my sister dear;
  You sit too long alone;
What though November days be drear ?
  Full soon will they be gone.
I've swept the hearth, and placed your chair,
  Come, Emma, sit by me;
Our own fireside is never drear,
Though late and wintry wane the year,
  Though rough the night may be."

" The peaceful glow of our fireside
  Imparts no peace to me:
My thoughts would rather wander wide
  Than rest, dear Jane, with thee.
I'm on a distant journey bound,
  And if, about my heart,
Too closely kindred ties were bound,
  'T would break when forced to part.

" ' Soon will November days be o'er: '
  Well have you spoken, Jane:
My own forebodings tell me more,
For me, I know by presage sure,
  They'll ne'er return again.
Ere long, nor sun nor storm to me
  Will bring or joy or gloom;
They reach not that Eternity
  Which soon will be my home."

[Page 102]

Eight months are gone, the summer sun
  Sets in a glorious sky;
A quiet field, all green and lone,
  Receives its rosy dye.
Jane sits upon a shaded stile,
  Alone she sits there now;
Her head rests on her hand the while,
  And thought o'ercasts her brow.

She's thinking of one winter's day,
  A few short months ago,
When Emma's bier was borne away
  O'er wastes of frozen snow.
She's thinking how that drifted snow
  Dissolved in spring's first gleam,
And how her sister's memory now
  Fades, even as fades a dream.

The snow will whiten earth again,
  But Emma comes no more;
She left, 'mid winter's sleet and rain,
  This world for Heaven's far shore.
On Beulah's hills she wanders now,
  On Eden's tranquil plain;
To her shall Jane hereafter go,
  She ne'er shall come to Jane !


[Page 103]


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom