A Celebration of Women Writers

"Anticipation." by Emily Jane Brontë (1818-1848)

First Publication: Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell London: Aylott and Jones, 8, Paternoster Row, 1846. pp. 56-58.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


HOW beautiful the earth is still,
To theehow full of happiness !
How little fraught with real ill,
Or unreal phantoms of distress !
How spring can bring thee glory, yet,
And summer win thee to forget

[Page 57]

December's sullen time !
Why dost thou hold the treasure fast,
Of youth's delight, when youth is past,
  And thou art near thy prime ?

When those who were thy own compeers,
Equals in fortune and in years,
Have seen their morning melt in tears,
  To clouded, smileless day;
Blest, had they died untried and young,
Before their hearts went wandering wrong,
Poor slaves, subdued by passions strong,
  A weak and helpless prey !

" Because, I hoped while they enjoyed,
And, by fulfilment, hope destroyed;
As children hope, with trustful breast,
I waited blissand cherished rest.
A thoughtful spirit taught me, soon,
That we must long till life be done;
That every phase of earthly joy
Must always fade, and always cloy:

This I foresawand would not chase
  The fleeting treacheries;
But, with firm foot and tranquil face,
Held backward from that tempting race,
Gazed o'er the sands the waves efface,
  To the enduring seas

[Page 58]

There cast my anchor of desire
Deep in unknown eternity;
Nor ever let my spirit tire,
With looking for what is to be !

It is hope's spell that glorifies,
Like youth, to my maturer eyes,
All Nature's million mysteries,
  The fearful and the fair
Hope soothes me in the griefs I know;
She lulls my pain for others' woe,
And makes me strong to undergo
  What I am born to bear.

Glad comforter ! will I not brave,
Unawed, the darkness of the grave ?
Nay, smile to hear Death's billows rave
  Sustained, my guide, by thee ?
The more unjust seems present fate,
The more my spirit swells elate,
Strong, in thy strength, to anticipate
  Rewarding destiny !"


[Page 59]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom