" Self-Interrogation." by Emily Jane Brontë (1818-1848)
First Publication: Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell London: Aylott and Jones, 8, Paternoster Row, 1846. pp.
" THE evening passes fast away,
'Tis almost time to rest;
What thoughts has left the vanished day,
What feelings, in thy breast ?
" The vanished day ? It leaves a sense
Of labour hardly done;
Of little, gained with vast expense,–
A sense of grief alone !
" Time stands before the door of Death,
And Conscience, with exhaustless breath,
Pours black reproach on me:
" And though I've said that Conscience lies,
And Time should Fate condemn;
Still, sad Repentance clouds my eyes,
And makes me yield to them !
" Then art thou glad to seek repose ?
Art glad to leave the sea,
And anchor all thy weary woes
In calm Eternity ?
[Page 124]" Nothing regrets to see thee go–
" Alas ! The countless links are strong
That bind us to our clay;
The loving spirit lingers long,
And would not pass away !
" And rest is sweet, when laurelled fame
Will crown the soldier's crest;
But, a brave heart, with a tarnished name,
Would rather fight than rest."
" Well, thou hast fought for many a year,
Hast fought thy whole life through,
Hast humbled Falsehood, trampled Fear;
What is there left to do ? "
" 'Tis true, this arm has hotly striven,
Has dared what few would dare;
Much have I done, and freely given,
But little learnt to bear ! "
" Look on the grave, where thou must sleep,
Thy last, and strongest foe;
It is endurance not to weep,
If that repose seem woe.
[Page 125]" The long war closing in defeat,