"The Philosopher." by Emily Jane Brontë (1818-1848)
First Publication: Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell London: Aylott and Jones, 8, Paternoster Row, 1846. pp. 23-25.
[Page 24]"Oh, for the time when I shall sleep
"So said I, and still say the same;
Still, to my death, will say–
Three gods, within this little frame,
Are warring night and day;
Heaven could not hold them all, and yet
They all are held in me;
And must be mine till I forget
My present entity!
Oh, for the time, when in my breast
Their struggles will be o'er!
Oh, for the day, when I shall rest,
And never suffer more! "
"I saw a spirit, standing, man,
Where thou dost stand–an hour ago,
And round his feet three rivers ran,
Of equal depth, and equal flow–
"A golden stream–and one like blood;
And one like sapphire, seemed to be;
But, where they joined their triple flood
It tumbled in an inky sea.
[Page 25]The spirit sent his dazzling gaze
"And even for that spirit, seer,
I've watched and sought my life-time long;
Sought him in heaven, hell, earth and air–
An endless search, and always wrong!
Had I but seen his glorious eye
Once light the clouds that wilder me,
I ne'er had raised this coward cry
To cease to think and cease to be;
I ne'er had called oblivion blest,
Nor, stretching eager hands to death,
Implored to change for senseless rest
This sentient soul, this living breath–
Oh, let me die–that power and will
Their cruel strife may close;
And conquered good, and conquering ill
Be lost in one repose! "
This published version of this poem differs considerably from the manuscript in its capitalization, punctuation, and layout. The manuscript version, which is untitled, says "written Feb. 3, 1845". The manuscript shows a number of changes in wording, and the last eight lines of the poem appear to have been added to the manuscript in substitution for a verse that is cancelled out:
O for the lid that cannot weep,
The Breast that needs no breath–
The tomb that brings eternal sleep–
For Life's Deliverer, Death!