"Untitled." by Anne Brontë (1820-1849)
First Publication: Brontë Poems A.C. Benson, Ed. London: Smith, Elder, 1915.
This Edition: The Poems of Anne Brontë E. Chitham, Ed. London and Basingstoke: The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1979.
Severed and gone, so many years!
And art thou still so dear to me,
That throbbing heart and burning tears
Can witness how I cling to thee?
I know that in the narrow tomb
The form I loved was buried deep,
And left, in silence and in gloom,
To slumber out its dreamless sleep.
I know the corner where it lies,
Is but a dreary place of rest:
The charnel moisture never dries
From the dark flagstones o'er its breast,
For there the sunbeams never shine,
Nor ever breathes the freshening air,
–But not for this do I repine;
For my beloved is not there.
O, no! I do not think of thee
As festering there in slow decay:–
'Tis this sole thought oppresses me,
That thou art gone so far away.
For ever gone; for I, by night,
Have prayed, within my silent room,
That Heaven would grant a burst of light
Its cheerless darkness to illume;
And give thee to my longing eyes,
A moment, as thou shinest now,
Fresh from thy mansion in the skies,
With all its glories on thy brow.
Wild was the wish, intense the gaze
I fixed upon the murky air,
Expecting, half, a kindling blaze
Would strike my raptured vision there,–
A shape these human nerves would thrill,
A majesty that might appal,
Did not thy earthly likeness, still,
Gleam softly, gladly, through it all.
False hope! vain prayer! it might not be
That thou shouldst visit earth again.
I called on Heaven–I called on thee,
And watched, and waited–all in vain.
Had I one shining tress of thine,
How it would bless these longing eyes!
Or if thy pictured form were mine,
What gold should rob me of the prize?
A few cold words on yonder stone,
A corpse as cold as they can be–
Vain words, and mouldering dust, alone–
Can this be all that's left of thee?
O, no! thy spirit lingers still
Where'er thy sunny smile was seen:
There's less of darkness, less of chill
On earth, than if thou hadst not been.
Thou breathest in my bosom yet,
And dwellest in my beating heart;
And, while I cannot quite forget,
Thou, darling, canst not quite depart.
Though, freed from sin, and grief, and pain
Thou drinkest now the bliss of Heaven,
Thou didst not visit earth in vain;
And from us, yet, thou art not riven.
Life seems more sweet that thou didst live,
And men more true that thou wert one:
Nothing is lost that thou didst give,
Nothing destroyed that thou hast done.
Earth hath received thine earthly part;
Thine heavenly flame has heavenward flown;
But both still linger in my heart,
Still live, and not in mine alone.
The manuscript of the poem is dated April, 1847. It contains a number of modifications and alternate forms. The A. C. Benson publication omits seven of the stanzas given here from the original manuscript, and modifies punctuation and in a few cases, wording.