A Celebration of Women Writers

"Honour's Martyr." by Emily Jane Brontë (1818-1848)

First Publication: Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell London: Aylott and Jones, 8, Paternoster Row, 1846. pp. 140-143.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


THE moon is full this winter night;
  The stars are clear, though few;
And every window glistens bright,
  With leaves of frozen dew.

[Page 141]

The sweet moon through your lattice gleams
  And lights your room like day;
And there you pass, in happy dreams,
  The peaceful hours away !

While I, with effort hardly quelling
  The anguish in my breast,
Wander about the silent dwelling,
  And cannot think of rest.

The old clock in the gloomy hall
  Ticks on, from hour to hour;
And every time its measured call
  Seems lingering slow and slower:

And oh, how slow that keen-eyed star
  Has tracked the chilly grey !
What, watching yet ! how very far
  The morning lies away !

Without your chamber door I stand;
  Love, are you slumbering still ?
My cold heart, underneath my hand,
  Has almost ceased to thrill.

Bleak, bleak the east wind sobs and sighs,
  And drowns the turret bell,
Whose sad note, undistinguished, dies
  Unheard, like my farewell !

[Page 142]

To-morrow, Scorn will blight my name,
  And Hate will trample me,
Will load me with a coward's shame
  A traitor's perjury.

False friends will launch their covert sneers;
  True friends will wish me dead;
And I shall cause the bitterest tears
  That you have ever shed.

The dark deeds of my outlawed race
  Will then like virtues shine;
And men will pardon their disgrace,
  Beside the guilt of mine.

For, who forgives the accursed crime
  Of dastard treachery ?
Rebellion, in its chosen time,
  May Freedom's champion be;

Revenge may stain a righteous sword,
  It may be just to slay;
But, traitor, traitor,from that word
  All true breasts shrink away !

Oh, I would give my heart to death,
  To keep my honour fair;
Yet, I'll not give my inward faith
  My honour's name to spare !

[Page 143]

Not even to keep your priceless love,
  Dare I, Beloved, deceive;
This treason should the future prove,
  Then, only then, believe !

I know the path I ought to go;
  I follow fearlessly,
Inquiring not what deeper woe
  Stern duty stores for me.

So foes pursue, and cold allies
  Mistrust me, every one:
Let me be false in others' eyes,
  If faithful in my own.



Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom