Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Poetry Spotlight (5): Emily Bronte

In my second year of college I took an Introduction to Poetry class and I fell in love with reading poetry. Before then, poetry was always a little intimidating and a medium that I didn't have much experience with. But after that class, I became addicted to reading poetry, and during the class I actually found myself thinking in and expressing myself in poetry- which I never would have guessed would happen in a million years. So, with this series I'm here to share some of my favorite poems in a way that I'm sure will turn out rambley and unorganized.

Previous Poetry Spotlights:
Howl by Allen Ginsberg
The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot
Two War Poems
Ariel and Other Poems by Sylvia Plath

The poems I am going to talk about today are all from Penguin's Little Black Classic edition, which is a collection of some of Bronte's poems. I had not read any of her poetry so I was excited to see that penguin had this small collection of it. Of course this is just a small sampling of her poetry, but I did quite like what I read. 

If you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe's or Emily Dickinson's poetry, than I think you will enjoy Bronte's poetry. All three poets have a very similar style and word choice, and tackle many similar themes. 

About Emily Bronte:

Emily was the third eldest of the Bronte siblings and is best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights. Her two sisters, Anne and Charlotte, were also writers, and her brother, Bramwell was a painter. All three sisters wrote under pseudonyms, but choose names that preserved their original initials and their family connection. Emily wrote under Ellis Bell, Charlotte under Currer Bell, and Anne under Acton Bell. Emily's poetry was first published in a collection that contained poetry from her two sisters as well. 
(left to right) Anne, Emily and Charlotte
painted by their brother Bramwell who
painted himself out of the picture. He was
originally between Emily and Charlotte.

Not much is known about Emily Bronte's personality beyond her shy and reclusive nature. Her sister Charlotte wrote some biographical information on Emily after her death, but that is pretty much all we have. Bronte died a year after the publication of Wuthering Heights and three months after the death of her brother at the age of thirty. She had been showing signs of consumption for many weeks and refused to be seen by a doctor, therefore, she died in December of 1848. Her name would not appear with her novel until 1850.   
Emily Bronte portrait painted by 
her brother Bramwell 

Poems I Wish to Spotlight: 
This collection of poems highlighted Bronte's poems on death and the passage of time, so many of the poems are very similar thematically. I have picked a few of my favorites from the collection to share my thoughts on and to link you to. All of Bronte's poems have a similar rhythm and rhyme scheme (ABABAB), that is typical of this era in poetry.  
Poem tittles link to the poem itself. 

Remembrance- The speaker in this poem has lost a loved one, and is pondering death's affect on the strength of love. This poem is quite practical and non-dramatic in dealing with the death of a loved one as compared to Bronte's novel, and I was a little surprised (but pleasantly so) by the logical and slightly optimistic tone of the speaker. The speaker realizes that their, "Tears of useless passion" will not bring their loved one back, or help them move on with their own life, so the speaker checks them and refuses to give up their own life by joining their loved one in death. 

Song- This poem examines a pretty common question that Bronte raises in many of the poems in this collection: what happens to the living that are left behind by the dead? This poem also raises another question that is worth equal amounts of thought: What good does it do to mourn the dead when they are not aware of it? 

Honour's MartyrThis poem is one of the longer ones in this collection (though it is still relatively short as it is composed of sixteen quatrains.) This poem caught my attention because I was a little puzzled by the meaning and had to give it a few reads before I could see the full meaning. There is a lot going on in this poem, and it seems to be a little bit different from the other poems in this collection thematically. This poem speaks of following one's own heart even if it will hurt others, and has quite a bit of war imagery and language. 

The Night is Darkening Round Me- For some reason I can't find the version of this poem that is in my book, anywhere online. It just seems to be the first three verses, which is very frustrating. Let me know if you come across the full seven stanza version. The tittle poem in this collection is one of my favorites. This poem (like many others) has such a great Gothic atmosphere. This poem also caught my eye because of its lack of punctuation. The rhyme and rhythm are so smooth and the last line really delivers a punch. This poem puzzles me a little bit too, and each time I read it, the poem takes on a new meaning or an evolved meaning. 

Let me know your thoughts on the Brontes, poetry, or anything related below! 

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