Stanzas

Stanzas

Under the pen name Ellis Bell, she wrote a novel and poems in the nineteenth century, including the famous book Wuthering heights. Today we know that Ellis bell was the pen name for one of the Brontë sisters: Emily Brontë. This poem was first published in 1846 and there is still a lot of debate about this poem.

About the poet

Emily Brontë
Emily Brontë portrayed in a painting by her brother. Source: Wikipedia.

Emily Jane Brontë was born on 30 July 1818 and would eventually become one of the greatest English novelists and poets ever lived. She is considered one of the classic authors that everyone must have read.

The Brontë family lived in Bradford and later in Haworth. Her parents, Maria Branwell and Patrick Brontë, had six children. Her mother died when Emily was three years old. This wasn’t the only misfortune for the family. Two of the sisters of the family, Maria and Elizabeth, became ill due to a typhoid epidemic that spread around the school they attended. It was also the same school as Emily attended. Some state that the sisters died of tuberculosis instead of typhoid. From that that on, the sisters Anne, Emily and Charlotte were home schooled with their brother Branwell. It turned out they had a talent for writing. Inspired by a box of toy soldiers from their brother, they began to write.

Since this wasn’t really a time for women to be writing, they took on pen names. Pen names that did not really reveal their gender. Currer Bell was Charlotte, Ellis Bell was Emily and Action Bell was Anne. The first publication in 1846 wasn’t really successful. It was a series of poems published under the title Poems by Currer, Ellis and Action Bell. Even though only two copies were sold, they kept on writing. With good results. For Emily is always connected to her novel Wuthering heights.

Her work would inspire many others to write. If it’s about the many biographies, this is probably the cause of the scent of mystery surrounding her life and her death.

In 1848, at the age of 30, Emily died. It was not long after her brother died of unsanitary conditions at home. The water the family used was probably contaminated. At the funeral of her brother, Emily caught a cold and three months later she died of tuberculosis. Since it was only three months after her brother passed away, some assumed her death might be caused by a broken heart. Little did they know that it was the living conditions that contributed to her death.

Little did Emily know that her book, Wuthering heights, would inspire so many people. Not only to write, but also turn this book into a screenplay. If it wasn’t for her illness, she would have probably written many more novels.

About the poem

This poem was not published in the first publication the sisters made. Stanzas (sometimes referred to as Stanza) was published in 1850, two years after Emily died. Together with sixteen other poems, this one was published in a new edition Wuthering heights and Agnes Grey, that was edited by Charlotte. It is believed that Charlotte may have even touched this poem after Emily wrote this. Maybe the poem is written entirely by Charlotte. The best reason to assume this: there was no original manuscript for this poem.

 

Stanzas

Stanzas

By Emily Brontë

 

Often rebuked, yet always back returning

To those first feelings that were born with me,

And leaving busy chase of wealth and learning

For idle dreams of things which cannot be:

 

Today, I will seek not the shadowy region;

Its unsustaining vastness waxes drear;

And visions rising, legion after legion,

Bring the unreal world too strangely near.

 

I’ll walk, but not in old heroic traces,

And not in paths of high morality,

And not among the half-distingusihed faces,

The clouded forms of long-past history.

 

I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading:

It vexes me to choose another guide:

Where the grey flocks in ferny glens are feeding;

Where the wild wind blows on the mountain side.

 

What have those lonely mountains worth revealing?

More glory and more grief than I can tell:

The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling

Can centre both the worlds of heaven and hell.

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