Emily Jane Brontë ~ The Isolated Artist (July 30, 1818-December 19, 1848)

Emily Brontë by Patrick Branwell Brontë © National Portrait Gallery, London 

The Night Wind by Emily Brontë (1818-1848)
In summer's mellow midnight,
A cloudless moon shone through
Our open parlour window,
And rose-trees wet with dew.

I sat in silent musing;
The soft wind waved my hair;
It told me heaven was glorious,
And sleeping earth was fair.

I needed not its breathing
To bring such thoughts to me;
But still it whispered lowly,
How dark the woods will be!

"The thick leaves in my murmur
Are rustling like a dream,
And all their myriad voices
Instinct with spirit seem."

I said, "Go, gentle singer,
Thy wooing voice is kind:
But do not think its music
Has power to reach my mind.

"Play with the scented flower,
The young tree's supple bough,
And leave my human feelings
In their own course to flow."

The wanderer would not heed me;
Its kiss grew warmer still.
"O come!" it sighed so sweetly;
"I'll win thee 'gainst thy will.

"Were we not friends from childhood?
Have I not loved thee long?
As long as thou, the solemn night,
Whose silence wakes my song.

"And when thy heart is resting
Beneath the church-aisle stone,
I shall have time for mourning,
And THOU for being alone."

In these stanzas a louder gale has roused the sleeper on her
pillow: the wakened soul struggles to blend with the storm by
which it is swayed:--

Ay--there it is! it wakes to-night
Deep feelings I thought dead;
Strong in the blast--quick gathering light--
The heart's flame kindles red.

"Now I can tell by thine altered cheek,
And by thine eyes' full gaze,
And by the words thou scarce dost speak,
How wildly fancy plays.

"Yes--I could swear that glorious wind
Has swept the world aside,
Has dashed its memory from thy mind
Like foam-bells from the tide:

"And thou art now a spirit pouring
Thy presence into all:
The thunder of the tempest's roaring,
The whisper of its fall:

"An universal influence,
From thine own influence free;
A principle of life--intense--
Lost to mortality.

"Thus truly, when that breast is cold,
Thy prisoned soul shall rise;
The dungeon mingle with the mould--
The captive with the skies.
Nature's deep being, thine shall hold,
Her spirit all thy spirit fold,
Her breath absorb thy sighs.
Mortal! though soon life's tale is told;
Who once lives, never dies!"

 Emily Brontë (sister portrait) painted by Patrick Branwell Brontë

Her position before was sheltered from the light: now, I had a distinct view of her whole figure and countenance. She was slender, and apparently scarcely past girlhood: an admirable form, and the most exquisite little face that I have ever had the pleasure of beholding: small features, very fair; flaxen ringlets, or rather golden, hanging loose on her delicate neck; and eyes-had they been agreeable in expression, they would have been irresistible-fortunately for my susceptible heart, the only sentiment they evinced hovered between scorn and a kind of desperation, singularly unnatural to be detected there.  (Wuthering Heights, Chapter 2)

Emily's diary paper, bearing the date of her twenty-seventh birthday, Thursday, July 30, 1845.
Her sketch at the bottom shows her writing in her tiny bedroom, previously the room the Brontë children called their "study." Her dog Keeper lies at her feet, while Anne's dog Flossy and a cat occupy the bed. 

I came across two of 'Emily's Diary Papers' as they were called, one from July 30, 1841 and another from July 30, 1845. Remarkable that her very own words, feelings, and descriptions survive pertaining to two of her birthday's. I still can't believe I am reading her own thoughts on the subject.  How amazing for us and generations to come that they survive. 

Emily J. Brontë's Diary Paper, July 30, 1841

It is Friday evening–near 9 o'clock–wild rainy weather I am seated in the dining room 'alone'–having just concluded tidying our desk-boxes–writing this document–Papa is in the parlour. Aunt up stairs in her room–she has been reading Blackwood's Magazine to papa–Victoria and Adelaide are ensconced in the peat-house–Keeper is in the kitchen–Hero in his cage–We are all stout and hearty as I hope is the case with Charlotte, Branwell, and Anne, of whom the first is at John White Esq., Upperwood. House, Rawden; the second is at Luddenden foot and the third is I believe at Scarborough - editing perhaps a paper corresponding to this– A scheme is at present in agitation for setting us up in a school of our own as yet nothing is determined but I hope and trust it may go on and prosper and answer our highest expectations. This day 4 years I wonder whether we shall still be dragging on in our present condition or established to our heart's content Time will show–
          I guess that at the time appointed for the opening of this paper–we (i.e.) Charlotte, Anne and I–‘shall' be all merrily seated in our own sitting-room in some pleasant and flourishing seminary having just gathered in for the midsummer holydays our debts will be paid off and we shall have cash in hand to a considerable amount. papa Aunt and Branwell will either have been–or be coming–to visit us–it will be a fine warm summery evening. very different from this bleak look-out Anne and I will perchance slip out into the garden a minutes to peruse our papers. I hope either this or something better will be the case–

The Gondalians are at present in a threatening state but there is no open rupture as yet–all the princes and princesses of the royal royaltys are at the palace of Instruction–I have a good many books on hands but I am sorry to say that as usual I make small progress with any–however I have just made a new regularity paper! and I mean verb sap–to do great things–and now I close sending from far an exhortation of course courage! to exiled and harassed Anne wishing she was here

Emily Brontë's Diary Paper, Thursday, July 30, 1845

My birthday–showery–breezy–cool–I am twenty seven years old today–this morning Anne and I opened the papers we wrote 4 years since on my twenty third birthday–this paper we intend, if all be well, to open on my 30th three years hence in 1848–since the 1841 paper, the following events have taken place

          Our school-scheme has been abandoned and instead Charlotte and I went to Brussels on the 8th of February 1842 Branwell left his place at Luddenden Foot C and I returned from Brussels November 8th 1842 in consequence of Aunt's death–Branwell went to Thorp Green as a tutor where Anne still continued–January 1843 Charlotte returned to Brussels the same month and after staying a year came back again on new years day 1844 Anne left her situation at Thorp Green of her own accord–June 1845 Branwell left–July 1845 

Anne and I went our first long journey by ourselves together–leaving Home on the 30th of June-monday sleeping at York–returning to Keighley Tuesday evening sleeping there and walking home on Wednesday morning–though the weather was broken, we enjoyed ourselves very much except during a few hours at Bradford and during our excursion we were Ronald Macelgin, Henry Angora, Juliet Augusteena, Rosobelle Esualdar, Ella and Julian Egramont Catherine Navarre and Cordelia Fitzaphnold escaping from the palaces of Instruction to join the Royalists who are hard driven at present by the victorious Republicans–The Gondals still flourish bright as ever I am at present writing a work on the First Wars–Anne has been writing some articles on this and a book by Henry Sophona–We intend sticking firm by the rascals as long as they delight us which I am glad to say they do at present–I should have mentioned that last summer the school scheme was revived in full vigor–We had prospectuses printed, despatched letters to all aquaintances imparting our plans and did our little all–but it was found no go–now I dont desire a school at all and none of us have any great longing for it. We have cash enough for our present wants with a prospect of accumulation–we are all in decent health–only that papa has a complaint in his eyes and with the exception of B who I hope will be better and do better, hereafter. I am quite contented for myself–not as idle as formerly, altogether as hearty and having learnt to make the most of the present and hope for the future with less fidgetiness that I cannot do all I wish–seldom or ever troubled with nothing to do, and merely desiring that every body could be as comfortable as myself and as undesponding and then we should have a very tolerable world of it

          By mistake I find we have opened the paper on the 31st instead of the 30th Yesterday was much such a day as this but the morning was divine–

          Tabby who was gone in our last paper is come back and has lived with us–two years and a half and is in good health–Martha who also departed is here too. We have got Flossey, got and lost Tiger–lost the Hawk. Hero which with the geese was given away and is doubtless dead for when I came back from Brussels I enquired on all hands and could hear nothing of him–Tiger died early last year–Keeper and Flossey are well also the canary acquired 4 years since

          We are now all at home and likely to be there some time–Branwell went to Liverpool on 'Tuesday' to stay a week. Tabby has just been teasing me to turn as formerly to-'pilloputate'. Anne and I should have picked the black currants if it had been fine and sunshiny. I must hurry off now to my taming and ironing I have plenty of work on hands and writing and am altogether full of business with best wishes for the whole House till 1848 July 3oth and as much longer as may be I conclude

E J Brontë

To read more of Emily Bronte's papers, CUNY Edu Brooklyn Academy



Pamela Britley said…
I love this so much. The poem is beautiful and to read Emily Bronte's letters is incredible! Thanks for sharing :)