Thursday, April 2, 2015

On the Death of Anne Brontë - Charlotte Brontë

There's little joy in life for me,
     And little terror in the grave;
I've lived the parting hour to see
     Of one I would have died to save.

Calmly to watch the failing breath,
     Wishing each sigh might be the last;
Longing to see the shade of death
     O'er those belovèd features cast.

The cloud, the stillness that must part
     The darling of my life from me;
And then to thank God from my heart,
     To thank Him well and fervently;

Although I knew that we had lost
     The hope and glory of our life;
And now, benighted, tempest-tossed,
     Must bear alone the weary strife.

Think of this poem as a sort of spiritual companion piece to the one I posted a week or so ago, by Anne herself.  Both poems deal with the death of a loved one, and how we, the living, can react.  Here, Charlotte, the last surviving of the Brontë sisters, pours out her grief at losing Anne, and resigns herself to bearing "alone the weary strife" of life.  She isn't afraid of death, because she's seen the "parting hour...of one [she] would have died to save."

At the end of suffering, she thanks God well and fervently despite the difficulty in doing so, because at last, her sister is freed from suffering.  There is no morsel of happiness for Charlotte's future in this poem.  It is pain and grace encapsulated, and beautiful.

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