A Poem by Emily Brontë
How beautiful the earth is still,
To thee–how full of happiness?
How little fraught with real ill,
Or unreal phantoms of distress!
How spring can bring thee glory, yet,
And summer win thee to forget
December’s sullen time!
Why dost thou hold the treasure fast,
Of youth’s delight, when youth is past,
And thou art near thy prime?
When those who were thy own compeers,
Equals in fortune and in years,
Have seen their morning melt in tears,
To clouded, smileless day;
Blest, had they died untried and young,
Before their hearts went wandering wrong,–
Poor slaves, subdued by passions strong,
A weak and helpless prey!
‘Because, I hoped while they enjoyed,
And by fulfilment, hope destroyed;
As children hope, with trustful breast,
I waited bliss–and cherished rest.
A thoughtful spirit taught me soon,
That we must long till life be done;
That every phase of earthly joy
Must always fade, and always cloy:
‘This I foresaw–and would not chase
The fleeting treacheries;
But, with firm foot and tranquil face,
Held backward from that tempting race,
Gazed o’er the sands the waves efface,
To the enduring seas–
There cast my anchor of desire
Deep in unknown eternity;
Nor ever let my spirit tire,
With looking for WHAT IS TO BE!
It is hope’s spell that glorifies,
Like youth, to my maturer eyes,
All Nature’s million mysteries,
The fearful and the fair–
Hope soothes me in the griefs I know;
She lulls my pain for others’ woe,
And makes me strong to undergo
What I am born to bear.
Glad comforter! will I not brave,
Unawed, the darkness of the grave?
Nay, smile to hear Death’s billows rave–
Sustained, my guide, by thee?
The more unjust seems present fate,
The more my spirit swells elate,
Strong, in thy strength, to anticipate
“Anticipation” was published in the 1846 collection Poems By Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell under Emily’s nom de plume ‘Ellis Bell’.