197 years ago this week, Emily Bronte was born in the village of Haworth, Yorkshire. Though best known for her one and only novel – the brooding and wild tale of obsession Wuthering Heights – she also wrote poetry, a selection of which featured alongside others from her sisters Charlotte and Anne and published in 1846 in a small volume simply entitled Poems, under the male pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Out of all of the sisters, Emily is the most mysterious, with not much known about her work or life outside of biographies that were constructed after her death by her sister Charlotte. However, she was thought to have written somewhere near two hundred poems, only a fraction of which featured in Poems.
To mark her anniversary and celebrate Emily in her own right, this week’s Featured Poem is a selection from her. Otherworldly presences are just as apparent here as in her most famous piece of work, but are they haunting – prolonging the sad and gloomy mood – comforting, or something else entirely?
I’ll Come When Thou Art Saddest
I’ll come when thou art saddest,
Laid alone in the darkened room;
When the mad day’s mirth has vanished,
And the smile of joy is banished
From evening’s chilly gloom.
I’ll come when the heart’s real feeling
Has entire unbiased sway,
And my influence o’er thee stealing,
Grief deepening joy congealing,
Shall bear thy soul away.
Listen ’tis just the hour,
The awful time for thee;
Dost thou not feel upon thy soul
A flood of strange sensations roll,
Forerunners of a sterner power,
Heralds of me?