Marking 200 years since her birth in West Yorkshire, we turn to one of Charlotte Brontë’s most universally enlightening poems.
Charlotte Brontë is a firm favourite on The Reader blog having appeared more than once among our Featured Poem selections, but we couldn’t let the celebration of her 200th birthday pass this week without another delve into her acclaimed collected works.
We’ve chosen Parting to remember Brontë on this notable anniversary, a poem in which she takes a brighter view on death compared to some of her other works.
Grief seemed to hound the Brontë family, Charlotte buried her mother and two elder sisters within three years of each other in the early 1820s, and her brother and two younger sisters pased away within a year when she was in her early thirties. Partings were a reoccurring theme throughout Charlotte’s short life.
There is however, a sense of resilience in Parting, with Brontë focuses on the personal memories that endure after the death of a loved one, finding comfort in the “resemblance in one’s heart”. The inevitability of death does not dishearten the speaker, rather it inspires her to take courage, “telling the world to do its worst” she is resolute in her cheerful spirit.
Brontë points to an affinity stronger than death, that “none shall dare restrain”, in her solace, suggesting that both parties will strive to bridge the distance imposed by death, uniting them in defiance: “We will think of one another, As even better than we are”.
The courage in Brontë’s poem offers a gutsy and heartening comfort to the grief stricken, giving death’s power over to the bereaved. A compelling thought to dwell on as we celebrate Charlotte Brontë on what would be, the week of her 200th birthday.
There’s no use in weeping,
Though we are condemned to part:
There’s such a thing as keeping
A remembrance in one’s heart:
There’s such a thing as dwelling
On the thought ourselves have nurs’d,
And with scorn and courage telling
The world to do its worst.
We’ll not let its follies grieve us,
We’ll just take them as they come;
And then every day will leave us
A merry laugh for home.
When we’ve left each friend and brother,
When we’re parted wide and far,
We will think of one another,
As even better than we are.
Every glorious sight above us,
Every pleasant sight beneath,
We’ll connect with those that love us,
Whom we truly love till death !
In the evening, when we’re sitting
By the fire perchance alone,
Then shall heart with warm heart meeting,
Give responsive tone for tone.
We can burst the bonds which chain us,
Which cold human hands have wrought,
And where none shall dare restrain us
We can meet again, in thought.
So there’s no use in weeping,
Bear a cheerful spirit still;
Never doubt that Fate is keeping
Future good for present ill !