Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thy mind is ever moving in regions dark to thee - Emily Brontë the nature-worshiping heathen

Shall earth no more inspire thee,
Thou lonely dreamer now?
Since passion may not fire thee
Shall nature cease to bow?

Usually I assume that the speaker of a poem is the poet. It's a fiction, I know, a pose. Here, though, someone else is addressing a poet-like figure ("thou lonely dreamer"). Earth and passion and nature seem to be connected.

Thy mind is ever moving,
In regions dark to thee;
Recall its useless roving -
Come back, and dwell with me -

Now the poet really sounds like Emily Brontë, Official Poet Laureate of the Goths.* A mind moving "in regions dark," that's her. The speaker, whoever it is, is not so sympathetic with the whole black clothes and emo thing. "Useless," that's pretty strong.

I know my mountain breezes
Enchant and soothe thee still -
I know my sunshine pleases,
Despite thy wayward will -

So the speaker is actually earth, or nature, or the earth spirit.

When day with evening blending
Sinks from the summer sky,
I've seen thy spirit bending
In fond idolatry -

Nature has observed the poet, at twilight, secretly worshiping nature. "Fond" can mean "mad" - is that what it means here? Note the assonance - all of the "n" sounds, and the second "s" line. I'll shut up for a moment and let the nature spirit finish up.

I've watched thee every hour -
I know my mighty sway -
I know my magic power
To drive thy griefs away -

Few hearts to mortals given
On earth so wildly pine
Yet few would ask a heaven
More like this earth than thine -

Then let my winds caress thee -
Thy comrade let me be -
Since nought beside can bless thee,
Return and dwell with me -

In her dream of Heaven, Catherine Earnshaw "broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights, where I woke sobbing for joy." (WH, Ch. 9). Maybe nature is not speaking to a Brontë-like poet, but to a Catherine-like wild spirit. Either way, she's a nature-worshiping heathen who has somehow strayed from the natural world into the darkness of the imagination, although she maintains her pantheistic faith in her own way, and will eventually return to the earth, perhaps in death.

Or something. These poems, some of them, are so strange. This one is unusually pure. It does not seem to have any Gondal mixed into it. Tomorrow, I guess, Gondal.

* Not mockery. The Goths chose correctly. One thing Emily Brontë is, one among many, is the original Goth girl.


  1. I thought Emily Dickinson was the poet of the Goths. Visigoths, maybe.

  2. Um, Emily Dickinson is the, um, the other Poet of the Goths. They're co-queens.

    See, for example, How to Be a Romantic Goth. No mention of Dickinson.

    On the other hand, How to Be a Classy Goth has Dickinson but no Brontë. I don't trust this one - Chaucer? "Morliere"?

    Still, I see now. It's Emily Brontë for the Romantic Goths, and Emily Dickinson for the Classy Goths. Okey dokey.

    Also, if you don't already know about this, do not miss Twilight's teen vampires boost French sales of Wuthering Heights.