Emily Brontë: Through Life and Death, A Chainless Soul




I’m happiest when most away

I can bear my soul from its home of clay

On a windy night when the moon is bright

And the eye can wander through worlds of light—


When I am not and none beside—

Nor earth nor sea nor cloudless sky—

But only spirit wandering wide

Through infinite immensity.


Scene 1:

Excerpt from PLEAD FOR ME

(1844 - age 26)


Why I have persevered to shun

The common paths that others run;

And on a strange road journeyed on

Heedless alike of Wealth and Power—

Of Glory’s wreath and Pleasure’s flower.



(1844 - age 26)

When weary with the long day’s care,

And earthly change from pain to pain,

And lost, and ready to despair,

Thy kind voice calls me back again—

O my true friend, I am not lone

While thou canst speak with such a tone!


So hopeless is the world without,

The world within I doubly prize;

Thy world where guile and hate and doubt

And cold suspicion never rise;

Where thou and I and Liberty

Have undisputed sovereignty.


What matters it that all around

Danger and grief and darkness lie,

If but within our bosom’s bound

We hold a bright unsullied sky,

Warm with ten thousand mingled rays

Of suns that know no winter days?


Reason indeed may oft complain

For Nature’s sad reality,

And tell the suffering heart how vain

Its cherished dreams must always be;

And Truth may rudely trample down

The flowers of Fancy newly blown.


But thou art ever there to bring

The hovering visions back and breathe

New glories o’er the blighted spring

And call a lovelier life from death,

And whisper with a voice divine

Of real worlds as bright as thine.


I trust not to thy phantom bliss,

Yet still in evening’s quiet hour

With never-failing thankfulness

I welcome thee, benignant power,

Sure solacer of human cares

And brighter hope when hope despairs.


Scene 2:

Excerpt from MY COMFORTER

(1844 - age 25)

Deep down—concealed within my soul,

That light lies hid from men,

Yet glows unquenched—though shadows roll,

Its gentle ray can not control—

About the sullen den.



(1845 - age 26)

How beautiful the Earth is still

To thee—how full of Happiness;

How little fraught with real ill

Or shadowy 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,

Equal in fortunes and in years,

Have seen their morning melt in tears,

To dull unlovely day;

Blest, had they died unproved and young

Before their hearts were wildly wrung,

Poor slaves, subdued by passions strong,

A weak and helpless prey!


“Because, I hoped while they enjoyed,

And by fulfillment, 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

Will 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 the 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 mature 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,

My Guide, sustained by thee?

The more unjust seems present fate

The more my Spirit springs elate

Strong in thy strength, to anticipate

Rewarding Destiny!


Scene 3:


(1841 - age 22)

Riches I hold in light esteem

And Love I laugh to scorn

And lust of Fame was but a dream

That vanished with the morn—


And if I pray, the only prayer

That moves my lips for me

Is—“Leave the heart that now I bear

And give me liberty.”


Yes, as my swift days near their goal

‘Tis all that I implore—

Through life and death, a chainless soul

With courage to endure!



(1846 - age 27)

No coward soul is mine

No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere

I see Heaven’s glories shine

And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear


O God within my breast

Almighty ever-present Deity

Life, that in me hast rest

As I Undying Life, have power in Thee


Vain are the thousand creeds

That move men’s hearts, unutterably vain,

Worthless as withered weeds

Or idlest froth amid the boundless main


To waken doubt in one

Holding so fast by thy infinity

So surely anchored on

The steadfast rock of Immortality


With wide-embracing love

Thy spirit animates eternal years

Pervades and broods above,

Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears


Though Earth and moon were gone

And suns and universes ceased to be

And thou wert left alone

Every Existence would exist in thee


There is not room for Death

Nor atom that his might could render void

Since thou art Being and Breath

And what thou art may never be destroyed.



Five Waka poems by Saigyo




sora ni naru 

kokoro wa haru no    

kasumi nite    

yo ni araji tomo  

omoitatsu kana




koko o mata   

ware sumiukute


matsu wa hitori ni

naran to suran




fukaki yama ni  

sumikeru tsuki o


omoide mo naki

waga mi naramashi




hana ni somu

kokoro no ikade


sutehateteki to

omou waga mi ni




Yoshino yama

kozo no shiori no

michi kaete

mada minukata no

hana o tazunen



Translation by Akemi Naito with assistance by Helen Nagata


Awakening in mind,

My heart like a spring


The thought of stepping out of the world

Strikes me.




Here again

When I grow restless and

Must drift away, then

Pine tree

You’ll be left all alone.




Deep within the mountains

Shine brightly the moon.

Never to have seen it

Would be like having no remembrance





Colored by cherry blossoms,

How is it my heart

Is still moved?

Free from the world

I thought I had become…




Mount Yoshino!

Turning from previous paths of marked branches,

I take a new direction

Toward yet unseen blossoms

To pay a visit.


CONNECT with Akemi Naito



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