The Best Poems of the Bronte Sisters by Emily, Anne and Charlotte Bronte

There is a series of anniversaries coming up from 2016 for the Bronte sisters. 2016 is the 200th anniversary of Charlotte's birth, followed by Emily (2018) and Anne (2020).

Dover Publications have reissued an edition of 47 of their poems which was originally published in 1997. Many of these appeared in the 1846 edition of Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell which was published in London by Aylott and Jones. This new edition has arranged the poems by poet to reflect the sequence of the 1846 edition. 

I like to dip into a collection of poems. I couldn't help but compare the sisters' poems as I did so. Emily's voice seems to ring out the strongest to me, full of fervour, emotion and imagination. She  evokes the landscape beautifully. Although these were the only poems printed in her lifetime, she wrote nearly 200 poems. Emily and Anne created an imaginary world of the island of Gondal and although their plays and stories have not been survived, some of Emily's poems in this edition relate to Gondal. The landscape is reminiscent of that found in Sir Walter Scott's writings, full of mountains and heather. Some of the themes of imprisonment and death are found in these poems and seem to be an echo of  her later masterpiece, Wuthering Heights.

Anne and Charlotte's voices are less fervent but are full of longing and loneliness. Charlotte's poems written after the deaths of Emily and Anne are affecting. It is not hard to imagine her grief. Similarly, Anne's poem, 'Last Lines' was written a few weeks after Emily's death. Their words evoke the solitary lives they led as the siblings died. Knowing that Charlotte worked as a Governess and put that experience into her novels, I found 'The Teacher's Monologue' interesting written from the perspective of someone living away from their home and longing to be there.

Highlights: Charlotte- 'Parting' stanza 6

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.

Highlights: Emily- 'No Coward Soul is Mine' stanza 1

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. 

Highlights: Anne- 'Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day' stanza 1

My soul is awakened, my spirit is soaring
And carried aloft on the wings of the breeze;
For above and around me the wild wind is roaring, 
Arousing to rapture the earth and the seas.

 In short:a collection of poems which stand alone and speak for themselves. 

I decided to read the poetry of the Brontes as part of the Classics Club Challenge. My full list of books can be found here. 

Thanks to Dover Publications who sent me a copy of the book via NetGalley for an honest review.


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