The Changing Face Of Anne Brontë’s Headstone

Some Brontë memories and anniversaries are happy, some not so happy; unfortunately this week has marked the anniversary of a particularly tragic event in the Anne Brontë story, for Anne Brontë died in Scarborough on 28th May 1849.

Today is the 172nd anniversary of the funeral and interment of Anne, as she was buried on 30th May in the churchyard of St. Mary’s churchyard in Scarborough – above her final resting place looms the castle hill topped by fortified ruins; below it the road runs down to the sands, with the pebbles and shells Anne loved to collect, and the ever ebbing sea.

Anne Bronte pebbles
Anne Bronte’s pebble collection

We have also just passed another sad anniversary, for on the 28th May 1852 Charlotte Brontë returned to Scarborough for the first time since her sister’s death there exactly three years earlier. It was the first time that she’d seen Anne’s headstone, and what she saw appalled her: we’re going to take a look at that in today’s post.

We get our initial information of both the visit and the errors in a letter Charlotte sent from Filey on 6th June 1852 to her great friend Ellen Nussey:

‘Dear Ellen, I am at Filey utterly alone. Do not be angry. The step is right. I considered it and resolved on it with due deliberation. Change of air was necessary; there were reasons why I should not go to the South and why I should come here. On Friday I went to Scarboro’, visited the church-yard and stone – it must be refaced and re-lettered – there are 5 errors. I gave the necessary directions – that duty then is done – long has it lain heavy on my mind – and that was a pilgrimage I felt I could only make alone.’

Anne Brontë's final resting place at Scarborough
Anne Brontë’s headstone underneath Scarborough Castle

One error still remains today; the original headstone is greatly eroded now, but on the ground nearby is a plinth bearing the inscription, placed there by the Brontë Society in 2011: ‘Here lie the remains of Anne Brontë, Daughter of the Revd P Brontë, Incumbent of Haworth, Yorkshire, She died Aged 28 May 28th 1849.’

Anne was, of course, 29 at the time of her death, but Charlotte Brontë was never good at remembering ages or birthdays (including her own). A monument to Anne that was placed in Haworth church, no longer extant, read: ‘This stone is also dedicated to the memory of Anne Brontë, youngest daughter of the Rev. P. Brontë, A.B. She died, aged 27 years, May 28th, 1849, and was buried at the old church, Scarboro’

So we know that the stonemasons recorded Anne’s age incorrectly, but what were the other four errors (or, more probably, five errors as Charlotte didn’t seem to have spotted the age error)? There is no record of them, so we shall never know. Obvious possibilities include the spellings of Anne (perhaps the ‘e’ was ommitted), Brontë and Haworth. With little else remaining on the inscription it seems they must have recorded the date of death incorrectly too. Indeed, with five or six errors out of a total of 24 words, it is probable that every fact recorded on the stone was wrong in some way.

St. Mary's, Scarborough
St. Mary’s, Scarborough. Anne lies in its side churchyard

Returning to Scarborough and seeing Anne’s headstone for the first time in three years must have been incredibly tough for Charlotte, so we can easily imagine her heartache upon seeing a headstone full of errors.

Unfortunately, time and the saline air of Scarborough have taken their toll on Anne’s headstone. Year by year it becomes less legible, and further scraps of its facing break away. Even in the 1870s, however, people were noticing the erosion of the inscription and poor condition of the headstone, as this extract from the ‘Dundee Evening Telegraph’ of 28th August 1878 shows:

As we see from this letter in the Leeds Mercury of 3rd June 1895, the council took steps to improve the headstone – by painting it. It was less than successful:

The inscription on Anne Bronte’s headstone will soon be completely lost to the elements, but her true memorial is her novels and poems, and they will endure forever. Let us look then not with sadness at these tragic anniversaries, but with happiness and gratitude for all Anne left us.

These images show the deterioration between 2014 (left) and 2018 (right). The condition is now considerably worse.

I will see you next Sunday for a special Brontë blog post, as thanks to Sotheby’s I can share with you some of the treasures of their Brontë auction taking place this summer.

William Dearden’s Defence Of The Brontës

I had a long and fulsome post planned for today’s Brontë blog, but unfortunately life throws us curve balls sometimes. A family emergency has thrown my plans, hopefully temporarily, into turmoil, and so today’s post will be shorter than usual – I hope you don’t mind too much and that you still find it interesting; in today’s post we look at a steadfast defence of the Brontës from a man who knew them well: William Dearden.

The account of the Brontë family also appears in my recent book Crave The Rose: Anne Brontë at 200 published by Valley Press. The book features a concise biography of Anne Brontë, along with a never before published in book form essay which I believe is Anne’s final written work, and then a selection of first person accounts of meetings with the Brontës – the section I particularly love, as it lets us see the Brontës as they were in everyday life. Valley Press, based in Anne’s beloved Scarborough, have found times tough during the pandemic, as have many small publishers, so if you head over to their website and make a purchase from them (it doesn’t have to be my book of course) I’m sure they would be grateful.

Crave The Rose by Nick Holland

Before we look at this particular account, let’s look briefly at who William Dearden was. Dearden was a schoolmaster whose long career had seen him take charge at schools in Huddersfield, Bradford, Keighley and Halifax, where he was for 28 years master of the Grammar School. He was also a poet who received some acclaim in his day, with his works ‘The Vale of Caldene’ (1844) and ‘The Star-Seer’ (1837) particularly well received. It has to be said that the style of the latter is a little over-wrought, but his ambition can’t be doubted in this epic fantasy poem spanning well over a hundred pages followed by seventy pages of notes. Here’s a typical extract:

 

‘The MAGIAN waves his hand: the elf retires:
Now, while above him, play the livid fires.
And roars the hollow thunder, from its home
Of adamant, the SEER the Fatal Tome
Lifts high in air; then, with his bloody blade.
Severs the curse-denouncing, golden braid;
And thus, erect, with upturned gaze, he cries.
While from the last leaf’s awful mysteries
He tears the final seal, “Dark fiends! let fall
Your utmost vengeance! I will brave it all!”
Dread sight! from out the north, whose swarthy brow
Begins to show an ashy paleness now.
Descends a flash, which, like an arm of fire,
Launched from the riven clouds, with thunderings dire.
Smites down the SEER, and, in his blasted hand.
Consumes the Book of Fate! As from a land
Of everlasting winter, issue forth
From the oped portal of the gleaming north,
Cloud-charioted, and fast-careering on.
Two shapes, on whom no summer ever shone!
Their visages are thin, and ghastly pale;
Dim are their eyes, as ne’er to close, yet fail
Through infinite watching; and their lips are sealed
Close, as for ages they had not revealed
Aught save a sigh!’

 

 

More pertinently for us, Dearden became a close friend of Branwell Brontë and then of the family as a whole. He was nothing if not loyal to their memory; after the publication of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë he wrote a string of letters to local newspapers attempting to correct some of the errors he saw in it. So regular and strident were these letters that at one point Patrick Brontë himself wrote to Dearden asking him to stop writing them.

William Dearden was undeterred however, as this extract from his letter published in the Bradford Observer on 27th June 1861 shows. Written less than a month after Patrick Brontë’s death, it’s a very interesting account of the Brontë family, if a partial one:

‘It is a duty I owe to the memory of my late venerable friend, and in fulfilment of a sacred promise, to place his character in a true light before the world; and this is the more imperatively necessary, because – though Mrs Gaskell has, in her later editions of Charlotte Brontë’s life, toned down some of its harsher features in obedience to conviction of their distortion and untruthfulness – it still stands prominently forth in repulsive stoical sternness and misanthropical gloom. My acquaintance with Mr Brontë extends over a long series of years. In the early portion of that acquaintanceship, I had frequent opportunities of seeing him surrounded by his young family at the fireside of his solitary abode, in his wanderings on the hills, and in his visits to Keighley friends. On these occasions, he invariably displayed the greatest kindness and affability, and a most anxious desire to promote the happiness and improvement of his children. This testimony, it is presumed, will have some weight, especially with whose who wish to form a correct estimate of human character.

It will be remembered that Mr Brontë’s children were deprived of their mother when they were at a very tender age. We are led to infer from Mrs Gaskell’s narrative, that their father – if he felt – at least did not manifest much anxiety about their physical and mental welfare; and we are told that the eldest of the motherless group, then at home, by a sort of premature inspiration, under the feeble wing of a maiden aunt, undertook their almost entire supervision. Branwell – with whom I was on terms of literary intimacy long before his fatal lapse – told me, when accidentally alluding to this painful period of in the history of his family, that his father watched over his little bereaved flock with truly paternal solicitude and affection – that he was their constant guardian and instructor – and that he took a lively interest in all their innocent amusements. Such – before the blight of disgrace fell upon him – is the testimony of Branwell to the domestic conduct of his father. “Alas!” said he to me, many years after that sad event, “had I been what my father earnestly wished and strove to make me, I should not have been the wreck you see me now!” Poor Branwell! May his sad example prove a warning to others to shun the gulf of misery into which he was prematurely plunged! If Mr Brontë had been the cold indifferent stoic he has been represented, the perpetual outflow of love and tenderness in regard to him from the hearts of his children, could not have been naturally expected. An unfeeling father ought not to complain, if he reaps but a scanty harvest of filial duty and affection in return for what he has sown. Love begets love – a saying not the less true, because it is trite.

As Mr Brontë’s children grew up, he afforded them every opportunity his limited means would allow of gratifying their tastes either in literature or the fine arts; and many times do I remember meeting him, little Charlotte, and Branwell, in the studio of the late John Bradley, at Keighley, where they hung with close-gazing inspection and silent admiration over some fresh production of the artist’s genius. Branwell was a pupil of Bradley’s, and, though some of his drawings were creditable and displayed good taste, he would never, I think, on account of his defective vision, have become a first-rate artist. In some departments of literature, and especially in poetry of a highly imaginative kind, he would have excelled…

The cold stoicism attributed to Mr Brontë was apparent only to those who knew him least; beneath this “seeming cloud” beat a heart of the deepest emotions, the effects of whose outflowings, like the waters of a placid hidden brook, were more perceptible in the verdure that marked their course than in the voice they uttered. God, and the objects to whom that good heart swelled forth in loving kindness – and the latter only, perhaps, very imperfectly – know the depth and intensity of its emotions. He was not a prater of good words, but a doer of them, for God’s inspection, not man’s approbation. Every honest appeal to his sympathy met a ready response. The needy never went empty away from his presence, nor the broken in spirit without consolation.’

William Dearden obituary, Bradford Weekly Telegraph

May we all have friends like William Dearden to defend us when the hour comes. And, may I see you again next Sunday for another new Brontë blog post.

The Brontës And The Return Of The Railway Children

There are many things that bring tourists to Haworth, but the main attraction, of course, continues to be the legacy and legend of the Brontë sisters and their family. Soon, fingers crossed, people will once again come from all over the world to see the home of Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, but they will find plenty more to interest them too.

One of the other great attractions is the railway station at Haworth, for not only is it preserved in gloriously vintage style it also runs steam trains on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway line. There’s an enduring fascination about steam trains, a beauty that simply can’t be found in modern locomotives, which is why Haworth and its station were ideal settings for the 1970 film ‘The Railway Children’.

The Railway Children is one of the greatest, and most moving, children’s films of all time, based upon a 1906 novel by E. (for Edith) Nesbit. Haworth has been a hive of excitement in the past week, as a new version of The Railway Children is currently being filmed – and it saw Haworth once again being transported back in time! In today’s post we’re going to look at images of a transformed Haworth from the recent filming, courtesy of the Yorkshire Live website, and at the Brontës and the railway.

The advent of the railway transformed Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century. Anne and Charlotte Brontë travelled to London by train; Charlotte first saw the sea after travelling to Burlington (now Bridlington) with Ellen Nussey by train; Branwell Brontë got a job as a clerk on the railways.

Francis Grundy later recalled Branwell during his employment with the railway: ‘This plain specimen of humanity, who died unhonoured, might have made the world of literature and art ring with the name of which he was so proud. When I first met him he was station-master at a small roadside place on the Manchester and Leeds Railway, Luddendenfoot by name. The line was only just opened. This station was a rude wooden hut, and there was no village near at hand. Had a position been chosen for this strange creature for the express purpose of driving him several steps to the bad, this must have been it. Alone in the wilds of Yorkshire, with few books, little to do, no prospects, and wretched pay, with no society congenial to his better tastes, but plenty of wild, rollicking, hard-headed, half-educated manufacturers, who would welcome him to their houses, and drink with him as often as he chose to come, – what was this morbid man, who couldn’t bear to be alone, to do?… After a long time something went wrong. How could it be otherwise? It was never the special forte of a genius to manage sixpences. He left the railway.’

The Black Bull transformed into The Red Lion

The railway station at Haworth was not built until after the time of the Brontës; they had to walk, or take a horse drawn carriage, to Keighley to catch this remarkable new form of transport. Nevertheless, the Brontës knew the potential of the railway and they invested some of their inheritance from Aunt Branwell in railway stock. So pleased were they with the initial performance of their shares that they are listed among investors who gave money to railway founder George Hudson, to say ‘thank you’ for his efforts. Alas, Hudson was a crooked man and their investment was eventually lost.

This extra seems to have been waiting a long time

Back to ‘The Railway Children’. The original film is faithful to the book, and involves a tale of espionage and wrongful arrest; above all it’s a tale of hope, courage and love, set against a beautiful backdrop provided by Haworth. The original novel, however, was set in London and was based on real life stories and people known to Nesbit, including Russian emigre Peter Kropotkin.

Edith Nesbit
Edith Nesbit, poet, founder of the Fabian Society and author of one of the greatest children’s novels

What do we know about this new version? As always, the story is being kept closely under wraps for now, but we know that it is a sequel entitled ‘The Railway Children Return’, and from some of the images I’ve seen it seems to be set in or around the time of the second world war. We also know that as well as starring the brilliant Sheridan Smith, the legendary Jenny Agutter is back and reprising the role of Roberta which she made her own over half a century ago!

Jenny Agutter, seen here with Bernard Cribbins in 1970, will be returning for the new film!

I certainly look forward to seeing more of the film and seeing Haworth in it (even though it’s being rebranded as the neighbouring village of Oakworth). Next week is an important week when many of us will once more be able to see the people and places we love, and amidst much good news is the confimation that the Brontë Parsonage Museum is opening its doors once again on Wednesday, 19th May – pre-booking is needed. I look forward to being back there soon, and I hope to see you all here for another new Brontë blog post next Sunday.

Who can forget the moving ending to the original film?

Brontës, Florence Nightingale And Raven Names

This week marks the 196th anniversary of the death of the eldest Brontë sibling, Maria Brontë, aged just 11. It was a great tragedy for the Brontë family, and we know from an account by Ellen Nussey that it was a loss Charlotte especially never got over: given the chance, she loved to talk of her sisters Maria and Elizabeth.

We should always remember Maria and Elizabeth when we think of the Brontë family, but today we look at a more cheerful subject: voting. Before you all get worked up about the results of your local elections this week, I’m talking about a vote of an altogether different kind: today we have the chance to name a new raven in the Tower of London, and one of the five options is Brontë!

The Tower of London themselves give this explanation as to why Brontë is one of the choices for the public to vote on: ‘Brontë: Named after 19th century literary-legends the Brontë sisters, who authored some of Britain’s best loved Gothic novels including Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights’.

Ravenmaster Chris Skaife
Ravenmaster Chris Skaife, what a great job!

I’m never altogether sure about the categorising of these novels as Gothic, but I am sure that Brontë is a great name for a raven, and of course the Tower of London ravens are very special birds indeed. Legend says that if six ravens leave the Tower then London itself will fall, which is why they currently have seven ravens in residence – it’s always good to have a spare. This tradition was apparently started by King Charles II, and as his father had had his head chopped off outside Westminster he probably thought it was better to be safe than sorry. Today, chief Ravenmaster Chris Skaife is in charge of these important birds, but what will the new addition be called?

Other naming options include Matilda, Branwen, Winifred and Florence. The latter option is sure to be popular as it’s been inspired by Florence Nightingale, ‘the lady with the lamp.’ Florence was born, in Florence, Italy, in 1820, the same year as Anne Brontë, and her story was well known to Charlotte. Florence came from a Unitarian family, and through this community became friends with the Unitarian minister William Gaskell, and his wife the writer Elizabeth.

In a letter to Catherine Winkworth of 1st February 1855, Elizabeth Gaskell considers how these two great women would get along:

‘What would Miss B[rontë] say to Florence Nightingale? I can’t imagine! For there is intellect such as I never came in contact with before in woman! Great beauty, and of her holy goodness, who is fit to speak?’

Like Charlotte Bronte, Florence Nightingale was a friend of Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth was even more fulsome in her praise for Florence in a letter written to the same Catherine a year earlier:

‘Florence is tall, very slight and willowy in figure; thick shortish rich brown hair very delicate complexion grey eyes which are generally pensive and drooping, but when they chose can be the merriest eyes I’ve ever saw; and perfect teeth making her smile the sweetest I ever saw. Put a long piece of soft net round this beautiful shaped head, so as to form a soft white framework for the full oval of her face and dress her up in black glace silk up to the long round white throat – and a black lace shawl on and you may get near an idea of her perfect grace and lovely appearance. She is like a saint.’

Florence then is obviously a strong contender for a raven name, but the good news is that two raven chicks have been born and so two names will be chosen from the shortlist of five. As Ravens feature in the following Brontë books it’s surely time that the favour was returned?

Jane Eyre

‘“My strength is quite failing me,” I said in a soliloquy. “I feel I cannot go much further. Shall I be an outcast again this night? While the rain descends so, must I lay my head on the cold, drenched ground? I fear I cannot do otherwise: for who will receive me? But it will be very dreadful, with this feeling of hunger, faintness, chill, and this sense of desolation – this total prostration of hope. In all likelihood, though, I should die before morning. And why cannot I reconcile myself to the prospect of death? Why do I struggle to retain a valueless life? Because I know, or believe, Mr. Rochester is living; and then, to die of want and cold is a fate to which nature cannot submit passively. Oh, Providence! sustain me a little longer! Aid! – direct me!”

My glazed eye wandered over the dim and misty landscape. I saw I had strayed far from the village: it was quite out of sight. The very cultivation surrounding it had disappeared. I had, by cross-ways and by-paths, once more drawn near the tract of moorland; and now, only a few fields, almost as wild and unproductive as the heath from which they were scarcely reclaimed, lay between me and the dusky hill.

“Well, I would rather die younder than in a street or on a frequented road,” I reflected. “And far better that crows and ravens – if any ravens there be in these regions – should pick my flesh from my bones, than that they should be prisoned in a workhouse coffin and moulder in a pauper’s grave.”’

Alone on the moors, Ruth Wilson’s Jane Eyre contemplates ravens

The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall

‘And there I beheld a tall, lady-like figure, clad in black. Her face was towards me, and there was something in it which, once seen, invited me to look again. Her hair was raven black, and disposed in long glossy ringlets, a style of coiffure rather unusual in those days, but always graceful and becoming; her complexion was clear and pale; her eyes I could not see, for, being bent upon her prayer-book, they were concealed by their drooping lids and long black lashes, but the brows above were expressive and well defined; the forehead was lofty and intellectual, the nose, a perfect aquiline and the features, in general, unexceptionable – only there was a slight hollowness about the cheeks and eyes, and the lips, though finely formed, were a little too thin, a little too firmly compressed, and had something about them that betokened, I thought, no very soft or amiable temper; and I said in my heart – “I would rather admire you from this distance, fair lady, than be the partner of your home.”’

Helen and Arthur in 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall'
Helen’s raven black hair enchants Gilbert

Shirley

‘”To avow before what altar I now kneel—to reveal the present idol of my soul – “

“You will make haste about it, if you please. It is near luncheon time, and confess you shall.”

“Confess I must. My heart is full of the secret. It must be spoken. I only wish you were Mr. Helstone instead of Mr. Sympson; you would sympathize with me better.”

“Madam, it is a question of common sense and common prudence, not of sympathy and sentiment, and so on. Did you say it was Mr. Helstone?”

“Not precisely, but as near as may be; they are rather alike.”

“I will know the name; I will have particulars.”

“They positively are rather alike. Their very faces are not dissimilar – a pair of human falcons – and dry, direct, decided both. But my hero is the mightier of the two. His mind has the clearness of the deep sea, the patience of its rocks, the force of its billows.”

“Rant and fustian!”

“I dare say he can be harsh as a saw-edge and gruff as a hungry raven.”’

Shirley Keeldar by Edmund Dulac
Shirley Keeldar speaks above of her love for Louis Moore

So we read here that ravens are hungry, that they are carrion pluckers, but that they also represent a rare beauty. Power and a rare beauty can be found in all Brontë writing, so surely it’s time to vote Brontë in the raven naming stakes? Head over to the Historic Royal Palaces website and do your democratic duty today – the winning names will be announced on the 19th of May.

I will see you next week for another new Brontë blog post. Will I be mentioning ravens again? Nevermore.

Emily Brontë’s May Day Linnet

The start of May has always been seen as a magical time of the year. It is said that our ancient ancestors danced amidst the fields, hoping that the Goddess Bel would bless their crops, or jumped over Bel fires to increase the fertility of their land, livestock, and themselves. Echoes of these traditions and rituals can still be seen in Morris and May Pole celebrations. Whether we call it May Day, International Worker’s Day, or simply say ‘white rabbit’ for the start of a new month, there is little doubt that the opening of May continues to be loved and celebrated – and it was also the day on which Emily Brontë wrote one of her most beautiful poems. In today’s post we’re going to look at ‘The Linnet In The Rocky Dells’.

Victorian maypole dancing
Maypole dancing – popular in Victorian times, and today

Emily Brontë, like many people of the time, was not bound by a date on a calendar, but by what she saw around her. The reason that the start of May is so revered is because it is a gateway to warmer weather, and to the rebirth of nature that it brings. If we take a stroll in the countryside today we can see trees filling with blossom, hear birds singing as they build and tend their nests, we can glance upon flowers in a beautiful abundance of colour where a month earlier had been nothing but bare earth. The oft-barren moors around Haworth have delights of their own too, and witness a similar, if sometimes more muted, rebirth, and we see this vividly in Emily’s verse written on the 1st of May 1844:

Linnet poem Emily Bronte

‘The linnet in the rocky dells,
The moor-lark in the air,
The bee among the heather-bells
That hide my lady fair:
The wild deer browse above her breast;
The wild birds raise their brood;
And they, her smiles of love caressed,
Have left their solitude!
I ween, that when the grave’s dark wall
Did first her form retain,
They thought their hearts could ne’er recall
The light of joy again.
They thought the tide of grief would flow
Unchecked through future years,
But where is all their anguish now,
And where are all their tears?
Well, let them fight for Honour’s breath,
Or Pleasure’s shade pursue –
The Dweller in the land of Death
Is changed and careless too.
And if their eyes should watch and weep
Till sorrow’s source were dry
She would not, in her tranquil sleep,
Return a single sigh!
Blow, west wind, by the lonely mound,
And murmur, summer streams –
There is no need of other sound
To soothe my Lady’s dreams.’

Here we see linnets and moor-larks, wild birds, grazing deer, and winds that sigh with the promise of summer, and yet this is a poem with a melancholy air, as so often with Emily’s verse. Nearby, below the ground, is a lady loved by the poet, sleeping tranquilly forevermore. It could be seen as a summation of Emily’s views on life and faith: why fear the passage of time or the final sleep it brings, because nature dies but is reborn; it was a stoicism she demonstrated to perfection in her own final weeks at the close of 1848.

A linnet in a rocky dell

I have been asked who the ‘Lady’ referred to in this poem actually was? Was it a supernatural figure, a deity, or is Emily thinking of her mother, aunt, or her sisters Maria and Elizabeth? Emily’s manuscript contain the letters ‘E.W.’ above the poem, and this indicates that this is a Gondal poem, in which Lord Eldred W. is addressing his departed friend A.G.A – Augusta Geraldine Almeida, beautiful but ruthless Queen of Gondal.

As always, however, Emily’s poems placed in the imaginary land of Gondal, the setting for much verse by both Emily and Anne Brontë, are inspired by people and places that she knew in real life. There is much of Emily Brontë in this poem, and it’s this power and honesty which makes it such a brilliant poem. It seems that it was much loved by Charlotte Brontë as well, for it is surely this poem which she was trying to keep from her mind when, in May 1850, she wrote:

‘I am free to walk on the moors – but when I go out there alone everything reminds me of the time when others were with me and then the moors seem a wilderness, featureless, solitary, saddening. My sister Emily had a particular love for them, and there is not a knoll of heather, not a branch of fern, not a young bilberry leaf not a fluttering lark or linnet but reminds me of her. The distant prospects were Anne’s delight, and when I look round, she is in the blue tints, the pale mists, the waves and shadows of the horizon. In the hill-country silence their poetry comes by lines and stanzas into my mind: once I loved it – now I dare not read it – and am driven often to wish I could taste one draught of oblivion and forget much that, while mind remains, I never shall forget.’

Heather bells
Heather bells

Melancholy beauty can often be found in the poetry of Emily Brontë, but the enduring message of this poem is one of optimism: life is returning, nature is opening up once again. As our world opens up once again, we too can look ahead with stoicism but also a degree of optimism. I hope that May brings you a plethora of blessings, and I hope you can join me next week for another new Brontë blog post.