No Coward Soul Is Mine

Five poems by Emily Brontë,  from the book The Night is Darkening Round Me (2015)

*

No coward soul is mine

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.

*

Plead For Me

O thy bright eyes must answer now,
When Reason, with a scornful brow,
Is mocking at my overthrow;
O thy sweet tongue must plead for me
And tell why I have chosen thee!

Stern Reason is to judgment come
Arrayed in all her forms of gloom:
Wilt thou my advocate be dumb?
No, radiant angel, speak and say
Why I did cast the world away;

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.

These once indeed seemed Beings divine,
And they perchance heard vows of mine
And saw my offerings on their shrine—
But, careless gifts are seldom prized,
And mine were worthily despised;

So with a ready heart I swore
To seek their altar-stone no more,
And gave my spirit to adore
Thee, ever present, phantom thing—
My slave, my comrade, and my King!

A slave because I rule thee still;
Incline thee to my changeful will
And make thy influence good or ill—
A comrade, for by day and night
Thou art my intimate delight—

My Darling Pain that wounds and sears
And wrings a blessing out from tears
By deadening me to real cares;
And yet, a king—though prudence well
Have taught thy subject to rebel.

And am I wrong to worship where
Faith cannot doubt nor Hope despair,
Since my own soul can grant my prayer?
Speak, God of Visions, plead for me
And tell why I have chosen thee!

*

The night is darkening round me,

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me,
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow;
The storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

*

Honour’s Martyr

The moon is full this winter night;
⁠The stars are clear though few;
And every window glistens bright
⁠With leaves of frozen dew.

The sweet moon through your lattice gleams,
⁠And lights your room like day;
And there you pass, in happy dreams,
⁠The peaceful hours away!

While I, with effort hardly quelling
⁠The anguish in my breast,
Wander about the silent dwelling,
⁠And cannot think of rest.

The old clock in the gloomy hall
⁠Ticks on, from hour to hour;
And every time its measured call
⁠Seems lingering slow and slower:

And, oh, how slow that keen-eyed star
⁠Has tracked the chilly grey!
What, watching yet! how very far
⁠The morning lies away!

Without your chamber door I stand;
⁠Love, are you slumbering still?
My cold heart, underneath my hand,
⁠Has almost ceased to thrill.

Bleak, bleak the east wind sobs and sighs,
⁠And drowns the turret bell,
Whose sad note, undistinguished, dies
⁠Unheard, like my farewell!

To-morrow, Scorn will blight my name,
⁠And Hate will trample me,
Will load me with a coward’s shame—
⁠A traitor’s perjury.

False friends will launch their covert sneers;
⁠True friends will wish me dead;
And I shall cause the bitterest tears
⁠That you have ever shed.

The dark deeds of my outlawed race
⁠Will then like virtues shine;
And men will pardon their disgrace,
⁠Beside the guilt of mine.

For, who forgives the accursed crime
⁠Of dastard treachery?
Rebellion, in its chosen time,
⁠May Freedom’s champion be;

Revenge may stain a righteous sword,
⁠It may be just to slay;
But, traitor, traitor,—from that word
⁠All true breasts shrink away!

Oh, I would give my heart to death,
⁠To keep my honour fair;
Yet, I’ll not give my inward faith
⁠My honour’s name to spare!

Not even to keep your priceless love,
⁠Dare I, Beloved, deceive;
This treason should the future prove,
⁠Then, only then, believe!

I know the path I ought to go;
⁠I follow fearlessly,
Inquiring not what deeper woe
⁠Stern duty stores for me.

So foes pursue, and cold allies
⁠Mistrust me, every one:
Let me be false in others’ eyes,
⁠If faithful in my own.

*

All hushed and still within the house;

All hushed and still within the house;
Without–all wind and driving rain;
But something whispers to my mind,
Through rain and through the wailing wind,
Never again.
Never again? Why not again?
Memory has power as real as thine.


‘Spring’, by Harald Slott-Møller, 1896


About the book

  • Penguin Classics, 2015, 63 p. Goodreads
  •  Little Black Classics
  • My rating: 3 stars
  • I read this book for my Read More Poetry project & for Victober
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