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Emily Brontë’s “The Night is Darkening Around Me”:


“The blue bell is the sweetest flower that waves in summer air, its blossoms have the mightiest power to soothe my spirits care”.

Emily Brontë is known for being the wild sister. She is mysterious, moody and dark all whilst being completely intriguing and mesmerising – you really get the feel for this when reading Wuthering Heights. I knew this would only be intensified in her poetry, so I finally gave this Penguin Little Black Classic a read. This edition is a collection of her “most passionate [and] powerful poems on death, nature’s beauty and the passage of time”, which is thankfully my kind of poetry.

In this collection of thirty poems, the ones which resonated the most with me were her more natural poems. Those which described the iconic Yorkshire moors – the very moors which are barren in winter, but flourish in the spring. It’s a renowned fact that Emily felt the most at home when out in nature, hence why these poems seemed the most raw and emotional out of the bunch. I truly get the feeling that she’s at home when wandering through the fields, accompanied by the rough winds and blooming heather. It was comforting to read these more natural poems because I know how much these landscapes meant to Emily – they were her sanctuary. It’s even more comforting to know Emily is openly sharing this love with her readers, even though she never intended for them to be published (so, I owe gratitude to Charlotte for that). From these poems, I felt the true power that nature had over Emily.

My favourite line from one of her nature poems is the one you see quoted at the start of this review. To be honest, I’m not sure why these lines stuck with me so fiercely, but they did nonetheless. Emily has such a way of describing the most simplest of things: she takes these ordinary flowers, which blow in the summer breeze yet are “perishable and rootless” as Charlotte claims, and makes them seem whimsical. These simple and mundane things can soothe her wild soul. It isn’t until you read something like this that you realise the full impact nature has on one – it has the power to soothe and calm one’s wild spirit. Taking a little detour, when I was driving through the mountains in the Lake District last week, I realised how small and insubstantial I am compared to the grandeur of nature (this is known as the sublime – most powerful in Wordsworth and Coleridge’s poetry). I immediately wanted to take out my notebook and start jotting down verse, and I feel like that’s what Emily did most days when out roaming the moors. Nature inspires, uplifts and electrifies one’s creativity.

I also equally enjoyed reading Emily’s poems on death. As we can gather from reading Wuthering Heights, Emily is someone who is more in tune with their morbid and dark side. She brings death to such beautiful things – things that you don’t want to see wither away to nothing. She describes them so enchantingly that you’re mesmerised by the process, despite its upsetting nature. In the very same poem (it has no name; labelled 23 in this collection, but will show as “the blue bell is the sweetest flower”), she states “the blue bell cannot charm me now, the heath has lost its bloom, the violets in the glen below, they yield no sweet perfume”. These juxtaposing images change so rapidly that the impact leaves you stunned, and how amazing is that? Someone has the capacity to make you feel such strong emotions, like shock, from a few simple words and the passage of time. Poetry never fails to astound me, and it’s clear that Emily knows what she is doing.

To wrap this up, Emily Brontë is a truly remarkable poet. Composing verse is where her best qualities lie. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wuthering Heights, but there’s something about her poetry which is so raw, so moving and so enchanting that nothing else can compare to it. Some of her poems lasted for a whole stanza, but they did more for me than her two volume novel did. She’s a treasure, and if you were to read anything by her make sure it’s her poetry. This edition is a good starting point as it introduces you to some of her best work, although it does not represent even half of her poetry.

Thanks for reading, Lauren Xx


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