Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology

Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
From Poems

Emily Bronte (1818–1848)
TELL 1 me, tell me, smiling child,
What the Past is like to thee.
—An Autumn evening soft and mild
With a wind that sighs mournfully.
Tell me what is the Present hour.        5
—A green and flowery spray,
Where a young bird sits gathering its power
To mount and fly away.
And what is the Future, happy one?
—A sea beneath a cloudless sun:        10
A mighty glorious dazzling sea
Stretching into Infinity.

  The inspiring music’s thrilling sound,
The glory of the festal day,
The glittering splendor rising round,        15
Have pass’d like all earth’s joys away.
Forsaken by that lady fair
She glides unheeding thro’ them all;
Covering her brow to hide the tear
That still, tho’ check’d, trembles to fall.        20
She hurries thro’ the outer hall,
And up the stairs thro’ galleries dim,
That murmur to the breezes’ call,
The night-wind’s lonely vesper-hymn.
Note 1. Emily Bronte. This poem is thus given in ‘The Complete Poems of Emily Brontë’, Hodder and Stoughton, 1910, p. 92, where it is printed with wrong punctuation and without a division between the two parts. In the ‘Brontë Poems’ [see 121] the second part is judged not to belong to the first. I failed in my enquiries for external evidence: but am unwilling to discard so beautiful a sequel: for, as I had read it, the second half poetically supplies the stimulus needed to arouse the child’s divination: and shows the reaction on herself, when its full meaning dawns on her consciousness. [back]

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