Saturday, February 9, 2013

Classic Poetry ~ "Warning and Reply" by Emily Brontë

Emily Brontë, 1818-1848
A few weeks back we featured Charlotte Brontë here in Classic Poetry, and referenced her sisters Anne and Emily. As you may remember, all three women achieved impressive literary heights before they died in their thirties. And yes... poor pun was intended, because Emily, an oft-published poet called both independent and opinionated, is most remembered for her novel Wuthering Heights. Having attended to five members of her immediate family through illness and death, Emily often wrote of these topics. Warning and Reply is one such dedicated piece.

Warning and Reply

In the earth--the earth--thou shalt be laid,
A grey stone standing over thee;
Black mould beneath thee spread,
And black mould to cover thee.

"Well--there is rest there,
So fast come thy prophecy;
The time when my sunny hair
Shall with grass roots entwined be."

But cold--cold is that resting-place,
Shut out from joy and liberty,
And all who loved thy living face
Will shrink from it shudderingly,

"Not so. HERE the world is chill,
And sworn friends fall from me:
But THERE--they will own me still,
And prize my memory."

Farewell, then, all that love,
All that deep sympathy:
Sleep on: Heaven laughs above,
Earth never misses thee.

Turf-sod and tombstone drear
Part human company;
One heart breaks only--here,
But that heart was worthy thee!


  1. What loss that the talent in this family was cut short!

    On reading this, I kept thinking how it might sound in today's language. Translation, of a sort. Might be a fun exercise.

  2. Wuthering Heights was my favorite Class reader, and we discussed the lives of the Bronte household with passion in class.

    Thank you for the picture. Perhaps one day we can feature the make believe world of Gondal and Angria.

  3. Wuthering Heights was my favorite too. Such tragic lives, beautiful and so talented, and so brief a time on earth.

  4. Excellent poem to share here, Kim.

    I was also struck by the fact that poor Emily died at only 30 years old!


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