Emily Bronte: Poetry & Books

Instructor: Debbie Notari
Emily Bronte, one of the famous Bronte sisters, only lived to be 30 years of age, but in her short life she composed several poems. In this lesson, we will learn more about this private and accomplished young woman and her writings.



Emily Bronte, once described as 'a strange figure - tall, slim, angular, with a quantity of dark brown hair, deep, beautiful hazel eyes that could flash with passion,' was the fifth of six children. Her mother died of cancer when she was only three years old. Emily and three of her sisters experienced hardship at the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge, infamous for cold temperatures and poor food, when Emily was just six. Her two eldest sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of tuberculosis while they attended the school. (Thankfully, Emily's father brought Charlotte and Emily home after Emily had only attended one year.) Branwell Bronte, Emily's brother, died at the age of 31, a few months before Emily, having lived a wild life - perhaps even as an alcoholic - in London. He was a talented artist, and actually painted the picture of Emily that we see in this lesson.

First Writings

Emily and Anne, one of the Bronte sisters, wrote poetry together and created a magical world called Gondal. Unfortunately, none of the Gondal poems still exist. Emily became a teacher at Law Hill School, but that only lasted for six months. She disliked teaching very much. In 1842, Emily and Charlotte attended the Pensionnat Heger School in Brussels. There, Emily learned German, French, and music.

In 1845, Charlotte found some of Emily's poems, and this upset Emily, who felt this was an intrusion on her privacy. However, she, Anne, and Charlotte worked together to write a book entitled Poems which they published under the pen names Ellis, Acton and Currer Bell in 1846. Emily's only novel, Wuthering Heights, was published in 1847. Tragically, Emily died in December of 1848 from tuberculosis, a disease that plagued her family, at the young age of 30. Her sister, Anne, died a few months after her from the same devastating disease. Of the six siblings, only Charlotte remained.


Although only 21 of Emily's poems were published in Poems by Ellis, Currer and Acton Bell, Emily actually wrote almost 200. We will focus on a few of Emily's poems, but they are only samples of all of her accomplished verses.

Here is the first stanza of Emily's poem 'Come Walk With Me:'

'Come, walk with me,

There's only thee

To bless my spirit now -

We used to love on winter nights

To wander through the snow;

Can we not woo back old delights?

The clouds rush dark and wild

They fleck with shade our mountain heights

The same as long ago

And on the horizon rest at last

In looming masses piled;

While moonbeams flash and fly so fast

We scarce can say they smiled -'

In this poem, Emily uses the iamb, a pattern of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. For instance, we would read the first line as: 'Come, WALK with ME.' The entire poem follows in the same manner. Emily's use of imagery is especially excellent in this poem. Not only does she establish a melancholy tone with the images of dark clouds rushing, we see those clouds that 'fleck with shade' the 'mountain heights.' She also uses both alliteration, in such words as 'fly,' and 'flash,' and personification in telling us that the moonbeams have the ability to smile.

Emily's poem 'Encouragement,' is about her mother's death. Emily never really knew her mother, since she lost her at the age of three. Here is the poem:

'I do not weep; I would not weep;

Our mother needs no tears:

Dry thine eyes, too; 'tis vain to keep

This causeless grief for years.

What though her brow be changed and cold,

Her sweet eyes closed for ever?

What though the stone-the darksome mould

Our mortal bodies sever?

What though her hand smooth ne'er again

Those silken locks of thine?

Nor, through long hours of future pain,

Her kind face o'er thee shine?

Remember still, she is not dead;

She sees us, sister, now;

Laid, where her angel spirit fled,

'Mid heath and frozen snow.

And from that world of heavenly light

Will she not always bend

To guide us in our lifetime's night,

And guard us to the end?

Thou knowest she will; and thou mayst mourn

That we are left below:

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