Poetry Challenge 4 “Ah, Why Because the Dazzling Sun” by Emily Bronte

Let’s do another rhyme-borrowing challenge this time. Unlike the last challenge, I’m sharing the poem ahead of time. I’m wondering if it will affect the entries or not. Feel free to do something completely different than our author, the wild and elven Emily Bronte, did.

The rules: Use any or all end rhymes from the poem, as end or internal rhymes, once or multiple times. Do not bring in rhymes from somewhere else.

Due on Tuesday, July 1st 2014. This should be fun! (Next time, I’m considering doing a meter challenge, in which we copy a famous poet’s meter.)

Enjoy the poem:

Ah! why, because the dazzling sun
Restored my earth to joy
Have you departed, every one,
And left a desert sky?

All through the night, your glorious eyes
Were gazing down in mine,
And with a full heart’s thankful sighs
I blessed that watch divine!

I was at peace, and drank your beams
As they were life to me
And revelled in my changeful dreams
Like petrel on the sea.

Thought followed thought—star followed star
Through boundless regions on,
While one sweet influence, near and far,
Thrilled through and proved us one.

Why did the morning rise to break
So great, so pure a spell,
And scorch with fire the tranquil cheek
Where your cool radiance fell?

Blood-red he rose, and arrow-straight,
His fierce beams struck my brow;
The soul of Nature sprang elate,
But mine sank sad and low!

My lids closed down—yet through their veil
I saw him blazing still;
And bathe in gold the misty dale,
And flash upon the hill.

I turned me to the pillow then
To call back Night, and see
Your worlds of solemn light, again
Throb with my heart and me!

It would not do—the pillow glowed
And glowed both roof and floor,
And birds sang loudly in the wood,
And fresh winds shook the door.

The curtains waved, the wakened flies
Were murmuring round my room,
Imprisoned there, till I should rise
And give them leave to roam.

O Stars and Dreams and Gentle Night;
O Night and Stars return!
And hide me from the hostile light
That does not warm, but burn—

That drains the blood of suffering men;
Drinks tears, instead of dew:
Let me sleep through his blinding reign,
And only wake with you!

4 thoughts on “Poetry Challenge 4 “Ah, Why Because the Dazzling Sun” by Emily Bronte

  1. Great selection! You keep reminding us of the rich heritage of poems in English that can’t be found any more in local public libraries and chain bookstores. I really like this one, and (with help from Internet friends) I am no longer tempted to find theological themes in such phrases as “your glorious eyes” and “I blessed that watch divine!” ☺

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    • LOL, good point. However, I would also caution against reading them into meaninglessness. Emily Bronte was a Romantic, and so in a sense she did divinize Nature. As a good Anglican she would never have said that the stars are literally God, but I don’t doubt that she did see the beauty of nature as an emanation, in some sense, from Him. So yes, I would agree there are no heavy theological themes here in the sense that she is not trying to say something about God or doctrine. But that doesn’t mean that the words are a meaningless substitute for “beautiful.” Glory and divinity are without a doubt her names for the qualities and chracter of what she ssee outdoors and especially in the stars. She doesn’t say something about God directly, but her world, her Universe, is bounded by God’s will and God’s creative act, so she can hardly produce a poem that reflects no consciousness of his presence at all.

      There’s something else to take into consideration, though, and that is the fact that she had read widely and that her literary age was in the later stages of a centuries-long fad of making constant reference to Classical (Greek and Roman) literature. C. S. Lewis insists that the Greco-Roman way of thinking made no impression on English literature whatever, but that English writers went on writing with English sentiments, while making reference to Classical themes, characters, incidents, and even ancient gossip, as a way of enriching their material.

      As a result, it may be that Emily Bronte picked up a certain habit of referring to heavenly bodies as divine (in Greco-Roman philosophy, that’s quite literal) as a literary convention. However, could she have been completely unaware that this literary convention had been adopted by English writers as a comparison, a way of saying that the heavenly bodies are LIKE something divine in that they are above us, shine brightly (glory) and inspire us to thoughts of better things?

      It would be interesting to try to pin down exactly how she meant this. It would take more research than I have the ability to get into at the moment, but I may return to it once I purchase a few books in my wish list on Amazon.

      My guess is that if we did the research we would conclude that to her such expressions simply seemed natural and reflected a largely unconscious inner amalgamation of all these factors. The reason I guess this is because we know that Emily’s learning was largely gotten out of doors and in private reading. Her formal learning was somewhat limited, and she had the character of a rover, a constant wanderer out of doors, who would become deeply enraptured by what she saw there. (Later, she would come home and write, inspired by her experiences.) Thus, in her poetry there is originality and authenticity, but not enormous scope. Some things have not become fully conscious yet.

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      • “. . . her such expressions simply seemed natural and reflected a largely unconscious inner amalgamation of all these factors.”

        I can relate to this. Thanks for the reminder about unintended themes appearing quite naturally in, or behind, concrete images.

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    • I think we have to take in a fair amount of our predecessors’ poetry in order to write as part of a literary tradition. But, if that is our goal, then the poetry we should most often choose to read is that poetry written by poets who, like ourselves, read and wrote within the tradition.

      Outside the tradition, it’s much easier to go wrong, to get weird, to flounder, to reinvent the wheel unnecessarily, to miss advances and improvements built on one another and made by other poets over the years, to fail to find the archetypes and the spirit of one’s people, or to miss the greatest streams of inspiration that have watered the richest plains of literary accomplishment and cultural consciousness.

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