misssylviadrake (misssylviadrake) wrote,

Poems to and in the voice of Charlotte Bronte

Dear Friends,

In my old blog I used to like to dwell on women's poems which resurrected (brought alive) previous woman authors or previously living women whose lives or situation or characters the author knew just enough about to commemorate and make her foremother, predecessor.  This is form or subgenre of foremother poem as such.

Today I put here (and put on WWTTA) the following two fine poems by Andrea Potos in the person and out of the perspective of Charlotte, Anne and Emily Bronte:

A French girls' school, later 19th, early 20th century by Helen Allingham (1848-1926), the Brontes all had formative experiences in such places

Both poems appear in The Women's Review of Books, 26/4 (2009), p. 22

Here are two by Andrea Potos which bring alive Charlotte and Anne and Emily Bronte. 

               Charlotte Bronte at the Meeting of the Waters
                               by Andrea Potos

Far over moorland,
beyond the daily ramble
is the place that belongs
to Emily and Anne. They call it
the Meeting of the Waters.
They lead me there one morning,
to turf the hue
and sheen of emeralds.
Delicate springs surprise me,
play such light music over stones.

Larger stones offer us rest
for the hours we dwell where
only the sky knows us,
and clear waters rise
from their source.

It is here Emily proclaims:
_I'll walk where my own nature
would beleading,
It vexes me to choose
another guide_, her voice
swept and lost
over miles of windtossed heather.

Another by Allingham:  Blackdown, Sussex, 1902

                        Charlotte Bronte as Governess
                                  by Andrea Potos

It is true I've said
_a private governess has no
existence_ beyond the weary, unending lessons;
unruly children; commands
from those who fail to see
her true face. They thrust upon her
oceans of needlework and mending.
Yet, on certain days, I know
my heart beats in my breast.
My mind roams unblighted
out of the nursery,
travels to places strange­ --
the attic room we found
on our visit to the Ripon manor house.
             Beyond a tall tapestry was stashed
a secret room where not one window
hinted toward another life.

Scorched beams, cracked walls,
an iron cot rusted
and hunched in the corner
caused me to shiver, rumors
of a mad woman once tucked under those eaves,
behind battlements
like admonitions to the world.

Elin Danielson (1861-1919) , Reading Time 1890, the outward appearance of the governess idealized


The first makes specific allusion to Emily and Anne and is spoken by Charlotte. I love its assertion of I upon myself can live here in this spot of nature.

The second focuses on the concerns of Charlotte's novels: Charlotte is much more concerned that she hasn't a separate existence, a love life specifically in her job; and shows us how Charlotte escaped this kind of life-in-death imprissonment: her imagination.  Anne's books are rather about the horrors of human nature when someone is put under the control of others the way a governess is; nevertheless, one could apply to the mood and feel of Anne Bronte's fictions, especially the hard work and unruly coarse children -- and this depiction of human nature is found in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, an equally truthful book, this time also about love relationships, and much less romantic or sentimentalized and optimistic the way Jane Eyre finally is.  You might say the two Bronte women invented the figure of the governess and how it may be used today too.

The second poem hovers over today; it could be the author today going back and reliving.

Under the sign of Austen who may be said to have brought to a high poetic and living level the tradition of women's novels which had begun to evolve as burningly there conversations between authors and readers from the time of Marie de Lafayette' La Princesse de Cleves.

Marie Bashkirtseff (1858-84), Autumn, a short life for a great painter and memoirist

Tags: 19th century, women's art, women's poetry

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