“Life” – A poem by Charlotte Brontë

Context: The poems of the Brontë-sisters are perhaps less known than their novels. All sisters produced poetry which was published under pen names. These poems were published early in their writing careers. Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) is most known for her novels:  The Professor, Jane Eyre, Shirley and Vilette. All of them considered classics of English literature. I think it’s quite amazing they managed to create so much literature despite poor health and hunger. The Brontës were far from rich and while serving as governess Charlotte Brontë was hungry all the time.

This poem is hopeful and has a bright message (but no illusions) to anyone who wish to enjoy their life. Charlotte borrows several motives from nature to communicate her message. It has a fine rhytm too.

Themes:  Life, living, enjoy the day, nature

LIFE, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?
Rapidly, merrily,
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily,
Enjoy them as they fly!

What though Death at times steps in
And calls our Best away?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O’er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!


Bronte, Charlotte, Emily Bronte, and Anne Bronte. Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. – Project Gutenberg

Gordon, Lyndall. 1996. Charlotte Bronte: a passionate life. W.W. Norton.


Charlotte Brontë, 1850. Chalk on paper by G. Richmond

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