Anne Bronte

Here you will find the Long Poem Three Guides, The of poet Anne Bronte

Three Guides, The

Spirit of earth! thy hand is chill.
 I've felt its icy clasp;
And shuddering I remember still
 That stony-hearted grasp.
Thine eye bids love and joy depart,
 O turn its gaze from me!
It presses down my sinking heart; --
 I will not walk with thee! 
'Wisdom is mine,' I've heard thee say,
 'Beneath my searching eye,
All mist and darkness melt away,
 Phantoms and fables fly.
Before me, truth can stand alone,
 The naked, solid truth:
And man matured my worth will own,
 If I am shunned by youth.

'Firm is my tread, and sure, though slow:
 My footsteps never slide:
And he that follows me shall know
 I am the surest guide.'
Thy boast is vain: but were it true
 That thou couldst safely steer
Life's rough and devious pathway through
 Such guidance I should fear.

How could I bear to walk for aye,
 With eyes to earthward prone,
O'er trampled weeds, and miry clay,
 And sand, and flinty stone.
Never the glorious view to greet
 Of hill and dale and sky,
To see that Nature's charms are sweet
 Or feel that Heaven is nigh?

If, in my heart arose a spring --
 A gush of thought divine,
At once stagnation thou wouldst bring
 With that cold touch of thine!
If glancing up, I sought to snatch
 But one glimpse of the sky,
My baffled gaze would only catch
 Thy heartless, cold grey eye.

If, to the breezes wandering near,
 I listened eagerly,
And deemed an angel's tongue to hear
 That whispered hope to me,
That heavenly music would be drowned
 In thy harsh, droning voice,
Nor inward thought, nor sight, nor sound
 Might my sad soul rejoice.

Dull is thine ear; unheard by thee
 The still small voice of Heaven.
Thine eyes are dim, and cannot see
 The helps that God has given.
There is a bridge, o'er every flood,
 Which thou canst not perceive,
A path, through every tangled wood;
 But thou will not believe.

Striving to make thy way by force,
 Toil-spent and bramble torn,
Thou'lt fell the tree that stops thy course,
 And burst through briar and thorn;
And pausing by the river's side,
 Poor reasoner, thou wilt deem,
By casting pebbles in its tide
 To cross the swelling stream.

Right through the flinty rock thou'lt try
 Thy toilsome way to bore,
Regardless of the pathway nigh
 That would conduct thee o'er.
Not only are thou, then, unkind,
 And freezing cold to me,
But unbelieving, deaf, and blind --
 I will not walk with thee!

Spirit of Pride! thy wings are strong;
 Thine eyes like lightning shine;
Ecstatic joys to thee belong
 And powers almost divine.
But 'tis a false destructive blaze,
 Within those eyes I see,
Turn hence their fascinating gaze --
 I will not follow thee!

'Coward and fool!' thou mayst reply;
 'Walk on the common sod;
Go trace, with timid foot and eye,
 The steps by others trod.
'Tis best the beaten path to keep,
 The ancient faith to hold,
To pasture with thy fellow sheep,
 And lie within the fold.

'Cling to the earth, poor grovelling worm,
 'Tis not for thee to soar
Against the fury of the storm,
 Amid the thunder's roar.
There's glory in that daring strife
 Unknown, undreamt by thee;
There's speechless rapture in the life
 Of those who follow me!'

Yes; I have seen thy votaries oft,
 Upheld by thee their guide,
In strength and courage mount aloft
 The steepy mountain-side;
I've seen them stand against the sky,
 And gazing from below
Beheld thy lightning in their eye,
 Thy triumph on their brow.

Oh! I have felt what glory then --
 What transport must be theirs'
So far above their fellow men,
 Above their toils and cares,
Inhaling nature's purest breath,
 Her riches round them spread,
The wide expanse of earth beneath,
 Heaven's glories overhead!

But -- I have seen them downwards dashed,
 Down to a bloody grave;
And still thy ruthless eye has flashed,
 Thy strong hand did not save!
I've seen some o'er the mountain's brow
 Sustained a while by thee,
O'er rocks of ice and hills of snow
 Bound fearless, wild, and free.

Bold and exultant was their mien
 While thou didst cheer them on;
But evening fell -- and then, I ween,
 Their faithless guide was gone.
Alas! how fared thy favourites then --
 Lone, helpless, weary, cold --
Did ever wanderer find again
 The path he left of old?

Where is their glory, where the pride
 That swelled their hearts before;
Where now the courage that defied
 The mightiest tempest's roar?
What shall they do when night grows black,
 When angry storms arise?
Who now will lead them to the track
 Thou taught'st them to despise?