Charlotte Bronte

Here you will find the Long Poem Mementos of poet Charlotte Bronte


ARRANGING long-locked drawers and shelves 
 Of cabinets, shut up for years, 
What a strange task we've set ourselves ! 
 How still the lonely room appears ! 
How strange this mass of ancient treasures, 
Mementos of past pains and pleasures; 
These volumes, clasped with costly stone, 
With print all faded, gilding gone; 

These fans of leaves, from Indian trees­ 
These crimson shells, from Indian seas­ 
These tiny portraits, set in rings­ 
Once, doubtless, deemed such precious things; 
Keepsakes bestowed by Love on Faith, 
And worn till the receiver's death, 
Now stored with cameos, china, shells, 
In this old closet's dusty cells. 

I scarcely think, for ten long years, 
 A hand has touched these relics old; 
And, coating each, slow-formed, appears, 
 The growth of green and antique mould. 

All in this house is mossing over; 
 All is unused, and dim, and damp; 
Nor light, nor warmth, the rooms discover­ 
 Bereft for years of fire and lamp. 

The sun, sometimes in summer, enters 
 The casements, with reviving ray; 
But the long rains of many winters 
 Moulder the very walls away. 

And outside all is ivy, clinging 
 To chimney, lattice, gable grey; 
Scarcely one little red rose springing 
 Through the green moss can force its way. 

Unscared, the daw, and starling nestle, 
 Where the tall turret rises high, 
And winds alone come near to rustle 
 The thick leaves where their cradles lie. 

I sometimes think, when late at even 
 I climb the stair reluctantly, 
Some shape that should be well in heaven, 
 Or ill elsewhere, will pass by me. 

I fear to see the very faces, 
 Familiar thirty years ago, 
Even in the old accustomed places 
 Which look so cold and gloomy now. 

I've come, to close the window, hither, 
 At twilight, when the sun was down, 
And Fear, my very soul would wither, 
 Lest something should be dimly shown. 

Too much the buried form resembling, 
 Of her who once was mistress here; 
Lest doubtful shade, or moonbeam trembling, 
 Might take her aspect, once so dear. 

Hers was this chamber; in her time 
 It seemed to me a pleasant room, 
For then no cloud of grief or crime 
 Had cursed it with a settled gloom; 

I had not seen death's image laid 
In shroud and sheet, on yonder bed. 
 Before she married, she was blest­ 
Blest in her youth, blest in her worth; 
 Her mind was calm, its sunny rest 
Shone in her eyes more clear than mirth. 

And when attired in rich array, 
 Light, lustrous hair about her brow, 
She yonder sat­a kind of day 
 Lit up­what seems so gloomy now. 
These grim oak walls, even then were grim; 
 That old carved chair, was then antique; 
But what around looked dusk and dim 
 Served as a foil to her fresh cheek; 
Her neck, and arms, of hue so fair, 
 Eyes of unclouded, smiling, light; 
Her soft, and curled, and floating hair, 
 Gems and attire, as rainbow bright. 

Reclined in yonder deep recess, 
 Ofttimes she would, at evening, lie 
Watching the sun; she seemed to bless 
 With happy glance the glorious sky. 
She loved such scenes, and as she gazed, 
 Her face evinced her spirit's mood; 
Beauty or grandeur ever raised 
 In her, a deep-felt gratitude. 

But of all lovely things, she loved 
 A cloudless moon, on summer night; 
Full oft have I impatience proved 
 To see how long, her still delight 
Would find a theme in reverie. 
 Out on the lawn, or where the trees 
Let in the lustre fitfully, 
As their boughs parted momently, 
 To the soft, languid, summer breeze. 
Alas ! that she should e'er have flung 
 Those pure, though lonely joys away­ 
Deceived by false and guileful tongue, 
She gave her hand, then suffered wrong; 
Oppressed, ill-used, she faded young, 
 And died of grief by slow decay. 

Open that casket­look how bright 
Those jewels flash upon the sight; 
The brilliants have not lost a ray 
Of lustre, since her wedding day. 
But see­upon that pearly chain­ 
How dim lies time's discolouring stain ! 
I've seen that by her daughter worn: 
For, e'er she died, a child was born; 
A child that ne'er its mother knew, 
That lone, and almost friendless grew; 
For, ever, when its step drew nigh, 
Averted was the father's eye; 
And then, a life impure and wild 
Made him a stranger to his child; 
Absorbed in vice, he little cared 
On what she did, or how she fared. 
The love withheld, she never sought, 
She grew uncherished­learnt untaught; 
To her the inward life of thought 
 Full soon was open laid. 
I know not if her friendlessness 
Did sometimes on her spirit press, 
 But plaint she never made. 

The book-shelves were her darling treasure, 
She rarely seemed the time to