by: Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)

      HAT is she writing? Watch her now,
      How fast her fingers move!
      How eagerly her youthful brow
      Is bent in thought above!
      Her long curls, drooping, shade the light,
      She puts them quick aside,
      Nor knows that band of crystals bright,
      Her hasty touch untied.
      It slips adown her silken dress,
      Falls glittering at her feet;
      Unmarked it falls, for she no less
      Pursues her labour sweet.

      The very loveliest hour that shines,
      Is in that deep blue sky;
      The golden sun of June declines,
      It has not caught her eye.
      The cheerful lawn, and unclosed gate,
      The white road, far away,
      In vain for her light footsteps wait,
      She comes not forth to-day.
      There is an open door of glass
      Close by that lady's chair,
      From thence, to slopes of messy grass,
      Descends a marble stair.

      Tall plants of bright and spicy bloom
      Around the threshold grow;
      Their leaves and blossoms shade the room
      From that sun's deepening glow.
      Why does she not a moment glance
      Between the clustering flowers,
      And mark in heaven the radiant dance
      Of evening's rosy hours?
      O look again! Still fixed her eye,
      Unsmiling, earnest, still,
      And fast her pen and fingers fly,
      Urged by her eager will.

      Her soul is in th'absorbing task;
      To whom, then, doth she write?
      Nay, watch her still more closely, ask
      Her own eyes' serious light;
      Where do they turn, as now her pen
      Hangs o'er th'unfinished line?
      Whence fell the tearful gleam that then
      Did in their dark spheres shine?
      The summer-parlour looks so dark,
      When from that sky you turn,
      And from th'expanse of that green park,
      You scarce may aught discern.

      Yet, o'er the piles of porcelain rare,
      O'er flower-stand, couch, and vase,
      Sloped, as if leaning on the air,
      One picture meets the gaze.
      'Tis there she turns; you may not see
      Distinct, what form defines
      The clouded mass of mystery
      Yon broad gold frame confines.
      But look again; inured to shade
      Your eyes now faintly trace
      A stalwart form, a massive head,
      A firm, determined face.

      Black Spanish locks, a sunburnt cheek
      A brow high, broad, and white,
      Where every furrow seems to speak
      Of mind and moral might.
      Is that her god? I cannot tell;
      Her eye a moment met
      Th'impending picture, then it fell
      Darkened and dimmed and wet.
      A moment more, her task is done,
      And sealed the letter lies;
      And now, towards the setting sun
      She turns her tearful eyes.

      Those tears flow over, wonder not,
      For by the inscription see
      In what a strange and distant spot
      Her heart of hearts must be!
      Three seas and many a league of land
      That letter must pass o'er,
      Ere read by him to whose loved hand
      'Tis sent from England's shore.
      Remote colonial wilds detain
      Her husband, loved though stern;
      She, 'mid that smiling English scene,
      Weeps for his wished return.

"The Letter" is reprinted from Poems By Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1848.




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