The Prisoner

Emily Brontë.
1818 – 1848

STILL let my tyrants know, I am not doom’d to wear

Year after year in gloom and desolate despair;

A messenger of Hope comes every night to me,

And offers for short life, eternal liberty.


He comes with Western winds, with evening’s wandering airs,

With that clear dusk of heaven that brings the thickest stars:

Winds take a pensive tone, and stars a tender fire,

And visions rise, and change, that kill me with desire.


Desire for nothing known in my maturer years,

When Joy grew mad with awe, at counting future tears:

When, if my spirit’s sky was full of flashes warm,

I knew not whence they came, from sun or thunder-storm.


But first, a hush of peace—a soundless calm descends;

The struggle of distress and fierce impatience ends.

Mute music soothes my breast—unutter’d harmony

That I could never dream, till Earth was lost to me.


Then dawns the Invisible; the Unseen its truth reveals;

My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels;

Its wings are almost free—its home, its harbour found,

Measuring the gulf, it stoops, and dares the final bound.


O dreadful is the check—intense the agony—

When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;

When the pulse begins to throb—the brain to think again—

The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.


Yet I would lose no sting, would wish no torture less;

The more that anguish racks, the earlier it will bless;

And robed in fires of hell, or bright with heavenly shine,

If it but herald Death, the vision is divine.


literature, poetry

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