('Severed and gone')
Written: April 1847.  First Published: 1915.

(N.B: The coloured text refers to the specific lines, presented in the same colour, in the poem below.)

This is the final love poem Anne wrote in memory of William Weightman. As with her poem of two years earlier - 'Yes, Thou Art Gone' ('A Reminiscence'), the poet remembers her departed loved one, who is buried beneath 'flagstones' (not in a grave), in a corner where the 'moisture never dries'. As pointed out in the notes to that poem, Weightman is buried beneath the floor of Haworth church in a place that continues to suffer from dampness today. Other lines in this poem (marked in red) banish any doubt that Weightman is its subject; for instance: 'A few cold words on yonder stone' - a memorial stone for Weightman was erected on the wall of the church - it remains there today.125n  Juliet Barker argues that the lines of Anne's 'love poems' about Weightman are surprisingly calm and resigned, suggesting that there was nothing more than fondness in her feelings for him, and though she certainly regretted his early death, was not necessarily in love with him - as most other biographers believe. However, when one considers the content of all the poems she wrote about him; and that there were a total of seven such poems - spanning a five year period following his death; the final one comprising these moving verses - openly declaring 'and art thou still so dear to me', 'my beloved is not there', and that 'the form I loved was buried deep'; it is difficult to believe that it was not more than fondness that motivated her to produce these poetic creations in his memory.

Ada Harrison refers to this composition as 'her longest and most moving poem in his memory'.126

(See also: Chitham, 'The Poems of Anne Brontë', p.141 & p.192: and Gerin, 'Anne Brontë - A Biography', p.184)

Severed and gone, so many years!
And art thou still so dear to me,
That throbbing heart and burning tears
Can witness how I cling to thee?

I know that in the narrow tomb
The form I loved was buried deep,
And left, in silence and in gloom,
To slumber out its dreamless sleep.

I know the corner where it lies,
Is but a dreary place of rest:
The charnel moisture never dries
From the dark flagstones o'er its breast,

For there the sunbeams never shine,
Nor ever breathes the freshening air,
­- But not for this do I repine;
For my beloved is not there.

O, no! I do not think of thee
As festering there in slow decay: ­-
'Tis this sole thought oppresses me,
That thou art gone so far away.

For ever gone; for I, by night,
Have prayed, within my silent room,
That Heaven would grant a burst of light
Its cheerless darkness to illume;

And give thee to my longing eyes,
A moment, as thou shinest now,
Fresh from thy mansion in the skies,
With all its glories on thy brow.

Wild was the wish, intense the gaze
I fixed upon the murky air,
Expecting, half, a kindling blaze
Would strike my raptured vision there, --

A shape these human nerves would thrill,
A majesty that might appal,
Did not thy earthly likeness, still,
Gleam softly, gladly, through it all.

False hope! vain prayer! it might not be
That thou shouldst visit earth again.
I called on Heaven --­ I called on thee,
And watched, and waited --­ all in vain.

Had I one shining tress of thine,
How it would bless these longing eyes!
Or if thy pictured form were mine,
What gold should rob me of the prize?

A few cold words on yonder stone,
A corpse as cold as they can be -­
Vain words, and mouldering dust, alone -­
Can this be all that's left of thee?

O, no! thy spirit lingers still
Where'er thy sunny smile was seen:
There's less of darkness, less of chill
On earth, than if thou hadst not been.

Thou breathest in my bosom yet,
And dwellest in my beating heart;
And, while I cannot quite forget,
Thou, darling, canst not quite depart.

Though, freed from sin, and grief, and pain
Thou drinkest now the bliss of Heaven,
Thou didst not visit earth in vain;
And from us, yet, thou art not riven.

Life seems more sweet that thou didst live,
And men more true that thou wert one:
Nothing is lost that thou didst give,
Nothing destroyed that thou hast done.

Earth hath received thine earthly part;
Thine heavenly flame has heavenward flown;
But both still linger in my heart,
Still live, and not in mine alone.

Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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