The Captive Dove
Written: Spring 1842 / October 31st. 1843.  First Published: 1846.

Anne has noted on the manuscript: 'Mostly written in the spring of 1842.' Edward Chitham points out that when she came to complete the poem in October 1843, she completely recopied it out, and it is not clear what additions or alterations were made at that time. On both these occasions Anne was at Thorp Green where she was cut off from all the sources of happiness that she prized, and she identifies herself with a caged Dove. The Dove also appears in her poem 'Self Communion', where she describes herself as 'more timid than the wild wood dove' when a child. The 'caged bird' is a symbol commonly used in poetry.

There is virtually no punctuation in the manuscript - this was mostly added (as presented below) in 1846 for the poem's publication in Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.

(See also: Chitham, 'The Poems of Anne Brontë', p.92 & p.177)

Poor restless dove, I pity thee;
And when I hear thy plaintive moan,
I mourn for thy captivity,
And in thy woes forget mine own.

To see thee stand prepared to fly,
And flap those useless wings of thine,
And gaze into the distant sky,
Would melt a harder heart than mine.

In vain ­ in vain! Thou canst not rise:
Thy prison roof confines thee there;
Its slender wires delude thine eyes,
And quench thy longings with despair.

Oh, thou wert made to wander free
In sunny mead and shady grove,
And, far beyond the rolling sea,
In distant climes, at will to rove!

Yet, hadst thou but one gentle mate
Thy little drooping heart to cheer,
And share with thee thy captive state,
Thou couldst be happy even there.

Yes, even there, if, listening by,
One faithful dear companion stood,
While gazing on her full bright eye,
Thou mightst forget thy native wood.

But thou, poor solitary dove,
Must make, unheard, thy joyless moan;
The heart, that Nature formed to love,
Must pine, neglected, and alone.

Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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