Lines Inscribed on The Wall of a Dungeon in The Southern P of I
Written: December 16th. 1844.  First Published: 1915.

The early Gondal date of April 1826 (at the end of the poem) suggests that, by this time, Emily and Anne had chronicled Gondal, and were now sure of the earlier chronology. This falls in line with the suggestion, in the 1845 diary paper, that the chronicles were begun at Christmas in 1841. Alternatively, the date could be a disguise for a poem related to Anne's own experience, and there is speculation that the poem may concern Branwell; though none of this is certain. The poem may well have been written immediately on Anne's return home for Christmas from Thorp Green.

(See also: Chitham, 'The Poems of Anne Brontë', p.106 & p.182)


Though not a breath can enter here,
I know the wind blows fresh and free;
I know the sun is shining clear,
Though not a gleam can visit me.

They thought while I in darkness lay,
'Twere pity that I should not know
How all the earth is smiling gay;
How fresh the vernal breezes blow.

They knew, such tidings to impart
Would pierce my weary spirit through,
And could they better read my heart,
They'd tell me, she was smiling too.

They need not, for I know it well,
Methinks I see her even now;
No sigh disturbs her bosom's swell,
No shade o'ercasts her angel brow.

Unmarred by grief her angel voice,
Whence sparkling wit, and wisdom flow:
And others in its sound rejoice,
And taste the joys I must not know,

Drink rapture from her soft dark eye,
And sunshine from her heavenly smile;
On wings of bliss their moments fly,
And I am pining here the while!

Oh! tell me, does she never give --
To my distress a single sigh?
She smiles on them, but does she grieve
One moment, when they are not by?

When she beholds the sunny skies,
And feels the wind of heaven blow;
Has she no tear for him that lies
In dungeon gloom, so far below?

While others gladly round her press
And at her side their hours beguile,
Has she no sigh for his distress
Who cannot see a single smile

Nor hear one word nor read a line
That her beloved hand might write,
Who banished from her face must pine
Each day a long and lonely night?

Alexander April 1826


Copyright © 2000 Michael Armitage

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