In Memory of a Happy Day in February
Written: Begun February - finished November 10th. 1842.   First Published: 1850.

By the end of 1841, Anne had experienced much depression while working as a governess at Thorp Green over the previous eighteen months. She would obviously not be looking forward to returning there after the Christmas holidays. Early on in 1842, Charlotte and Emily set off for Brussels to study at the Pensionnat Heger school there, leaving Anne feeling more lonely than ever. However, in February, she started this uncharacteristically cheerful poem and gave it the title 'In Memory of a Happy Day in February'. The early part of this poem - which was actually written in February (and presented here in red) is very intriguing, and one cannot help but wonder what occurred on this 'day in February' to raise her spirits so much. Edward Chitham raises the interesting question of whether it could have been another Valentine card from William Weightman.112n  Indeed, a few months earlier, in a letter to Ellen Nussey, Charlotte remarked about Weightman: 'He sits opposite to Anne at Church sighing softly - and looking out of the corners of his eyes to win her attention - and Anne is so quiet, her look so downcast - they are a picture'.

Anne completed the poem some nine months later, and under much more sombre circumstances. At this time she was at home having just attended the funeral of Aunt Branwell - the lady who had spent the previous 20 years acting as a mother to Anne. Also, William Weightman himself had died of cholera just a few months earlier. She gave the poem a much more religious-appearing tone. (This later section of the poem is presented here in black.)

(See also: Chitham, 'The Poems of Anne Brontë', p.82 & p.174)

Blessed be Thou for all the joy
        My soul has felt today!
O let its memory stay with me
        And never pass away!

I was alone, for those I loved
        Were far away from me,
The sun shone on the withered grass,
        The wind blew fresh and free.

Was it the smile of early spring
        That made my bosom glow?
'Twas sweet, but neither sun nor wind
        Could raise my spirit so.

Was it some feeling of delight,
        All vague and undefined?
No, 'twas a rapture deep and strong,
        Expanding in the mind!

Was it a sanguine view of life
        And all its transient bliss­-
A hope of bright prosperity?
        O no, it was not this!

It was a glimpse of truth divine
        Unto my spirit given
Illumined by a ray of light
        That shone direct from heaven!

I felt there was a God on high
        By whom all things were made.
I saw His wisdom and his power
        In all his works displayed.

But most throughout the moral world
        I saw his glory shine;
I saw His wisdom infinite,
        His mercy all divine.

Deep secrets of his providence
        In darkness long concealed
Were brought to my delighted eyes
        And graciously revealed.

But while I wondered and adored
        His wisdom so divine,
I did not tremble at his power,
        I felt that God was mine.

I knew that my Redeemer lived,
        I did not fear to die;
Full sure that I should rise again
        To immortality.

I longed to view that bliss divine
        Which eye hath never seen,
To see the glories of his face
        Without the veil between.

Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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