Mirth And Mourning
Written: July 15th. 1846.  First Published: 1902.

Though evidence suggests that most of this poem was written the previous year, it was completed shortly after Agnes Grey had been sent, along with Charlotte's The Professor, and Emily's Wuthering Heights, on its rounds of the publishers. The poem carries the same title as chapter 18 in Agnes Grey, though there is little similarity between the content of the two: in Agnes Grey, Agnes is summoned home on the death of her father just as she is enjoying a happy afternoon with Weston. The poem presents the dialogue between a happy and a sad speaker, where 'Zerona' is mourning her lover and her companion tries to cheer her.

Edward Chitham suggest that there is a slight possibility that the poem is based on a conversation which took place between Anne and Emily, who may be supposed to be mourning in sympathy with Branwell.

(See also: Chitham, 'The Poems of Anne Brontë', p.130 & p.190)

'O cast away your sorrow; --
            A while, at least, be gay!
If grief must come tomorrow,
            At least, be glad today!

'How can you still be sighing
            When smiles are everywhere?
The little birds are flying
            So blithely through the air;

'The sunshine glows so brightly
            O'er all the blooming earth;
And every heart beats lightly, --
            Each face is full of mirth.'

'I always feel the deepest gloom
            When day most brightly shines:
When Nature shows the fairest bloom,
            My spirit most repines;

'For, in the brightest noontide glow,
            The dungeon's light is dim;
Though freshest winds around us blow,
            No breath can visit him.

'If he must sit in twilight gloom,
            Can I enjoy the sight
Of mountains clad in purple bloom,
            And rocks in sunshine bright? --

'My heart may well be desolate, --
            These tears may well arise
While prison wall and iron grate
            Oppress his weary eyes.'

'But think of him tomorrow,
            And join your comrades now; --
That constant cloud of sorrow
            Ill suits so young a brow.

'Hark, how their merry voices
            Are sounding far and near!
While all the world rejoices
            Can you sit moping here?'

'When others' hearts most lightly bound
            Mine feels the most oppressed;
When smiling faces greet me round
            My sorrow will not rest:

'I think of him whose faintest smile
            Was sunshine to my heart,
Whose lightest word could care beguile
            And blissful thoughts impart;

'I think how he would bless that sun,
            And love this glorious scene;
I think of all that has been done,
            And all that might have been.

'Those sparkling eyes, that blessed me so,
            Are dim with weeping now;
And blighted hope and burning woe
            Have ploughed that marble brow.

'What waste of youth, what hopes destroyed,
            What days of pining care,
What weary nights of comfort void
            Art thou condemned to bear!

'O! if my love must suffer so --
            And wholly for my sake --
What marvel that my tears should flow, --
            Or that my heart should break!'


Copyright © 2000 Michael Armitage

  'Monday Night' 'Mirth And Mourning' Untitled ('Weep Not')   
   Main Page    The Poems of Anne Brontë
7  -  December  -  00   
Mick Armitage (e-mail)