'Tis Strange To Think / Past Days
Written: November 21st. 1843.  First Published: 1846.

Another poem written at Thorp Green, and once again we see Anne expressing her displeasure at being so far from home: the friendship she refers to is almost certainly that between herself and Emily.

One line was changed, several punction alterations were made, and the poem was re-titled 'Past Days' for publication in Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell in 1846: both versions are presented below.

(See also: Chitham, 'The Poems of Anne Brontë', p.95 & p.178)


'Tis Strange To Think

'Tis strange to think there was a time
When mirth was not an empty name,
When laughter really cheered the heart
And frequent smiles unbidden came,
And tears of grief would only flow
In sympathy for others' woe;

When speech expressed the inward thought
And heart to kindred heart was bare,
And Summer days were far too short
For all the pleasures crowded there,
And silence, solitude and rest,
Now welcome to the weary breast,

Were all unprized, uncourted then,
And all the joy one spirit showed
The other deeply felt again,
And friendship like a river flowed,
Constant and strong its silent course,
For nought withstood its gentle force;

When night, the holy time of peace,
Was dreaded as the parting hour
When friendly intercourse must cease
And silence must resume her power,
Though ever free from pains and woes
She only brought us calm repose;

And when the blessed dawn again
Brought daylight to the blushing skies
We woke, and not reluctant then
To joyless labour did we rise,
But full of hope and glad and gay
We welcomed the returning day.


Past Days

'Tis strange to think, there was a time
When mirth was not an empty name,
When laughter really cheered the heart,
And frequent smiles unbidden came,
And tears of grief would only flow
In sympathy for others' woe;

When speech expressed the inward thought,
And heart to kindred heart was bare,
And Summer days were far too short
For all the pleasures crowded there,
And silence, solitude, and rest,
Now welcome to the weary breast --

Were all unprized, uncourted then --
And all the joy one spirit showed,
The other deeply felt again;
And friendship like a river flowed,
Constant and strong its silent course,
For nought withstood its gentle force:

When night, the holy time of peace,
Was dreaded as the parting hour;
When speech and mirth at once must cease,
And Silence must resume her power;
Though ever free from pains and woes,
She only brought us calm repose;

And when the blessed dawn again
Brought daylight to the blushing skies,
We woke, and not reluctant then,
To joyless labour did we rise;
But full of hope, and glad and gay,
We welcomed the returning day.

Acton


Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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