('Oh, they have robbed me of the hope')

Written: Unknown: possibly between 1840 & 1845.  First Published: 1847 (In Agnes Grey).

These verses appear in chapter 17 ('Confessions') of Agnes Grey (p,227 - depending on edition). It is at this point in the novel that Anne, through Agnes, tells us that many of her poems are 'pillars of witness': she writes:

'Before this time, at Wellwood House and here, when suffering from home-sick melancholy, I had sought relief twice or thrice at this secret source of consolation; and now I flew to it again with greater avidity than ever, because I seemed to need it more. I still preserve those relics of past sufferings and experience, like pillars of witness set up in travelling through the vale of life, to mark particular occurrences.'

'The footsteps are obliterated now; the face of the country may be changed; but the pillar is still there, to remind me how all things were when it was reared.'

'Lest the reader should be curious to see any of these effusions, I will favour him with one short specimen: cold and languid as the lines may seem, it was almost a passion of grief to which they owed their being.'

She then goes on to present the following poem. The poem itself was almost certainly written when Anne was at Thorp Green some years earlier, and for Anne, it was a record of her feelings for William Weightman, for Agnes it becomes a reference to Edward Weston (for details of this being a Weightman related poem, and of 'dating' it, see the suggested 'Chitham' sources below.)

(See: Chitham, 'The Poems of Anne Brontë', p.75 & p.171; and 'A Life of Anne Brontë', p.81/82)

Oh, they have robbed me of the hope
        My spirit held so dear;
They will not let me hear that voice
        My soul delights to hear.

They will not let me see that face
        I so delight to see;
And they have taken all thy smiles,
        And all thy love from me.

Well, let them seize on all they can: --
        One treasure still is mine, --
A heart that loves to think on thee,
        And feels the worth of thine.

Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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