The Complete Poems of Emily Brontë/O God of heaven! The dream of horror
PRIVATELY PRINTED POEMS
O God of heaven! The dream of horror,
The frightful dream is over now;
The sickened heart, the blasting sorrow,
The ghastly night, the ghastlier morrow,
The aching sense of utter woe.
The burning tears that would keep welling,
The groan that mocked at every tear,
That burst from out their dreary dwelling,
As if each gasp were life expelling,
But life was nourished by despair.
The tossing and the anguished pining,
The grinding teeth and starting eye;
The agony of still repining,
When not a spark of hope was shining
From gloomy fate's relentless sky.
The impatient rage, the useless shrinking
From thoughts that yet could not be borne;
The soul that was for ever thinking,
Till nature maddened, tortured, sinking,
At last refused to mourn.
It's over now—and I am free,
And the ocean wind is caressing me,
The wild wind from the wavy main
I never thought to see again.
Bless thee, bright Sea, and glorious dome,
And my own world, my spirit's home;
Bless thee, bless all—I cannot speak;
My voice is choked, but not with grief,
And salt drops from my haggard cheek
Descend like rain upon the heath.
How long they've wet a dungeon floor,
Falling on flagstones damp and grey:
I used to weep even in my sleep;
The night was dreadful like the day.
I used to weep when winter's snow
Whirled through the grating stormily;
But then it was a calmer woe,
For everything was drear to me.
The bitterest time, the worst of all,
Was that in which the summer sheen
Cast a green lustre on the wall
That told of fields of lovelier green.
Often I've sat down on the ground,
Gazing up to the flush scarce seen,
Till, heedless of the darkness round,
My soul has sought a land serene.
It sought the arch of heaven divine,
The pure blue heaven with clouds of gold;
It sought thy father's home and mine
As I remembered it of old.
Oh, even now too horribly
Come back the feelings that would swell,
When with my face hid on my knee,
I strove the bursting groans to quell.
I flung myself upon the stone;
I howled, and tore my tangled hair;
And then, when the first gust had flown,
Lay in unspeakable despair.
Sometimes a curse, sometimes a prayer,
Would quiver on my parchèd tongue;
But both without a murmur there
Died in the breast from whence they sprung.
And so the day would fade on high,
And darkness quench that lonely beam,
And slumber mould my misery
Into some strange and spectral dream,
Whose phantom horrors made me know
The worst extent of human woe.
But this is past, and why return
O'er such a path to brood and mourn?
Shake off the fetters, break the chain,
And live and love and smile again.
The waste of youth, the waste of years,
Departed in that dungeon thrall;
The gnawing grief, the hopeless tears,
Forget them—oh, forget them all!
August 7, 1834, E. J. B.