The Night of Storms Has Passed: A Ghostly Poem by Emily Brontë

Emily Bronte

On a recent visit to The Morgan Library in New York City, I spotted a tiny autograph manuscript of the poem “The Night of Storms has Passed” by Emily Brontë, dated June 10, 1837. In tiny, barely legible script on a card perhaps 3 by 4 inches, it was written shortly before her nineteenth birthday. Remaining unpublished in her lifetime, it has since been included in collected poems by Emily, perhaps the most inscrutable of the Brontë sisters. The text accompanying the poem read as follows:

A Graveyard Wail by the Teenage Emily Brontë

“A month before she turned nineteen, Emily Brontë wrote this poem about a ghost that opens its lips to emit a lament that mixes eerily with the sound of the wind. She copied an earlier draft, fitting fifty-eight lines onto a scrap a little smaller than an index card. In 1846, when she and her sisters self-published a book of poetry (choosing male pseudonyms to mask their identity), Brontë chose not to include this composition, it remained unpublished in her lifetime.”

The poem has been occasionally included in posthumous collections of Brontë poetry, but is still a rather buried treasure from the pen of Emily Brontë.


The Night of Storms Has Passed by Emily Bronte

You might also like: The Brontë Sisters’ Path to Publication


The Night of Storms Has Passed by Emily Brontë

The night of storms has past
The sunshine bright and clear
Gives glory to the verdant waste
And warms the breezy air

And I would leave my bed
Its cheering smile to see
To chase the visions from my head
Whose forms have troubled me

In all the hours of gloom
My soul was wrapt away
I dreamt I stood by a marble tomb
Where royal corpses lay
It was just the time of eve

When parted ghosts might come
Above their prisoned dust to grieve
And wail their woeful doom
And truly at my side

I saw a shadowy thing
Most dim and yet its presence there
Curdled my blood with ghastly fear
And ghastlier wondering

My breath I could not draw
The air seemed ranny*
But still my eyes with maddening gaze
Were fixed upon its fearful face
And its were fixed on me …

I fell down on the stone
But could not turn away
My words died in a voiceless moan
When I began to pray

And still it bent above
Its features full in view
It seemed close by and yet more far
Then this world from the farthest star
That tracks the boundless blue

Indeed ’twas not the space
Of earth or time between
But the sea of death’s eternity
The gulf o’er which mortality
Has never never been

O bring not back again
The horror of that hour
When its lips opened
And a sound
Awoke the stillness reigning round
Faint as a dream but the Earth shrank
And heavens lights shivered
‘Neath its power

 

* In some transcriptions of this poem, the word is “uncanny,” though it’s difficult to know which, if either, word was intended by Emily Brontë.


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