Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WRITTEN IN ASPIN CAVE, by EMILY JANE BRONTE



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WRITTEN IN ASPIN CAVE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: How do I love on summer nights
Last Line: Earth's children should not frown --
Alternate Author Name(s): Bell, Ellis
Variant Title(s): Written In Aspin Castle


How do I love on summer nights
To sit within this Norman door
Whose sombre portal hides the lights
Thickening above me evermore!

How do I love to hear the flow
Of Aspin's water murmuring low
And hours long listen to the breeze
That sighs in Rockden's waving trees

Tonight, there is no wind to wake
One ripple on the lonely lake --
Tonight the clouds subdued and grey
Starlight and moonlight shut away

'Tis calm and still and almost drear
So utter is the solitude;
But still I love to linger here
And form my mood to nature's mood --

There's a wild walk beneath the rocks
Following the bend of Aspin's side
'Tis worn by feet of mountain-flocks
That wander down to drink the tide

Never by cliff and gnarled tree
Wound fairy path so sweet to me
Yet of the native shepherds none
In open day and cheerful sun
Will tread its labyrinths alone

Far less when evening's pensive hour
Hushes the bird and shuts the flower
And gives to Fancy magic power
O'er each familiar tone.

For round their hearths they'll tell the tale
And every listener swears it true
How wanders there a phantom pale
With spirit-eyes of dreamy blue --

It always walks with head declined
Its long curls move not in the wind
Its face is fair -- divinely fair;

But brooding on that angel brow
Rests such a shade of deep despair
As nought divine could ever know

How oft in twilight lingering lone
I've stood to watch that phantom rise
And seen in mist and moonlit stone
Its gleaming hair and solemn eyes

The ancient men in secret say
'Tis the first chief of Aspin grey
That haunts his feudal home

But why, around that alien grave
Three thousand miles beyond the wave --
Where his exiled ashes lie
Under the cope of England's sky --
Doth he not rather roam?

I've seen his picture in the hall;
It hangs upon an eastern wall
And often when the sun declines
That picture like an angel shines --

And when the moonbeam chill and blue
Streams the spectral windows through
That picture's like a spectre too --

The hall is full of portraits rare;
Beauty and mystery mingle there --
At his right hand an infant fair
Looks from its golden frame --

And just like his its ringlets bright
Its large dark eye of shadowy light
Its cheek's pure hue, its forehead white
And like its noble name --

Daughter divine! and could his gaze
Fall coldly on thy peerless face?
And did he never smile to see
Himself restored to infancy?

Never part back that golden flow
Of curls, and kiss that pearly brow
And feel no other earthly bliss
Was equal to that parent's kiss?

No; turn towards the western side
There stands Sidonia's deity!
In all her glory, all her pride!
And truly like a god she seems
Some god of wild enthusiast's dreams
And this is she for whom he died!
For whom his spirit unforgiven,
Wanders unsheltered shut from heaven
An outcase for eternity --

Those eyes are dust -- those lips are clay --
That form is mouldered all away
Nor thought, nor sense, nor pulse, nor breath
The whole devoured and lost in death!

There is no worm, however mean,
That living, is not nobler now
Than she -- Lord Alfred's idol queen
So loved -- so worshipped long ago --

O come away! the Norman door
Is silvered with a sudden shine --
Come leave these dreams o'er things of yore
And turn to Nature's face divine --

O'er wood and wold, o'er flood and fell
O'er flashing lake and gleaming dell
The harvest moon looks down

And when heaven smiles with love and light
And earth looks back so dazzling bright
In such a scene, on such a night
Earth's children should not frown --





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