Anne Brontë, sister of Charlotte Brontë and Emily Brontë, was born in Thornton, Yorkshire. She was the youngest of six children of Patrick and Maria Brontë, and educated largely at home. After the death of her mother in 1821, and two other children, Maria (d. 1825) and Elizabeth (d. 1825), Anne was left with her sisters and brother to the care of their father. Other members of the family were Elizabeth Branwell, a Calvinist aunt, and the family servant, Tabitha Aycroyd, who knew many folk-tales. The girls’ most effective education was at the Haworth parsonage, in which Mr. Brontë settled the year before his wife’s death. They read the Bible, Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron, Scott, and many others, and examined articles from Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Fraser’s Magazine, and The Edinburgh Review. Best known for her novels Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848), Anne also wrote and published hundreds of poems, many of which celebrate the seasons, like the meditation below on English summer.
- Brightly the sun of summer shone
Green fields and waving woods upon,
And soft winds wandered by;
Above, a sky of purest blue,
Around, bright flowers of loveliest hue,
Allured the gazer’s eye.
But what were all these charms to me,
When one sweet breath of memory
Came gently wafting by?
I closed my eyes against the day,
And called my willing soul away,
From earth, and air, and sky;
That I might simply fancy there
One little flower–a primrose fair,
Just opening into sight;
As in the days of infancy,
An opening primrose seemed to me
A source of strange delight.
Sweet Memory! ever smile on me;
Nature’s chief beauties spring from thee;
Oh, still thy tribute bring
Still make the golden crocus shine
Among the flowers the most divine,
The glory of the spring.
Still in the wallflower’s fragrance dwell;
And hover round the slight bluebell,
My childhood’s darling flower.
Smile on the little daisy still,
The buttercup’s bright goblet fill
With all thy former power.
For ever hang thy dreamy spell
Round mountain star and heather bell,
And do not pass away
From sparkling frost, or wreathed snow,
And whisper when the wild winds blow,
Or rippling waters play.
Is childhood, then, so all divine?
Or Memory, is the glory thine,
That haloes thus the past?
Not ALL divine; its pangs of grief
(Although, perchance, their stay be brief)
Are bitter while they last.
Nor is the glory all thine own,
For on our earliest joys alone
That holy light is cast.
With such a ray, no spell of thine
Can make our later pleasures shine,
Though long ago they passed.
“Memory” is reprinted from Poems By Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1848.