November 11, 2003

This makes little sense [Filed under: Auden, W.H..Brontë, Emily.General Discussion]

If one can abide stars that are simply points of light, inert things that don’t watch us and are no kind of companion—and certainly this is what we all believe nowadays—one can learn to adjust to an empty sky. An empty sky is awfully beautiful, too, and, moreover, reminds us that we are the more loving ones—the only ones who love. That is something of a distinction. Bronte would never adjust… but she is lost in her fantasy: could the dark of her pillow really be a surrogate for the washed out stars? Auden is more cynical. There is no difference between day and night if stars are not the sort to give a damn.

But maybe there is a difference… the daily washout of the stars by the blood-red sun doesn’t faze Auden while the total dark sublime would take (him) a little getting used to. I think Mike is right to wonder persistently about that last line. I feel strongly that we are meant to read ‘a little time’ as ‘a hell of a lot of time.’ So which is it—“no worries, man, the stars are just pretty lights anyway” or “this might take a good long while.” Maybe Auden is as susceptible to fantasy as Bronte. I know I am.

November 10, 2003

More Frosty Stars [Filed under: Brontë, Emily.Frost, Robert]

Fireflies in The Garden

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.


Ah! why, because the dazzling sun
Restored our Earth to joy,
Have you departed, every one,
And left a desert sky?

All through the night, your glorious eyes
Were gazing down in mine,
And, with a full heart’s thankful sighs,
I blessed that watch divine.

I was at peace, and drank your beams
As they were life to me;
And revelled in my changeful dreams,
Like petrel on the sea.

Thought followed thought, star followed star
Through boundless regions on;
While one sweet influence, near and far,
Thrilled through, and proved us one!

Why did the morning dawn to break
So great, so pure a spell;
And scorch with fire the tranquil cheek,
Where your cool radiance fell?

Blood-red, he rose, and arrow-straight,
His fierce beams struck my brow;
The soul of nature sprang, elate,
But mine sank sad and low.

My lids closed down, yet through their veil
I saw him, blazinig, still,
And steep in gold the misty dale,
And flash upon the hill.

I turned me to the pillow, then,
To call back night, and see
Your words of solemn light, again,
Throb with my heart, and me!

It would not do—the pillow glowed,
And glowed both roof and floor;
And birds sang loudly in the wood,
And fresh winds shook the door;

The curtains waved, the wakened flies
Were murmuring round my room,
Imprisoned there, till I should rise,
And give them leave to roam.

O stars, and dreams, and gentle night;
O night and stars, return!
And hide me from the hostile light
That does not warm, but burn;

That drains the blood of suffering men;
Drinks tears, instead of dew;
Let me sleep through his blinding reign,
And only wake with you!