Emily Brontë by Ted Hughes

The wind on Crow Hill was her darling.
His fierce, high tide in her ear was her secret.
But his kiss was fatal.

Through her dark Paradise ran
The stream she loved too well
That bit her breast.

The shaggy sodden king of that kingdom
Followed through the wall
And lay on her love-sick bed.

The curlew trod her womb.

The stone swelled under her heart.

Her death is a baby-cry on the moor.

 

© Ted Hughes

I’m currently reading Wuthering Heights for the first time and I can’t even tell you how much I’m reveling in it. I just adore Emily Brontë’s beautiful use of language and especially the use of the Yorkshire moors as a strong motif for the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff and as its coming up to what would be Brontë’s 196th birthday I thought there would be no better subject for today’s post (I’ve been so rubbish at the whole daily thing recently…but once school’s over I’ll get back to it properly). I came across this poem by Hughes and really loved the way that he intertwines Brontë herself with the setting of the moors that she loved so dearly.

Hughes really treats Brontë and the moors as two interacting characters, personifying the moors – quite violently – with ‘the stream she loved too well / that bit her breast’ which perhaps gives the impression that Hughes recognizes the dangers in becoming too consumed by one’s environment. ‘The wind…was her darling’, but this wind is personified through the use of the personal pronoun ‘his’, and Hughes depicts this male wind as ‘fierce’ and surrounding the female Brontë, and along with the stream that bites her breast, we feel a sense of attack and threat against femininity. She loved this stream ‘too well’, perhaps ‘too well’ for her own good. Her sister Charlotte once said “My sister Emily loved the moors . . . They were more to her than a mere spectacle; they were what she lived in and by, as much as the wild birds; their tenants, or the heather, their produce . . . She found in the bleak solitude many and dear delights . . .” Emily lived in the moors in the same way that the wild birds did and even the heather. She was at one with that place and chose it as the place for her to ‘lay on her love-sick bed’ and immerse herself in Cathy and Heathcliff’s romance, with ‘stone swelled under her heart.’

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