Charlotte Brontë

(21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855 / Yorkshire, England)

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Life


LIFE, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall ?

Rapidly, merrily,
Life's sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily,
Enjoy them as they fly !

What though Death at times steps in
And calls our Best away ?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O'er hope, a heavy sway ?
Yet hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair !

Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2001
Edited: Sunday, March 25, 2012

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Read poems about / on: courage, despair, hope, sometimes, believe, sorrow, rain, dream, dark, death, life, spring, rose

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Comments about this poem (Life by Charlotte Brontë )

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  • Savita Tyagi (5/20/2014 9:34:00 AM)

    Wonderfully uplifting poem. Life tells us to embrace its roses and thorn together. (Report) Reply

  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (10/18/2013 9:41:00 AM)

    Life is sometimes brutally real
    And quite so often subtle and weird
    And on this roller coaster we do whirl
    Till the dark vulture comes as an unwelcome bird (Report) Reply

  • L C Vieira (5/20/2012 1:46:00 PM)

    Do I recall correctly from a biography I read years ago about the famous imaginative siblings, that she tried to publish 500 plus times, and never gave up - and then married later - and died in childbirth? She's a wonderful poet! (Report) Reply

  • Manonton Dalan (5/20/2012 9:45:00 AM)

    hmmm... i agree. make the best of it
    and keep on dreaming. who knows
    tomorrow would be better than today. (Report) Reply

  • Jean Dament (5/20/2010 3:39:00 PM)

    I enjoyed this wonderful poem describing life so well & on a positive note. She covered the whole gambit of life within her poem.

    Spiritsong (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (5/20/2010 1:07:00 PM)

    I especially enjoy the poem Life by Charlotte Bronte because she begins with those wonderful lines ‘LIFE, believe, is not a dream /So dark as sages say; ’. Charlotte insists we believe in life and boldly denies that the sages are correct in believing that life is darker than it is. The optimism of her weather metaphor about life is beautifully written. It is true that if we can survive a storm or trials in earlier years, often if we continue to work hard eventually, there is a better tomorrow.
    The sunny hours of life are a joy. Death does step in causing sorrow casting hope down at times. But hopes elastic renewal, buoyant, unconquered with golden wings strong enough to carry us, is superb imagery in this context.
    A mistake has occurred in the layout of this poem! There is an apparent planned stanza break between the lines ‘Still strong to bear us well.’ and ‘Manfully, fearlessly, ’.
    The poem is so well crafted it must be so. This break gives the perfect symmetry of four stanzas of eight, four, eight and four lines. The themes of each stanza then neatly fit into the weather metaphor of life in a day, life’s sunny hours, death seeming to win but conquered, and the exquisite encouragement of the courage theme beginning ‘Manfully, fearlessly, /The day of trial bear, ’. Such beauty and wisdom in Charlotte’s conclusion ‘For gloriously, victoriously, /Can courage quell despair! ’.
    With four stanzas of four separate themes, is revealed the deftness and clever craftsmanship of Bronte in the now apparent second and fourth stanzas, where the first and third lines of each contain the only paired adverbs in the entire poem. These being ‘Rapidly, merrily, ’ and ‘Gratefully, cheerily, ’ in the second stanza and ‘Manfully, fearlessly, ’ with the strength of ‘For gloriously, victoriously, ’ in the fourth stanza. Coincidence? Definitely not. This brilliant poet knew exactly what she was doing when writing this exceptional verse. (Report) Reply

  • Juan Olivarez (5/20/2010 11:23:00 AM)

    Wonderful poem, this woman new her grammer and how to entertain the public which is the ultimate goal of the poet. However bitter people who will never in a hundred life times do what she did in her short time upon this earth, will continue to criticize her and other great poets for no good reason, other than, she will always be well looked on by history. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (5/20/2010 6:29:00 AM)

    Very Victorian - a cheap and cheerful sermonette for the edification of the reader. There's a touch of the Patience Strong here 'Oft a little morning rain/Foretells a pleasant day.' I find it difficult to believe that there is anyone anywhere who needs to be reminded of the import of that metaphor. There is also the reverse philosophy - the Romans and the Japanese were wont to fall on their swords when things went wrong. I cannot remember Antony saying to Cleopatra when their world was collapsing round their ears 'Oft a little etc…'. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (5/20/2010 2:54:00 AM)

    Indeed life is for living! Like birth death is part of life! So, why should one fear or be sorrowful about it? Nice bold assertion and solid poem to read on that subject! (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (5/20/2009 3:32:00 AM)

    Died at 39, she captured the soul of life. Putting form a stiff upper lip and forging through life's trials. Crashes down on dreams in the beginning, giving reality the foundation of life. (Report) Reply

  • Gillena Cox (5/20/2009 3:29:00 AM)

    In life there's sunshine and there's rain, i like the message here to accept the challenges of life and deal with them (Report) Reply

  • Jane Lermontov (2/26/2009 8:26:00 AM)

    As an avid reader of all the works of the Brontes, a lifetime member of the Bronte Society and having been raised on the edge of Haworth Moor where they wrote and were inspired, I can honestly assure you that Charlotte will be giggling her heavenly crinolines off at some of these remarks! (do you think she'll be able to read them from heaven, Ron Flowers?) :) (Report) Reply

  • Ron Flowers (5/20/2008 9:04:00 PM)

    Charlotte, I really like this poem. I like the positive message. It is a poem of hope. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (5/20/2008 1:16:00 PM)

    Charlotte Bronte could expect no better were she alive today
    than the vulgar comment by Shorty and the lazy readers who
    can't take the time to read poetry and put their knowledge of
    grammar and versification to work!

    The poem 'Life' requires three stanzas if the poem is to make sense
    In the second stanza beginning 'rapidly' ends with 'they fly'! .
    The repetition of adverbs ending in -ly and the verbs 'flit by' and 'fly'
    increase the tempo. Read the brief quatrain aloud and you'll note
    how quickly it seems to move, just as the days of our life rush by.

    The third stanza introduces personification in Death and hope with
    her golden wings which are buoyant enough to carry (bear) us up
    out of our depression. Two more adverbs 'manfully' and 'fearlessly'
    emphasize that we must bear up on the inevitable day of testing
    (trial as in a court!) as courage (another personification) can defeat
    (quell) despair as brave soldiers overcome an enemy on the battlefield!

    Look back to the first stanza where the poet tells us that life is real,
    that it is not a dream, an insubstantial thing. She uses the metaphor
    of a rainy morning that soon passes, leaving flowers blooming in its
    wake, so why shed tears over a little rain? Do not believe those who
    see the dark side of life only-those wise people (sages) who are
    really blind to the true beauty of life.

    All in all, Bronte's 'Life' is a poem well worth reading and making
    an effort to understand how a poem is made! (Report) Reply

Read all 24 comments »

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