Emily’s Footsteps

Periodically I think about Emily Bronte and stories about her I have read. She is my reminder of the importance of the integration of rhythm and nature, when I am working on something that is difficult. So I wrote a few paragraphs about her and uploaded 2 versions of a 17th century Irish poem presented as song:

English Version:

Gaelic Version:

After reading a number of books about her life, I felt this poem might have inspired the story she developed in Wuthering Heights; her expanded exploration of cycles.

Emily’s constant footsteps into the storms she encountered remain forever as she took the cycles of nature, of weather for the structure of her longest story. She was an observer like Proust, but because her body responded to nature outdoors, and his was tethered to his bed, her work traveled farther, extended itself out, taking as its foundation that which did not speak, was not language.

She once told a story about one of her walks on the moor.The sun had gone down and a storm had begun. She took shelter near a bog. Certain bogs lack oxygen, which is why they perfectly preserve forms of nature once living, (except for bones). And as she waited, lightning struck the bog. There was an explosion and a huge boulder was ejected from it, traveling towards the sky.

She only lived to be 30 years old. She never sought a relationship other than with her brother who was ungrounded, wild and lost; who became bitter and revengeful, then lamenting and regretful. And when he died,Emily followed him. Some have said she became ill from staying too long by his body, in the cold space where he was laid out. Was the window kept open, as was the practice for some:

“After death a window is opened to allow the spirit of the deceased to leave the house, no-one must stand or block the path to the window as this may prevent the spirit from leaving and will bring misfortune to the person who blocks the route. After two hours the window should be closed as this will prevent the spirit from re-entering.”

As illness overcame her, she refused medical treatment. She had witnessed many in her family die before her. Yet Charlotte, her sister wrote that despite her weakening state, she kept her schedule, and made it down the stairs, each morning at times barely able to walk. But finally, on the last day, when breathing became impossible, she gave in and asked to seek a doctor. But it was too late.

Still we have the words of Emily. And many of us, (mostly women) have been inspired by her life and her perceived strength; from her telling. It is not because she wrote a story of love, but because she described what love was not, leaving behind a clear trail telling the cruelty of nature, of stoicism, and love that is only part of nature, not something idealized or meant to provide escape.

written in 2013

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