The advent of Spring, according to Emily Brontë

Why did the morning rise to break
So great, so pure a spell,
And scorch with fire the tranquil cheek

Where your cool radiance fell?

Poetry so often conflates springtime with rebirth, renaissance, hope, and the like, but Emily Brontë’s work begs to differ. The narrator of “Ah! Why, Because the Dazzling Sun” spends the poem shutting her eyes tightly (and vainly) against the “blood-red” light that “throbs with her heart” and destroys her peace. And as she says in “Fall, leaves, fall”:

I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay

Ushers in a drearier day.

Brontë’s poetry seems keenly aware of the Icarus myth: her relationship to daylight and springtime springs from an understanding that sunlight is not the product of a benign reflection, a consumptive fire.

From “Ah! Why, Because the Dazzling Sun” again:

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—
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