Whatever Our Souls Are Made Of… | A Love Letter to Emily Brontë

25 August, 2017

Whatever our souls are made of, mine and Emily Brontë’s are the same.

To say I’m an Emily Brontë fanatic is a bit of an understatement. I am practically in love with her. From when I first read Wuthering Heights, to when I discovered her Gondal poetry, she captivated me from the opening, and I am forever grateful — for her words, for her life, and for everything she has stood for in the years since her death.

There’s something almost magical about feeling close to someone there is so little information about: it allows you to fill in the gaps. My Emily may be very different to somebody else’s and I like the power that holds, the knowledge that she is mine and not quite anybody else’s. My Emily Brontë is introverted, awkward. There’s a comfort in knowing the qualities we share can be used for good: to weave fascinating stories, to hide away in fictional worlds.

Though her feeling for the people round was benevolent, intercourse with them she never sought; nor, with very few exceptions, ever experienced. And yet she knew them: knew their ways, their language, their family histories; she could hear of them with interest, and talk of them with detail, minute, graphic, and accurate; but WITH them, she rarely exchanged a word. – Charlotte Brontë

She’s also a genius, a true genius: her poetry is lyrical and wild and untamed; Wuthering Heights is dark and brooding and passionate. Her familiarity with the landscape of the Yorkshire Moors adds a deeper level to her writing, and her observation of character is second-to-none.

One of the stories I most associate with her, replicated in Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley, and shared in Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte, is that of Emily cauterising her own wound after being bitten by a dog. Bravery, fierce pride in the face of calamity, gumption: all qualities I try to replicate in myself, even if I am not always successful.

When I read Emily Brontë’s writing, about characters who don’t traditionally fit into our world, who spurn societal norms in favour of a different life, I feel like I’ve returned home. I feel like, with Emily’s help, I could conquer all.

 

With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears
Though earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And Thou wert left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee
There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.
– No Coward Soul is Mine, Emily Brontë


This was written as part of a larger post by Annabelle called Anne: the Forgotten Brontë, which can be read here. Thank you to Annabelle for inspiring me to write this!

Who are the authors you love most passionately? Share in the comments below!

 

2 Comments

  • Misha Herwin

    27 August, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    I’m with you on Emily. Wuthering Heights was a seminal book for me. And I love Charlotte’s “Shirley” which is very underrated.

  • Gill Edwards

    29 August, 2017 at 7:39 am

    I too am a massive fan of the Bronte’s and have been for 40 years or so. Emily has always been the one i can identify with although i dont like Wuthering Heights but i adore her poetry especially Holyday. I bet they never thought for a second that they would still be gathering new fans 200 years later eh?

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