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Bronte’s Night Wind
Bronte’s Night Wind
examination of poetry must include an understanding of the voice of the
poet. Each poem has a unique voice that
reflects the attitude and thoughts of the writer. The choice of words, the
patterns of speech, and the specific structures of the poems all have an effect
upon the way in which a poem comes across.
Any two authors, given the same subject, will create very different
poems. For Emily Bronte, the subject of Night
Wind, is a conversation between herself and the temptations of the peaceful
winds that blow through her open window. It is a poem of life and of the
constancy of the flow of life. The wind, which ‘speaks’ to the author, is the
hint of the peaceful hereafter, it is the temptation to walk through an almost
mystical forest, and it is the temptation to leave everything behind. The
author, however, expresses her desire to remain in control and to not give into
the gentle wind. She is sure of herself, but at the same time is closed up in
her room, and therefore not willing to go out into the night. The voice that
Bronte uses in this poem is quite different from that of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s
Ode to the West Wind. In this poem,
there is a love that exists between the author and the wind. Shelley’s poem is
much longer and of a different structure than that of Bronte’s. It is a very
good poem that gives the reader a sense of the wind of life that blows through
everything. What these poems express is the beauty of what John Ruskin calls
the beauty of the “untrue”. These poems speak to us in a way that most other
art can’t. They express their message through a fiction that we want to be
true. We cannot talk to the wind, and the wind truly carries nothing with it
other than air. But we can understand that the wind is like our soul.
Night Wind is a significant poem that
represents the author’s desire to keep herself from the temptations of freedom.
The night wind offers her a peaceful walk through a quiet and gentle forest.
She refuses, instead telling the wind that she is not interested in the
temptation. The wind responds by telling her that it will always be there, and
will finally feel very sad when she is gone. The voice that Bronte uses in this
poem is quiet but assertive. The wind is like the course of life itself. It is
always there and, when embraced, it is a comfort, even in the dark forest. But, even though there is no threat, Bronte
confirms that she is able to live her own life. Shelley’s poem, on the other
hand, is quite different. Images of disorderly blown leaves makes the West Wind
something unpredictable. Shelley’s wind is also an image of life, but seems to
be more difficult to manage. Where Bronte’s words give the impression that she
can actually act without the wind, Shelley gives in to the wind, letting it
take him wherever it wants to go. Shelley begs with the wind to hear him, while
Bronte openly, but gently, defies the wind, showing that she is in control. The
result in both poems is that the authors’ choice of words indicates a very
different relationship with life and the wind.
John Ruskin points out in his essay “Form of the Pathetic Fallacy”, the poems
are a representation of the absurd being believable. The wind, of course,
cannot be controlled, any more than life can be. But, in creating the possibility
that the author may exert some control over the wind, the authors try to show
their own understanding of life. Bronte seems to see life as being a decision
on the part of the person. She recognizes that the winds of life are always
there, but that she is able to act without the wind’s permission. Shelley, on the other hand, seems to think
that he is unable to be in control at all. He shows this by begging the wind to
hear his pleas.
of these poems represent a different voice. They both look at the author’s view
on the level of control they have in life. Where Bronte feels that she can tell
life when and when it cannot tell her what to do, Shelley feels that he has no
choice but to do what life tells him. In both poems, the wind is a representation
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Ode to the West Wind, Percy Bysshe Shelley, English literature, John Ruskin, British poetry
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