by Emily Brontë (1818 - 1848)

On a sunny brae alone I lay
Language: English 
On a sunny brae alone I lay
One summer afternoon
It was the marriage time of May
With her young lover, June.

[From her mother's heart, seemed loath to part
That queen of bridal charms,
But her father smiled on the fairest child
He ever held in his arms.]1

The trees did wave their plumy crests
The glad birds carolled clear
And I, of all the wedding guests
Was only sullen there

There was not one but wished to shun
My aspect void of cheer
[The very grey rocks, looking on,
Asked, "What do you here?"]1

And I could utter no reply
[In sooth, I did not know]1
Why I had brought a clouded eye
To greet the general glow

So resting on a heathy bank
I took my heart to me
And we together sadly sank
Into a reverie

We thought when winter comes again
Where will these bright things be?
All vanished like a vision vain
An unreal mockery

The birds that now so blithely sing
Through deserts frozen dry
Poor spectres of the perished spring
In famished troops will fly

And why should we be glad at all
The leaf is hardly green
Before a token of its fall
Is on the surface seen

Now whether it were really so
I never could be sure
But as in fit of peevish woe
I stretched me on the moor

A thousand thousand gleaming fires
Seemed kindling in the air
A thousand thousand silvery lyres
Resounded far and near

Methought the very breath I breathed
Was full of sparks divine
And all my heather couch was wreathed
By that celestial shine

And, while the wide earth echoing rung
To their strange minstrelsy
The little glittering spirits sung
Or seemed to sing to me

[Dying memories]

Oh mortal! mortal let them die
Let time and tears destroy
That we may overflow the sky
With universal joy

Let grief distract the sufferer's breast
Let night obscure his way
They hasten him to endless rest
And everlasting day

To thee the world is like a tomb
A desert's naked shore
To us in unimagined bloom
It brightens more and more

And could we lift the veil and give
One brief glimpse to thine eye
Thou wouldst rejoice for those that live
Because they live to die

The music ceased the noonday dream
Like dream of night withdrew
But fancy still will sometimes deem
Her fond creation true

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Note: in Fisk's work, this is sung by Catherine
1 omitted by Fisk


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Terry Fisk

This text was added to the website: 2004-03-22
Line count: 73
Word count: 405