This is it: the final week of Poetry Summer! My friend Brian and I–and many of you–have memorized a poem every week this summer. It’s been an awesome experience, and I’ve learned a lot; not only have I become much better at memorizing, but I’ve come to appreciate the poems so much more through the process.
I’m going to finish the summer like I began it, with a poem from my literature-crush, Emily Bronte. Stuff like “High-Waving Heather” and WUTHERING HEIGHTS made me love her writing, but the poem that made me love her, as a person and as a writer, was “Plead for Me,” a breathless, almost desperate poem about her choice to become an artist. Bronte’s work has a raw quality to it, a sense of boundless passion roiling just under the surface, and that’s a feeling a lot of writers can relate to: that your words and thoughts and stories are trying to claw their way out, and you are simultaneously excited to be writing and helpless to do anything else. Did you choose to be a writer, or did writing choose you? Bronte captures this perfectly by calling her art “My slave, my comrade, and my king;” she finishes by saying that in art “faith cannot doubt, no hope despair, for my own soul can grant my prayer.” As creators, we can create anything we want, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The poem is practically a manifesto to the joy and pain and inevitability of art, and I can’t think of a better way to end the summer.
I’ll put the full text at the end of the post for those who want to read it, but first: an announcement! Remember the ebook I talked about a few weeks ago? Well it’s done, and it’s ready to go, and I’m launching it this Wednesday. If you know what it’s called you can actually already find it online, but don’t buy it yet–we’re trying to focus as many sales as possible on Wednesday itself, to spike the book’s ranking on Amazon and B&N and iBooks. So: prepare yourself now! Gather your friends and prime your credit cards. There is an extremely silly horror novel coming soon to an ereader near you.
Check back Wednesday for more info, and watch this space. In the meantime, here’s the poem:
PLEAD FOR ME, by Emily Bronte
Oh, thy bright eyes must answer now,
When Reason, with a scornful brow,
Is mocking at my overthrow!
Oh, thy sweet tongue must plead for me
And tell why I have chosen thee!
Stern Reason is to judgment come,
Arrayed in all her forms of gloom:
Wilt thou, my advocate, be dumb?
No, radiant angel, speak and say,
Why I did cast the world away.
Why I have persevered to shun
The common paths that others run;
And on a strange road journeyed on,
Heedless, alike of wealth and power–
Of glory’s wreath and pleasure’s flower.
These, once, indeed, seemed Beings Divine;
And they, perchance, heard vows of mine,
And saw my offerings on their shrine;
But careless gifts are seldom prized,
And MINE were worthily despised.
So, with a ready heart, I swore
To seek their altar-stone no more;
And gave my spirit to adore
Thee, ever-present, phantom thing–
My slave, my comrade, and my king.
A slave, because I rule thee still;
Incline thee to my changeful will,
And make thy influence good or ill:
A comrade, for by day and night
Thou art my intimate delight,–
My darling pain that wounds and sears,
And wrings a blessing out from tears
By deadening me to earthly cares;
And yet, a king, though Prudence well
Have taught thy subject to rebel
And am I wrong to worship where
Faith cannot doubt, nor hope despair,
Since my own soul can grant my prayer?
Speak, God of visions, plead for me,
And tell why I have chosen thee!