February is drawing to a close, but for most of the country the days are still too short and the nights far too long. Each morning, the sun makes a feeble attempt to peek through the clouds only to quickly scurry back again, leaving cold and frost to overtake the evenings once more. A heavy blanket of snow covers the ground, and though I know spring is right around the corner, the never-ending chill in my hands and feet tell a different story.
During these icy winter nights, I find that calling upon memories of warmer seasons helps to soothe the soul and remind me that the crocuses and daffodils will be breaking free of the frozen ground any day now. The author Charlotte Bronte seemed to share this sentiment when she penned this poem nearly 170 years ago:
We take from life one little share, And say that this shall be A space, redeemed from toil and care, From tears and sadness free.
And, haply, Death unstrings his bow, And Sorrow stands apart, And, for a little while, we know The sunshine of the heart.
Existence seems a summer eve, Warm, soft, and full of peace, Our free, unfettered feelings give The soul its full release.
A moment, then, it takes the power To call up thoughts that throw Around that charmed and hallowed hour, This life’s divinest glow.
But Time, though viewlessly it flies, And slowly, will not stay; Alike, through clear and clouded skies, It cleaves its silent way.
Alike the bitter cup of grief, Alike the draught of bliss, Its progress leaves but moment brief For baffled lips to kiss
The sparkling draught is dried away, The hour of rest is gone, And urgent voices, round us, say, “'Ho, lingerer, hasten on!”
And has the soul, then, only gained, From this brief time of ease, A moment’s rest, when overstrained, One hurried glimpse of peace?
No; while the sun shone kindly o’er us, And flowers bloomed round our feet,— While many a bud of joy before us Unclosed its petals sweet,—
An unseen work within was plying; Like honey-seeking bee, From flower to flower, unwearied, flying, Laboured one faculty,—
Thoughtful for Winter’s future sorrow, Its gloom and scarcity; Prescient to-day, of want to-morrow, Toiled quiet Memory.
’Tis she that from each transient pleasure Extracts a lasting good; ’Tis she that finds, in summer, treasure To serve for winter’s food.
And when Youth’s summer day is vanished, And Age brings Winter’s stress, Her stores, with hoarded sweets replenished, Life’s evening hours will bless.
What do you, dear reader, most look forward to about spring’s soon return? What fond memories have kept you warm these long winter months? Or have you been enjoying a temperate climate all year-round?
Charlotte Bronte is best known for writing the classic Jane Eyre in 1846. This poem was also written in 1846, under her nom de plume, Currer Bell.
Alisa Williams serves as Spectrum’s Spirituality Editor.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6662