Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Of the Poem:
On a superficial level this poem speaks of the poet’s delight in the coming winter, where the nights are longer and snow and ‘drearier’ days shroud the landscape. It is within the midst of an autumn that the poet happily anticipates, like myself at times, the cold and snowy months to come: Every leaf speaks bliss to me / Fluttering from the autumn tree.
But one other possible meaning, a bleaker meaning, weaved tacitly through the poem, may exist.
Little is known about the last two years of Bronte's life, but what is known is that in October of 1848 her health began to falter drastically. Her brother, in the month to follow, would succumb to tuberculosis. It’s said that she was also afflicted by the illness, and that she refused all medical attention (for reasons I’m still not quite clear on) until finally, on December 19th of the same year, she would succumb to her afflictions as well.
Often in the past people have used the seasons as symbols for the diverse stages of life- spring symbolizing birth, summer adolescence, autumn late adulthood, and winter old age and death. It’s obvious that the poem is referring to a desire for winter to come (interestingly, she doesn’t ever use the word ‘winter’ at all).
Is it possible that Bronte wrote this poem indicating a desire to move on from life to death? Is it possible that her illness was too much to endure, or that her brother’s decline and death affected her terribly, or that she wanted to be ‘released’ from the crippling onslaught of so cruel a disease?
Happy date of birth, dearest poet ... you're remembered.