Acton – A Study of the Bells, Part III

Acton Bell

In today’s final blog post in the string of entries about the poetry of the Brontë sisters, I’ll investigate the works of youngest sibling Acton Bell (aka Anne Brontë). My reading of the first text ever published by the Brontë sisters, Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, has significantly informed my understanding of and appreciation for their other texts. It is obvious that each sister had her own distinct authorial voice and style, and this is no more evident than in Anne’s poems. Anne’s poems are a bit more juvenile, a tad childish, and the overall subject matter is lighter and simpler. Although her articulation of emotions and scenes is lovely, at times the best word I could use to describe her poems was cute. She is clearly the youngest sibling, and it seems like her skills were just developing at this time; she was growing as a writer and she was working on channeling a bit more edge in her voice, which does eventually come through in her final novel The Tennant of Wildfell Hall.

Home = all three of the Brontë sisters were very attached to their home, and AB reflects on this while a governess (very autobiographical).

Music on Christmas Morning = from the title, AB’s subject seems lighter, simpler and more childish; in truth, the poem deals with melancholy and sadness in an otherwise joyful season.

= AB uses capitalization A LOT = her emphasis seems heavy-handed and obvious.

= AB’s poems are sweet, but they are not as poignant or memorable as her sisters’.

To Cowper = for a poet; AB’s subjects are more obvious, less veiled and metaphorical.

The Doubter’s Prayer = closer to EB’s reflections on religion.

The Elect = more intellectual, controversial, and highly critical of religious ideologies.

Lines Composed In a Wood on a Windy Day = only word I can think of to describe this is CUTE. Same sentiment for The Captive Dove.

Views of Life = “Or not enjoy a smiling sky, / because a tempest may be near?”

Appeal = short but so sad!

My Favourite Poem of AB’s Collection

A Reminiscence = very telling given AB’s biography and her possible affection for former curate at the Brontë Parsonage, William Weightman.

= very sweet and romantic.

= a more optimistic take on death than in any of EB’s poems.

It is interesting that I’ve quoted less actual lines from Anne’s poetry than from both Charlotte and Emily’s poems. It seems that her poetry left a less profound impact on me while reading, and the lines were less profound, unique and memorable. However, her sentiments were lovely all the same, if less sophisticated and lofty!

To give some final thoughts on the works of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, it is somewhat baffling to me that any readers of their texts during the Victorian era believed them to be men. I find their words to sound distinctly feminine, with perhaps the exception of Emily who occasionally slips into a masculine mood. Maybe this is my modern perspective coming through in my reading, but the poems are full of such grace and are so heavily focused on love and affection for men. They are captivating and quite haunting, and I would recommend that any true lover of the Brontës read this original published text, as it gives remarkable insight into the real lives and preoccupations of such formidable and famous women!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

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