No Coward Soul is Mine
No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.
O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life — that in me has rest,
As I — Undying Life — have power in Thee!
Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,
To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.
With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.
Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.
There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou — Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.
Emily Bronte (1818 – 1848)
According to Charlotte Bronte, these were the last lines written by her sister.
A very powerful personal declaration of her understanding of life and God … and in no uncertain terms! The second stanza in particular affirms her internal knowledge in the context of an eternal connectivity … and a connectivity that can never be broken … declared emphatically in the last line.
The third stanza negates the conventional institutional religion of her day. She was brought up in the small parsonage at Haworth and would be well versed in religion. Two strong similes (withered weeds, and froth on the main (ocean). She breaks through the constrictions of ordinary life … the freeing of the spirit against convention.
The fifth stanza emphasing the creativity of life … by one who had great creativity herself (Wuthering Heights) … as well as passion.
When I read this poem at a poetry meeting … one fellow said ‘nailing your flag to the mast’ … what an apt expression … appropriate task for one nearing death.