Left: Portrait of William Weightman, sketched by Charlotte in February 1840.
In late August 1842, William Weightman fell ill with cholera. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he died on 6 September. The news would have come as a great shock to Anne, who was, at that time, working some forty miles away at Thorp Green. There is little doubt that this poem, written the following December, is a love-poem to Weightman; and indeed, is the first of a series she wrote over the following five years.113 The last two verses suggest that she and Weightman had been quite close at some point. This could have been during the previous Christmas holidays, when Charlotte referred to Weightman sighing softly as he sat opposite Anne in church, and looking out of the corners of his eyes to win her attention. They may also have been enjoying each others company during Anne's summer holidays of this year.114n The poem has received little attention over the years, and its first publication only came in 1959 when it appeared in Ada Harrison's biography 'Anne Brontë - Her Life'.
(N.B: The text in red refers to the specific lines, also presented in red, in the poem below.)
Edward Chitham notes that 'the reference to the sun rising over the sea 115n is reminiscent of Anne's drawing of 13 November 1839'. It seems certain that Anne's hero, Edward Weston, in Agnes Grey, was modelled, at least partly, on William Weightman. Agnes remarks:
'. . . Mr. Weston rose at length upon me, appearing like the morning star in my horizon . . .'.
(See also: Chitham, 'The Poems of Anne Brontë', p.87 & p.175)
|I will not mourn thee, lovely one,
Though thou art torn away.
'Tis said that if the morning sun
Arise with dazzling ray
And shed a bright and burning beam
And if thy life as transient proved,
If few and short the joys of life
If vain thy earthly hopes did prove,
And yet I cannot check my sighs,
He would not pass our darling by
That angel smile that late so much
I'll weep no more thine early doom,
|'To Cowper'||'To ------'||'Lines . . in . Wood on . Windy Day'|
|Main Page||The Poems of Anne Brontë|