This poem uses a lot of deep contradicting diction and oxymoron to illustrate Bronte’s state of psychological conflict after her lover’s death.
‘No other Sun has lightened up my heaven’, ‘heaven’ should not be applied to her, as she is still alive, yet it may also be implied as incredibly happy life when her lover was alive that she felt she was in ‘heaven’. This shows how happy she used to be.
In ‘indulge in Memory’s rapturous pain’, oxymoron is used. A memory is ‘rapturous’ and she ‘indulges’ in it because these memories are the only sources that brings her to her lover, yet recalling them makes her feel ‘pain’ as that makes her realize her solitude and the pain of losing her lover. This illustrates her emotional dilemma – whether to forget her lover or not.
‘Divinest anguish’ is another example of oxymoron. Her ‘anguish’ is ‘divinest’ as it reminds her of her lover again, and this tortures her. Divine is usually used to describe something which is extremely enjoyable or well, yet this is used to describe her “anguish”. The ‘anguish’ is ‘divinest’ because it makes her remember her lover and clearly stating their physical separation.
In ‘Sterner desires and darker hopes beset me’, oxymoron is used as well. ‘Desires’ should not be ‘stern’ and ‘hopes’ should not be ‘dark’. Furthermore, ‘hopes’ would not ‘beset’ a person because to “beset” is to attack from all sides or to trouble someone persistently. However, in this poem, these contradicting dictions make sense. The ‘hopes’ and ‘desires’ are ‘stern’, ‘dark’ and ‘besets’ her because they try to pull her away from her lover, trying to ‘do thee wrong’.
Through the use of descriptive imageries, Bronte brings forth symbolism. She uses winter imageries, e.g. ‘deep snow piled…’ to in keep with her emotions of frustration and despair of losing her lover. The ‘deep snow’ suggests Bronte’s long, numb silence, and her emotions have been frozen along with the snow that covers her beloved’s grave.
By describing these earthly landscapes and title, she illustrates her abstract love which is beyond everything mortal. Her love surpasses the physical level and transcends to a spiritual level where no physical contact is needed.
Through the use of winter symbolism, Bronte brings forth the changing nature of seasons, e.g. ‘fifteen wild Decembers’ that have ‘melted into spring’. This portrays an image of cyclical changes, juxtaposing her unchanging love. Despite the transformations the seasons undergoes, her love for her lover remains still and is forever.
There is repetition of the phrase ‘cold in the earth’ in the poem. She uses this phrase to link to some winter imageries in order to illustrate her bleak and dark emotions. This provides a multi-lens of viewing her lover and her own state. Literally, her lover is dead, situated in a place which is ‘cold in the earth’. Figuratively, it is about her own emotional status – her ‘life’s bliss’ is frozen together with her lover’s death, frozen deep down in the earth. And she allows her emotions to be frozen or trapped together into her lover’s grave, figuratively burying her own feelings with her lover. She is preserving her own memories in ‘cold in the earth’. The repetitions also constantly remind readers the harshness of her environment, and highlight the title.
There is a repetition of the word ‘forget’. Bronte is in a state of frustration: she wishes to forget her lover as remembering him brings her ‘rapturous pain’, on the other hand she ‘dares not’ forget him. By repeating the word ‘forget’, an irony is achieved: Bronte is actually thinking about her lover all the time, and it is unlikely that she would ever ‘forget’ him.
A repetition is also used in ‘Far, far removed’ in line 2. Through the repetition, Bronte emphasizes the ‘farness’ of her lover and her physical separation.
Lastly, in line 8, there is a repetition in ‘for ever, ever more’. This is to emphasize the fact that her love towards her love is everlasting and forever and has a dragging effect, making clear the physical distance between them.
Syntax usually refers to how words or sentences are arranged within the poem’s structure. The poem is written like a dialogue to her lover, and implies Bronte’s extremely deep love towards her lover. She questions herself the use of rhetorical questions repeatedly, e.g. ‘How could I seek the empty world again?’, where she ‘dares not’ forget her lover. Bronte writes as if her lover is still alive, right beside her. This brings forth the psychological state of confusion and contradiction she is in right now, and her sincerity. Also, her use of rhetorical question at the end of the poem is particularly skilful, as it emphasizes Bronte’s inability to reconcile her conflicts even at the very end of the poem.
Certain words in the poem is also reversed in the poem, eg. In line 25, ‘Then did I learn…’ should normally be written as ‘Then I did learn’. However, through this skilful reversal of word order, Bronte puts the emphasis on these phrases to better illustrate her point.
5. Abundant use of first person
In this poem, Bronte uses first person to recount her experiences after her lover’s death. With the use of first person, readers can get first-hand feelings of Bronte’s, without being fabricated or embellished. Her emotions are genuine and intense. This is evidenced by her addressing her lover directly, e.g. ‘thee’; and her tone is sincere, and full of longing.
By using archaic diction such ‘thee’ and ‘thine’ she also adds in archaic elements into her poem, e.g. ‘to love thee…’. This conveys how sincere and genuine she is towards her lover, and readers can feel that she is ‘yearning’ after her lover. This also adds in a certain degree of formality, indicating her respect for her lover.
She also addresses her lover directly with very heartfelt terms, e.g. ‘Sweet Love of youth’, ‘my Only Love’. This makes her feelings more intensified, and we can see that she is beseeching her lover to forgive her. She conveys her tenderness through the use of first person.
6. Other sound patterns
There is a regular rhyme scheme of ABAB in each stanza. This regularity and formality illustrates Bronte’s regular and everlasting lover for her lover.
The rhyme of ‘wave’ with ‘grave’ in the first stanza contrasts mobility with stillness, widening the scope of separation between Bronte and her beloved: Bronte is in motion, living and breathing, while her lover is in the ‘grave’, stilled, and immobile.
The rhyme of ‘pain’ with ‘again’ in the last stanza links the two words together. This suggests that Bronte has to go through the ‘Memory’s rapturous pain’ once ‘again’ when she ‘face(s) the world’ and implies that her psychological struggle may be recurrent.