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Featured Poem: To Imagination by Emily Bronte

Written by jen, 26th October 2009

Lisa Spurgin, a recent graduate of the University of Liverpool, has just started a Communications Internship with The Reader Organisation.

Imagination – it’s a wonderful thing. We all possess it, can access it at any time we wish, it costs nothing unlike many other objects we use to give ourselves a emotional boost and the ‘fix’ it gives us lasts far longer than a mug of coffee or a chunk of chocolate (even the really good stuff). It’s also significant in creating the pleasure each of us get out of reading – once we really engage with a book or a poem, our imaginations are sparked and we can embark on all sorts of journeys and adventures - big and small - that we may never find time to do in reality.

A number of Emily Bronte’s poems capture and celebrate the dreamy, delicious state of imagining but To Imagination, as its title suggests, stands as a love letter or a triumphant toast to the inner world. For Bronte, imagination appears to be simultaneously within and separate from ourselves – its presence leaps from something we can merely appreciate, such as “a bright unsullied sky”, to an actual being, someone we know and who is always there for us in times of happiness or sorrow...a true friend. As the poem concludes, things step up a gear as it is declared “sure solacer of human cares”, the comforting and even healing power of imagination is fully revealed.

As someone whose mind has always been filled with near on a thousand different thoughts a day, this poem really sums up my feelings on just how precious the imagination is. I admit, having an over-active one is a hindrance at certain times but all in all, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

To Imagination

When weary with the long day's care,
And earthly change from pain to pain,
And lost, and ready to despair,
Thy kind voice calls me back again
O my true friend, I am not lone
While thou canst speak with such a tone!

So hopeless is the world without,
The world within I doubly prize;
Thy world where guile and hate and doubt
And cold suspicion never rise;
Where thou and I and Liberty
Have undisputed sovereignty.

What matters it that all around
Danger and grief and darkness lie,
If but within our bosom's bound
We hold a bright unsullied sky,
Warm with ten thousand mingled rays
Of suns that know no winter days?

Reason indeed may oft complain
For Nature's sad reality,
And tell the suffering heart how vain
Its cherished dreams must always be;
And Truth may rudely trample down
The flowers of Fancy newly blown.

But thou art ever there to bring
The hovering visions back and breathe
New glories o'er the blighted spring
And call a lovelier life from death,
And whisper with a voice divine
Of real worlds as bright as thine.

I trust not to thy phantom bliss,
Yet still in evening's quiet hour
With never-failing thankfulness I
welcome thee, benignant power,
Sure solacer of human cares
And brighter hope when hope despairs.

Emily Bronte (1818-1848)

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