By Edward Chitham
Name on backbone: Brontee evidence & Brontee difficulties.
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Additional resources for Brontë Facts and Brontë Problems
The first two verses are totally genuine, written in longing for her sister and regret at her absence; towards the end of the pair the poem moves to a vein of nostalgia for former April birdsong. In stanza 3 the poet ponders the reason for the eclipse of happiness, and in both this and stanza 4 we have a series of rhetorical questions which seem slack and vague, but do convey some sort of foreboding which might be associated with the departure of Anne for her first governess post, a kind of symbolic coming-of-age of the family.
Such extensively reworked manuscripts still extant are D3 (1839), D15 (1840), E20 (1844), B44 (1846) and B45 (1848). A description of the revision techniques used here may help to show the poet's general method. The poems will be treated chronologically. 'Come hither child' (D3) is a powerful poem, though very flawed and technically imperfect. The subject of the poem is clear: a child has been able to play affecting music, which touched the heart of a lady in such a way that the lady enquires about the origin of this gift.
Old Mr Bronte died, but the stream of visitors continued, and Mrs Gaskell, like the Bronte sisters, continued to be read. There were no further major revelations until Clement Shorter went to Ireland to coax from Charlotte's husband the drawings and scraps of poems he had hidden away, with the Bronte juvenilia, ever since his wife had died. This material was destined for the fire, but Shorter saved it. Soon the reading public became aware of a hinterland of secret Bronte writings, which were slowly released in a continuous but sluggish stream of limited editions, while every now and then there was a sale of manuscripts, duly borne away by their new owners to find a long resting place in private library or bank vault.
Brontë Facts and Brontë Problems by Edward Chitham