“Life” Poem by Charlotte Bronte

Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;

If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?
Rapidly, merrily,
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily
Enjoy them as they fly!
What thou death at times steps in,
And calls our best away?

What though sorrow seems to win,
O’er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are rare golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
the day trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!

About the Charlotte Bronte (Author)

Charlotte Bronte (1816-55) was a 19th century English writer whose novel Jane Eyre (1847) is considered a classic of Western literature.

she was the eldest among the three Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily and Anne) who survived into adulthood and went on to publish novels. Charlotte Bronte, like many women writers of her time, originally published her poems and novels (including Jane Eyre) under a male pseudonym (pen name)—Currer bell.

About the “Life” poem

The poem focuses on the realities of life and reminds us that we have to face moments of joy as well as sorrow, hope as well as despair in life. However, the poet urges us to have a positive attitude and not be disheartened by temporary setbacks. She encourages us to look beyond the immediate disappointments and appreciate the pleasures life has to offer. She asserts that in the battle between hope and despair may seem more powerful initially, it is hoe that will win eventually.

Outline summary for the “Life” poem

The poet narrated the poem with a very simple theme that is ‘life’. In the initial lines of the poem we get to find that she is mentioning that life is necessarily dark, and bad according to people. Throughout the first stanza she uses elements that one might consider to disagree with her.

‘’Oft a little morning rain
‘’Foretells a pleasant day’’

In the above lines the poet uses the word ‘rain’ not for nature but suggest meditation it is metaphor which means unhappiness. Why to feel unhappy looking at the rain remember that the rainy day is followed by a pleasant day.

“Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;”

The ‘clouds of gloom’ is a reference to both physical darkness and emotional unhappiness. But these are ‘transient’ i.e., temporary.

If the shower will make the roses bloom that is to open or blossom then why to lament/cry when it falls.
Rapidly, merrily, enjoy hard days as they pass quickly.

“Gratefully, cheerily
Enjoy them as they fly!”

Even in the times of adversity hope will rescue people. Initially we may feel that despair may seem more powerful, it is hope that will win eventually. Yet hope again elastic springs, undefeated, though it fell initially.

“Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well”

Poet says that life of people do float and raise. She compares problems with sea. Just as the waves float or raise to the surface of a liquid. We need to be strong to bear all troubles.

“Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair”

With all courage and fearless attitude we should face the trial and in turn we will not stop to lose hope

Questions based on poem on “Life”

  1. Examine the poet’s view of life and how it differs from conventional wisdom.
  2. Explain the attitude to life that the poet recommending.
  3. Discuss the language and tone of the poem.
  4. Describe the imagery and its effectiveness in the poem.
  5. Bring out the main argument of the poem and judge whether it is convincing.

Answers for the poem about “Life”

1 Answer. In the poem ‘’Life’’ Charlotte Bronte has a very optimistic attitude. Her thoughts and ideas differ from the general accepted theory or belief which means the conventional wisdom. Most of the wise men/sages say that life is dark and bad. But Bronte say:
’Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day’
Most of the circumstances in life are transient/temporary. We put in
we don’t have to remember the difficult times always. Instead she
suggest :
“Gratefully, cheerily
enjoy them as they fly!’’

2 Answer. The poet suggest the readers to have optimistic attitude. It is not necessary for us to follow the words of sages. Life according to her is a combination of both rainy and sunny days. The poet had used metaphor to show both pleasant and unpleasant days. When need to have courage and hope to face every phase of life.

‘’Rapidly, merrily
Life’s sunny hours flit by’’

In the concluding stanza of the poem, she tells the readers that it is the fearless attitude that will help us stand firm even in the times of adversity. And it is hope which will rescue us.

‘’what though Death at times steps in,
and calls our best sway”

Over hope there is no sway/control, as it will spring back like elastic. Undefeated and putting in the ability to float just as sea/ problems in life. One should put in all the courage to face the day of trial.

3 Answer. The language and tone of the poem is subtle(precise). As the title so is the theme and the stanzas. Though the poet had used metaphor for various phases of life as an indication of pleasant or unpleasant moments. Using nature for illustration
made the readers understand her point of view easily. The beginning line of the poem where she says:

‘’Life, believe, is not a dream’’
At the initial point the statement makes the reader think that her view is conventional. But as we continue to read further we understand her perception. It is true that we can’t set back our thoughts to the rainy day/unhappiness.

’Foretells a pleasant day’

No time phase in our life can predict our future. It is our hope which will help us look beyond disappointment and appreciate the pleasures life has to give.

4 Answer. The word imagery means visual images. And these images are very effective in the poem. And the tone of the poet is filled with hope. In every line and stanza of the poem she constantly reminds the readers that the battle between hope and despair we all time feel that despair takes the first position.

That is the reason why she began the poem saying that life is not a dream. And at the same time she doesn’t believe in the words of wise men too. To mention these phrases in the poem she used words relating to nature like:

‘’0ft a little morning rain’’/ reference to difficult times

‘’Sometimes there are clouds of gloom”/ reference to both physical darkness and emotional unhappiness

‘’But these are transient all’’/ reference to temporary troubles

‘’Life’s sunny hours flit by’’/ reference to enjoy bright cheerful days as they pass.

5 Answer. The main argument of the poem is to have be optimistic rather than pessimistic. To have hope instead of despair.

Yes, the poem is convincing. The poet exemplifies the poem to life. With her writing she made the readers analyse about life. Various examples depicted from nature added extra feature to the poem. Figures of speech i.e., metaphor created images.

The poem divided into three parts or stanzas has its own meaning convincing her perception. At a point as readers we may feel arduous/ difficult to understand images relating to nature as a reference to life. But, words like rapidly, merrily, gratefully, cheerily, enjoy made the further lines easy understanding.

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