‘Domestic Peace’ by Anne Brontë portrays a household’s transformation from joy to desolation. Despite unchanged external conditions, an intangible loss leaves the family yearning for harmony’s return.
The poem contemplates the fragility of happiness, the emotional impact of absence, and the longing for serenity. Through vivid imagery and symbols like the moon and fire, Brontë contrasts outward appearances with inner turmoil. The message underscores the value of peace, unity, and recognizing their worth before their absence is keenly felt.
Domestic Peace Anne BrontëWhy should such gloomy silence reign; And why is all the house so drear, When neither danger, sickness, pain, Nor death, nor want have entered here? We are as many as we were That other night, when all were gay, And full of hope, and free from care; Yet, is there something gone away.The moon without as pure and calm Is shining as that night she shone; but now, to us she brings no balm, For something from our hearts is gone.Something whose absence leaves a void,A cheerless want in every heart.Each feels the bliss of all destroyedAnd mourns the change - but each apart.The fire is burning in the grateAs redly as it used to burn,But still the hearth is desolateTill Mirth and Love with Peace return.'Twas Peace that flowed from heart to heartWith looks and smiles that spoke of Heaven,And gave us language to impartThe blissful thoughts itself had given.Sweet child of Heaven, and joy of earth!O, when will Man thy value learn?We rudely drove thee from our hearth,And vainly sigh for thy return.
Explore Domestic Peace
The poem ‘Domestic Peace’ by Anne Brontë laments the inexplicable transformation of a once joyous and harmonious household into a place of somber silence.
Despite the absence of external threats like danger, sickness, pain, death, or want, an unsettling change has taken hold. The poem reflects on the contrast between the present desolation and a happier time when the household was brimming with hope and carefree spirits.
The moon’s radiance remains as serene as that memorable night, yet it fails to provide solace. A profound emptiness pervades a void that casts a pall over every heart. The absence of an ineffable something, once a source of joy and unity, leaves each family member yearning for its return. The once-thriving warmth of the hearth now seems incomplete, awaiting the revival of Mirth, Love, and Peace.
Peace, which previously flowed freely among the hearts of the inhabitants, fostering communication and heavenly emotions, has inexplicably retreated. The poem mourns the loss of this cherished sentiment, as well as the collective joy it brought while acknowledging that each individual grieves in an isolated way. The fireplace still blazes red, reminiscent of days past, but it remains a barren emblem of domestic tranquility until the restoration of the missing elements.
Addressing Peace as a celestial child and earthly delight, the poem queries when humanity will recognize and appreciate its significance. The household inadvertently expelled Peace, and now it longs for its return in vain. The verse encapsulates the poignancy of losing a fundamental aspect of familial harmony and underscores the lasting impact of its absence.
Structure and Form
The poem ‘Domestic Peace’ by Anne Brontë is organized into six stanzas, varying in length and rhyme scheme. The majority of stanzas consist of four lines each, forming quatrains. However, the first stanza stands out with eight lines, establishing an octave. This deliberate structural choice highlights the initial state of happiness and unity in the household, followed by the subsequent transformation.
The rhyme scheme in the quatrains is ABAB, creating a rhythmic pattern that guides the reader through the verses. This consistent pattern contributes to the poem’s musicality and reinforces the notion of regularity in the domestic setting. In contrast, the first stanza employs an ABABBABA rhyme scheme, lending it a distinct rhythm that captures the initial vibrancy of the household, setting it apart from the following quatrains.
The use of an octave followed by five quatrains mirrors the evolution of the poem’s theme. The octave serves as an introduction, presenting the perplexing shift from happiness to desolation. The quatrains that follow delve deeper into the feelings of emptiness and loss, with each stanza building upon the previous one to emphasize the pervasive impact of the absence.
Through this structure, the poet guides the reader through a journey of emotions, from the expansive beginning to the compact quatrains that echo the constricted atmosphere of the household. The alternating rhyme scheme and the arrangement of stanzas contribute to the poem’s pacing and flow, enabling the reader to engage with the evolving sentiments of the family members.
‘Domestic Peace’ employs a combination of an octave and quatrains with distinctive rhyme schemes to encapsulate the transition from joy to sorrow within a household. The structure effectively mirrors the emotional trajectory of the poem, while the varied rhyme schemes enhance its rhythmic and melodic qualities.
In the poem ‘Domestic Peace’ by Anne Brontë, several themes are explored.
One prominent theme is the fragility of happiness and the transient nature of contentment. The poem reflects on how a once joyous and harmonious household has been disrupted by an unexplained change despite the absence of external hardships. This is evident in lines such as “And full of hope, and free from care; Yet, is there something gone away.”
Another theme is the emotional impact of loss and absence. The poem portrays a sense of emptiness and longing that stems from the departure of an unnamed element, causing a void within each heart. The absence of this element, which previously brought unity and bliss, is poignantly described in the lines, “For something from our hearts is gone.” This theme highlights the emotional interconnectedness of the family members.
The poem also delves into the longing for a return to peace and harmony. The title itself, “Domestic Peace,” suggests a desire for tranquility within the household. The poem laments the loss of this peace, portraying it as a cherished entity that was inadvertently pushed away. This yearning for restoration is emphasized in lines like “And vainly sigh for thy return,” indicating the family’s longing for the return of the missing serenity.
Furthermore, the poem addresses the fleeting nature of human appreciation. The persona regrets that peace was not valued when it was present and that its worth was only recognized once it was lost. This regret is articulated in the lines, “O, when will Man thy value learn? We rudely drove thee from our hearth.”
Lastly, the poem touches upon the concept of unity within a family. The initial state of joy and harmony underscores the familial bonds, but the subsequent sense of loss and isolation in each heart hints at a disconnection caused by the absence. This is exemplified in the lines, “Each feels the bliss of all destroyed And mourns the change – but each apart.”
Poetic Techniques and Figurative Language
Anne Brontë employs various poetic techniques and figurative language in ‘Domestic Peace’ to convey her message effectively.
- Imagery: One technique is imagery, where vivid descriptions paint a picture of contrasting emotions. For instance, the opening stanza uses words like “gloomy silence” and “dreary” to depict the transformation from happiness to desolation within the household.
- Symbolism: Brontë also employs symbolism to convey deeper meanings. The “moon” is symbolically used to represent the unchanging external world, contrasting with the inner turmoil of the family. It becomes a metaphor for the absence of solace, as seen in the lines, “but now, to us, she brings no balm.”
- Alliteration: This enhances the poem’s musicality and emphasis. In the lines “Sweet child of Heaven, and joy of earth!” the repetition of the “s” sound creates a soft and rhythmic quality, emphasizing the significance of the concept of peace.
- Repetition: The poet employs repetition for emphasis. The repeated phrase “something gone away” underscores the mysterious loss that the family is grappling with, amplifying the sense of emptiness.
- Paradox: The use of paradox highlights the irony of the situation. The mention of the unchanged external conditions, while something is amiss within the household, reflects the paradox of happiness vanishing in the midst of apparent normalcy.
- Enjambment: This refers to the continuation of a sentence or phrase across line breaks, thus maintaining the poem’s flow and rhythm. An example can be found in the lines “The fire is burning in the grate / As redly as it used to burn.” This technique connects the imagery seamlessly, mirroring the juxtaposition of the unchanged physical environment and the altered emotional atmosphere.
- Use of first-person perspective: Brontë’s choice of first-person perspective involves the reader in the emotional journey of the family. This personalizes the experience of loss and longing, making it relatable.
Essentially, Anne Brontë employs these techniques to convey the shifting emotions, the contrast between inner and outer worlds, and the sense of longing in ‘Domestic Peace.’ The techniques enhance the poem’s impact, making it resonate with readers on both emotional and intellectual levels.
Why should such gloomy silence reign;
And why is all the house so drear,
When neither danger, sickness, pain,
Nor death, nor want have entered here?
We are as many as we were
That other night, when all were gay,
And full of hope, and free from care;
Yet, is there something gone away.
In the first stanza of ‘Domestic Peace’ by Anne Brontë, the poet skillfully sets the tone and introduces the central theme of the poem — the enigmatic transformation of a once-happy household into one characterized by desolation and sorrow. Through her poignant description, Brontë captures the puzzling contrast between the current state of gloomy silence and the past atmosphere of joy and hope.
The stanza’s opening question, “Why should such gloomy silence reign,” immediately establishes a sense of intrigue and sets the stage for the reader’s exploration into the emotional upheaval within the household. This question not only reflects the persona’s confusion but also invites readers to ponder the reasons behind the sudden shift.
The stanza’s direct and straightforward language serves to emphasize the stark difference between the previous vibrancy of the household and its current desolation. The choice of words like “gloomy silence” and “drear” conveys a sense of emptiness and lack, highlighting the absence of the once-present cheerfulness.
Brontë’s enumeration of various adversities — “neither danger, sickness, pain, / Nor death, nor want have entered here” — emphasizes that no external sources of suffering or distress are responsible for the present state. This enumeration of negative possibilities underscores the apparent inexplicability of the situation, reinforcing the idea that something intangible is amiss.
The stanza’s emphasis on numbers — “We are as many as we were / That other night” — further draws attention to the constancy of the family composition. The contrast between the consistent number of family members and the notable change in atmosphere adds to the poem’s air of mystery.
The stanza’s concluding line, “Yet, is there something gone away,” encapsulates the crux of the stanza’s message. Here, the use of the word “something” is deliberately vague, implying an element that is difficult to define yet profoundly impactful. The phrase “gone away” carries a sense of loss and absence, encapsulating the central theme of the poem.
This stanza essentially encapsulates the initial bewilderment and contrast that form the basis of the poem. Brontë’s use of direct language, vivid imagery, enumeration, and vague terminology effectively conveys the mystery of the household’s transformation and invites readers to delve deeper into the emotional exploration that follows.
The moon without as pure and calm
Is shining as that night she shone;
but now, to us she brings no balm,
For something from our hearts is gone.
In the second stanza, the poet employs vivid imagery and symbolism to further explore the central theme of the poem — the unexplained emotional shift within the household. This stanza delves into the external world’s constancy and beauty, contrasting it with the internal sense of emptiness and loss experienced by the family.
The opening line, “The moon without as pure and calm,” establishes a juxtaposition between the unchanged external environment and the turmoil within the hearts of the family members. The moon’s purity and calmness create a sense of stability and continuity, highlighting the constancy of the natural world.
Brontë uses a simile to draw a parallel between the moon’s present appearance and its appearance on the night that marked a turning point for the household. This connection reinforces the idea that external elements remain consistent even as the emotional landscape changes. The phrase “shining as that night she shone” subtly alludes to the contrast between the remembered happiness of that night and the current sense of loss.
The moon, traditionally associated with tranquility and beauty, is used symbolically here to represent an unchanged world that stands in stark contrast to the family’s inner turmoil. The phrase “to us she brings no balm” highlights the disconnect between the moon’s external beauty and its inability to provide comfort or relief to the family.
The stanza’s concluding line, “For something from our hearts is gone,” reiterates the central message of the poem. The use of “something” once again underscores the intangibility of the loss, while the phrase “from our hearts is gone” emphasizes the emotional impact and the internal nature of the change.
Through this stanza, Brontë emphasizes the discrepancy between the unchanging beauty of the external world, represented by the moon, and the internal void within the family members. The imagery and symbolism used effectively highlight the contrast and further amplify the sense of loss and longing that pervade the poem.
Something whose absence leaves a void,
A cheerless want in every heart.
Each feels the bliss of all destroyed
And mourns the change – but each apart.
In the third stanza, Anne Brontë delves deeper into the emotional impact of the missing element that has caused a profound change within the household. Through the use of figurative language and poignant expressions, this stanza conveys the shared sense of emptiness and loss experienced by the family members.
The stanza opens with the concept of “Something whose absence leaves a void.” The use of “void” emphasizes the sense of emptiness and incompleteness that results from the missing element. This “Something” remains undefined, underscoring its intangible nature and the challenge of identifying precisely what has been lost.
The phrase “A cheerless want in every heart” encapsulates the feeling of yearning and longing that the absence of this “Something” has engendered. The use of “cheerless” conveys a sense of bleakness, suggesting that the family’s desire for this missing element cannot be fulfilled by any other means.
The stanza’s third line, “Each feels the bliss of all destroyed,” employs irony to underscore the depth of the emotional impact. The use of “bliss” in conjunction with “destroyed” highlights the stark contrast between the initial happiness and the current devastation. This contrast further amplifies the sense of loss experienced by each family member.
The concluding line, “And mourns the change – but each apart,” effectively captures the individual and collective nature of the grief. The repetition of “each” emphasizes the isolation felt by each family member as they grapple with their own unique response to the absence. The phrase “each apart” suggests a disconnect, highlighting the personal and internal nature of the mourning process.
Brontë conveys the shared emotional experience of the family members while also highlighting their individual responses. The stanza’s structure and language evoke a sense of desolation and emphasize the longing for the missing element, making the emotional impact palpable to the reader.
The fire is burning in the grate
As redly as it used to burn,
But still the hearth is desolate
Till Mirth and Love with Peace return.
In the fourth stanza of ‘Domestic Peace’ by Anne Brontë, the poet uses vivid imagery and symbolism to explore the paradox of external appearances versus internal emotions. This stanza emphasizes the persistent void within the household despite the continued physical presence of familiar elements.
The stanza begins with the image of “The fire is burning in the grate,” a familiar and comforting sight associated with warmth, light, and domesticity. This image symbolizes the continuity of daily life and the surface appearance of normalcy.
The phrase “As redly as it used to burn” adds a nostalgic touch, recalling the previous state of happiness and contentment. The use of “redly” evokes warmth and vitality, emphasizing the contrast between the outward appearance of the fire and the underlying emotional emptiness.
Brontë introduces the concept of desolation juxtaposed against the burning fire, capturing the paradox between physical presence and emotional absence. The phrase “still the hearth is desolate” highlights the stark contrast between the unchanging physical environment and the lingering sense of emptiness.
The stanza’s concluding line, “Till Mirth and Love with Peace return,” encapsulates the stanza’s message. Here, Mirth, Love, and Peace are personified as essential elements that have departed from the household. The use of “return” underscores the sense of longing and anticipation for the restoration of these qualities.
Brontë conveys the idea that the external world can continue to function normally, yet the emotional void persists. The contrast between the burning fire and the desolate hearth underscores the discrepancy between appearance and reality, reflecting the central theme of the poem. The personification of Mirth, Love, and Peace further enhances the emotional impact of the stanza as the family yearns for their return to mend the emotional rupture within the household.
‘Twas Peace that flowed from heart to heart
With looks and smiles that spoke of Heaven,
And gave us language to impart
The blissful thoughts itself had given.
In the fifth stanza, the poet explores the transformative power of Peace within the household. Through vivid imagery and sensory descriptions, this stanza highlights the profound impact of Peace on interpersonal connections and emotional well-being.
The stanza begins with the phrase “‘Twas Peace that flowed from heart to heart.” The personification of Peace as something that “flows” suggests a continuous and harmonious movement, emphasizing its dynamic influence on the family members’ emotional interactions.
The phrase “With looks and smiles that spoke of Heaven” employs visual and emotional imagery to convey the serene and heavenly atmosphere that Peace engendered. The looks and smiles are depicted as vehicles of communication that transcend words and express a sense of shared contentment and harmony.
Brontë employs synesthesia, a literary device that blends different senses when she states that Peace “gave us language to impart.” Here, Peace is personified as bestowing the ability to communicate effectively and meaningfully. The word “language” choice goes beyond mere words and encompasses a deeper understanding and emotional connection.
The stanza’s concluding line, “The blissful thoughts itself had given,” encapsulates the idea that Peace enabled the family members to communicate their joyful and positive emotions. The word “blissful” emphasizes the profound happiness that was experienced, while the phrase “itself had given” highlights the direct influence of Peace in eliciting these positive sentiments.
Brontë emphasizes the transformative role of Peace within the household. The use of sensory descriptions, personification, and synesthesia evokes a sense of tranquility and emotional richness that Peace brings to the family. This stanza underscores the significance of emotional connection and communication in fostering a harmonious environment, further reinforcing the central theme of the poem.
Sweet child of Heaven, and joy of earth!
O, when will Man thy value learn?
We rudely drove thee from our hearth,
And vainly sigh for thy return.
In the final stanza of ‘Domestic Peace’ by Anne Brontë, the poet offers a reflective commentary on the human tendency to undervalue and neglect the virtues of peace and harmony. Through a blend of metaphors and emotive language, this stanza presents a message of regret and longing while underscoring the significance of recognizing and preserving peaceful connections.
The stanza opens with the address, “Sweet child of Heaven, and joy of earth!” Peace is depicted as a celestial entity, a “child of Heaven,” and simultaneously a source of delight and happiness on Earth. This dual nature underscores its universal importance and its profound impact on human lives.
The rhetorical question “O, when will Man thy value learn?” serves as a lament for humanity’s failure to truly appreciate and embrace the value of peace. The capitalization of “Man” emphasizes the collective human race, while the question reflects the poet’s disbelief at the persistent ignorance.
The stanza’s emotional resonance is heightened by saying, “We rudely drove thee from our hearth.” The use of “rudely” conveys a sense of thoughtlessness and negligence, underscoring the idea that peace was cast aside without due consideration. This also implies that the loss was self-inflicted.
The stanza’s concluding line, “And vainly sigh for thy return,” encapsulates the underlying sentiment of longing and remorse. The word “vainly” suggests that the family’s yearning for the return of peace is in vain due to their previous neglect. This line encapsulates the poem’s central message — the recognition of the irretrievable loss and the yearning for a return to the harmonious state.
Brontë imparts a message of self-reflection and the need to value and nurture peaceful connections. The use of metaphor and emotive language evokes a sense of regret and longing while emphasizing the importance of recognizing the significance of peace before its absence is keenly felt.
The poem is so-titled because it addresses the theme of tranquility and harmony within a family setting, disrupted by an unexplained change, leaving a void in the emotional landscape.
Those of you who enjoyed this poem by Anne Brontë may also wish to explore the following other poems:
- ‘A Brave and Startling Truth’ by Maya Angelou – is a commonly quoted poem about humanity’s future. The poet alludes to the “truth” that humanity will arrive at when “we” realize we are the one true wonder of the world.
- A World Of Light’ by Elizabeth Jennings – explores the idea of dark and light and contravenes the traditional use of these two, with the light representing good and peace and the dark representing evil and negativity.
- ‘After the Winter’ by Claude McKay – is a thoughtful and beautiful poem. Its speaker looks towards the future and considers the ideal life he’ll live with his partner.