Fall, Leaves, Fall by Emily Brontë

It seems that nature is always a reliable topic to write a good poem about. The natural world can be a source of undying inspiration to the creators for any art form. Some might argue it is a better topic explored through visual imagery — but poems like Emily Brontë’s Fall, Leaves, Fall explore powerful enough visual themes that it requires no images at all. What’s more, the use of poetry as an art form for natural descriptions allows the poem to take on a more personal theme. In this way, Brontë can express herself as well as the world around her, and create a poem with significant emotional depth despite its brevity.


Fall, Leaves, Fall Analysis

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

Lengthen night and shorten day;

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow

Blossom where the rose should grow;

I shall sing when night’s decay

Ushers in a drearier day.

Of the many themes present in Fall, Leaves, Fall, nature is surely the most noticeable one. For the narrator of the piece, presumably a voice for Brontë’s consciousness, the transition from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice is one of the best times of the year, when the days grow increasingly shorter, and the nights, of course, grow longer. In each line of the two quatrains, Brontë’s word choice emphasizes her own emotional connection to the season, and its own unique beauty, even as she describes such occurrences as the death of leaves and other plants due to increasing cold.

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

Lengthen night and shorten day;

The first two lines read almost as an invocation, a chant — as though the speaker is petitioning winter to come faster. They want the leaves to fall, they want the flowers to go away. The repetition of “fall” and not of “die” is an interesting choice that emphasizes the changing season over the actual dying of the natural phenomena. They do not want winter to come so the flowers can die, but will it for the falling of leaves and the lengthening of the night. This speaks to the emotional makeup of the speaker — since most people sleep during the night, it hardly seems to matter which is shorter in a practical sense. In an emotional sense, it makes perfect sense to care about whether it is light or dark outside purely as a statement of self. This seems to be the meaning intended here.

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

The use of personification here brings the speaker’s perspective into the leaves so often associated with the fall season. Despite the fact that the leaves are dying as they sever from their trees (and the source for their water and nourishment), they are “speaking bliss,” which is to say that they are happy about the changing season. “Fluttering” too is a good word used to differentiate between “falling” or “dying;” by contrast, “flutter” is a much more peaceful-sounding term to describe the motion of falling leaves. Since leaves do not, of course, speak to people, this is a further extension of the narrator’s emotional state, and their appreciation for the changing season. This is to say that in their minds, the leaves are happy to fall and fade away into the changing world.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow

Blossom where the rose should grow;

The second verse brings the speaker into the poem, beginning with the “I” pronoun, as they directly admit that they would rather have a blanket of snow than of roses. “Wreaths” of snow suggests some association with the Christmas season, that perhaps the speaker is so excited by coming frost because they enjoy Christmastime. It is also possible that they simply feel more comfortable with winter; that the roses and snows described in this verse are metaphors for a deeper aspect of Emily Brontë’s character (of which little is known historically).

I shall sing when night’s decay

Ushers in a drearier day.

The final two lines are a strong way of closing off the poem by reiterating its most important theme. The “drearier day” is the most striking aspect of winter that the speaker cares so much for. This is the heaviest implication yet that the yearning for winter, so heavily evident in the rest of the poem, is tied to an intrinsic element of the speaker’s personality. Emotionally, they resonate well with the winter season. The dreariness of the shorter days makes them want to sing, suggesting that it makes them very happy. At first glance this seems to be something of an oxymoron — dreary and happy aren’t exactly mutually exclusive — so this can only be a description of the disposition of the speaker, of the way they think, act, and feel.

If this poem was to be written as an exact inverse of itself, it would be a a cry of pain in retaliation to the coming summer. The speaker would, perhaps, despair over the extended hours of sunlight, lament the cries of pain from leaves growing on trees, and wish that winter weren’t as far away as it is. In this sense, it is even easier to consider the speaker a person who feels at home in the dark, in the cold, and in the dreariest nights.

It is likely that this poem constitutes one of few existing commentaries on who Emily Brontë was as a person. In her life, friends and family described her as a shy individual, but most of what is known about her comes from the posthumous commentaries of her older sister, Charlotte Brontë, who’s neutrality cannot, of course, be assured. It is understandable to think that her elder sister would want to paint her in a positive light, especially as her novels and poems slowly cemented themselves within the history of English literature. In this poem, Emily Brontë seems to be free to discuss herself, and depict herself as a quiet individual who sees life, beauty, and bliss in things that a great many people do not. Even if all she wishes to say is that she loves fall and winter more than summer and spring, it is something worth saying, especially for someone who can express it so well in such a short poem.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What's your thoughts? Join the conversation by commenting
We make sure to reply to every comment submitted, so feel free to join the community and let us know your thoughts below. Scroll to view the comments section.

Get more Poetry Analysis like this in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get new poetry analysis updates straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

>
Scroll Up