Every once in a while, an artist will use their talent to focus their energies on the explanation behind a single emotion. The power of poetry to convey emotional capacity is incredible, in part because poetry has the freedom to be specific through the written word. In the case of Emily Brontë’s Me Thinks This Heart Should Rest Awhile — referencing the first line of the poem, as the actual work is untitled — is an excellent case of this idea. Emily Brontë’s use of deep, imagery metaphor allows her to create a specific and personalized idea in the reader’s mind. She is able to accurately hone in on a specific feeling that defies simple definition and essentially demands an in-depth analysis. Brontë’s work is untitled — but it doesn’t need a title, and is whatever the reader makes of it. The subjective power of Me Things This Heart Should Rest Awhile is its most notable strength, and what makes it such a potentially powerful read.
Me Thinks This Heart Should Rest Awhile Analysis
Me thinks this heart should rest awhile
So stilly round the evening falls
The veiled sun sheds no parting smile
Nor mirth nor music wakes my Halls
The first verse of the poem opens into a very traditional style; it is a quatrain with alternating rhymes (ABAB) and follows a rigid count of eight syllables per line. It is easy to read; it flows nicely, and would almost be upbeat were it not for the content. The verse sees Brontë making careful choices with her words; such words as “stilly,” “evening,” falls,” and “veiled” are all words that contribute to an atmosphere of some kind of sadness. “Evening” and “veiled” create an image of something that is dark, or blocking light, while “stilly” and “falls” describe motions that echo this image. Being still and falling are both actions that can suggest some kind of unhappiness, introspectiveness, or distraction that is affecting the speaker.
The verse describes a very grim perspective on the evening. The sun is veiled, suggesting perhaps that the sky is cloudy — this could be a literal or symbolic description. In the speaker’s home, there is neither “mirth nor music,” which implies that the home is either empty, or perhaps asleep, given the apparent time of day. It is clear that the speaker feels as though they are alone with their thoughts, and their descriptions of the passing day around them can be best described as unhappy, which explains the preceding suggestion that perhaps their heart requires some kind of rest if this is its perception.
I have sat lonely all the day
Watching the drizzly mist descend
And first conceal the hills in grey
And then along the valleys wend
The second verse attempts to describe the passage of the day that precedes this evening. When the speaker declares that they have spent much of the day sitting alone, it adds relevance to the earlier suggestion that their house is empty as they make their observations — or at least has been for much of the day. Once again, the weather outdoors is described. It has been a wet, misty kind of day (which makes sense — clouds and mist could have “veiled” the sun in the evening by blocking its light early), and there is something about the image of drizzling mist that heavily emphasizes the atmosphere purported so far. The final two lines suggest that this mist is everywhere, and the word “wend” suggests that it appears to be literally following a path. Everywhere the speaker looks is dull, dark, and damp, which may be influencing their present mood — it is likely that most can relate to the feelings of happiness or sadness that can simply have accompanied a bright or dim shift in the weather.
And I have sat and watched the trees
And the sad flowers how drear they blow
Those flowers were formed to feel the breeze
Wave their light leaves in summer’s glow
The third (and second-to-last) verse continues to examine the natural world as it is observed by the weary-hearted speaker throughout the day. The personification of the flowers to feel sadness is an extension of the speaker’s own feelings, and they make one key observation in the verse: that flowers are summertime beings. They see the trees and flowers being blown about in the wind and weighed down by the mist, and think that those flowers were created for the purpose of summer; to absorb light and dance in gentle breezes. The idea of these flowers being out-of-place can be applied to the speaker as well, who clearly dislikes the lonely, depressing kind of day they’re experiencing, and feel as though they too are not where they were created to be, and this is the likely source of their weariness.
Yet their lives passed in gloomy woe
And hopeless comes its dark decline
And I lament because I know
That cold departure pictures mine
Still talking about the plants outside, the speaker laments the “gloomy woe” that follows their lives and eventual end. This verse sees a heavy return of the gloomy atmosphere, in particular through words such as “gloomy woe,” “dark decline,” “lament,” and “cold departure,” ending the piece on a very unhappy note. The last two lines of the poem make the idea that the speaker is seeing a reflection of their own being in the state of the natural world seem even more plausible. They picture their own “cold departure” in very much the same way they view the daytime and evening fall they’re currently observing. This also suggests that, alone, they have spent an entire day simply watching the gloomy weather take its toll on the natural scenery.
Brontë’s expression of sadness touches upon a number of notable aspects of self; this poem examines such phenomena as introspection, loneliness, and of feeling like life is standing still. The parallel between the gloomy natural world and the difficult inner world is made clear, even though it is only loosely stated, by the natural ability possessed by the reader to relate to the feeling, whether from being sad on a gloomy day, or from feeling something similar. If there is an upside to the poem — and it may well be that there is no intentional positive connotation — it is that more often than not, gloomy, misty days improve; the sun always casts away the veil eventually, and on those days, it is much easier to feel joy.