Rochester's Song to Jane
In 1842, Charlotte and Emily Bronte attended a boarding school in Brussels to learn French and Charlotte developed a strong attachment to her teacher M. Heger. Who was married and had kids. Although it's possible that Mr. Rochester is based in part on M. Heger (who did have a rather abrupt and changeful character), I mention this because of the song that Mr. Rochester sings to Jane in chapter 23 of the book -
The truest love that ever heart
Felt at its kindled core
Did through each vein, in quickened start,
The tide of being pour.
Her coming was my hope each day,
Her parting was my pain;
The chance that did her steps delay
Was ice in every vein.
Charlotte wrote this poem and what I find so interesting is that this is based off a longer poem she wrote around 1845 that seemed to explore her feelings for M. Heger. She returned alone to Brussels in 1843 to take up a short-lived teaching position at the Heger Pensionnat but she was mostly unhappy there as she was lonely and her feelings for M. Heger were unreciprocated. The full version of that poem is below:
At first I did attention give
Observance-- deep esteem
His frown I failed not to forgive
His smile-- a boon to deem
Attention rose to interest soon
Respect to homage changed
The smile became a returned boon
The frown like grief estranged
The interest ceased not with his voice
The homage tracked him near
Obedience was my heart's free choice
Whateer his word severe
His praise unfrequent-- favours rare
And too much power-- a haunting fear
Around his anger threw--
His coming was my hope each day
His parting was my pain!
The chance that did his steps delay
Was ice in every vein
I gave entire affection now
I gave devotion sure
And strong took root and fast did grow
One mighty feeling more
The truest love that ever heart
Felt at it's kindled core
Through my veins with quickened start
A tide of being pour *[line 28]
[A] halo played about the brows *[line 29]
Of life as seen by me
And bliss within me rose
And anxious ecstacy
I dreamed it would be nameless bliss
As I loved-- loved to be
And to this object did I press
As blind as eagerly
But wide as pathless was the space
That lay our lives between
And dangerous as the foamy race
Of ocean's surges green
And haunted as a robber path
Through wilderness and wood
For might and right woe and wrath
Between our spirits stood
I dangers dared- I hindrance scorned
I omens did defy
Whatever menaced-- harassed warned
I passed impetuous by
On sped my rainbow fast as light
I flew as in a dream
For glorious rose upon my sight
That child of shower and gleam
And bright on clouds of suffering dim
Shone that soft-solemn joy
I care not then how dense and grim
Disaster's gather nigh *[line 56]
I care not in this moment sweet *[line 57]
Though all I have rushed o'er *[line 58]
Should come on pinions strong and fleet *[line 59]
Proclaiming vengeance sore
Hate struck me in his presence down
Love barred approach to me
My rival's joy with jealous frown
Wrath leagued with calumny transfused
Strong poison in his veins
And I stood at his feet accused
Of false stains *[line 68]
Cold as a statue's grew his eye
Hard as a rock his brow
Cold-- hard to me by tenderly
He kissed my rival now.
She seemed my rainbow to have seized
Around her form it closed
And soft its splendour blazed
Where love and she reposed
28: The original version of the line reads "And life a glory bore" --- uncanceled
29: "halo" written above "It played"; neither is canceled
56: "gather nigh" written above "bring nigh"; neither is canceled
57: originally the line read "The hate the love the joy the sweet"-- uncanceled
58: originally the line read "the wrath I had passed o'er"-- uncanceled
59:"Should come" written above "There came"; neither is canceled
68: blank space in manuscript
- from "The Poems of Charlotte Bronte: A New Text and Commentary" by Victor A. Neufeldt
The poem was also revised and adjusted for the first novel she wrote "The Professor" which was published after her death. This is in Chapter 23 of "The Professor":
I gave, at first, attention close;
Then interest warm ensued;
From interest, as improvement rose,
Obedience was no effort soon,
And labour was no pain;
If tired, a word, a glance alone
Would give me strength again.
From others of the studious band,
Ere long he singled me;
But only by more close demand,
And sterner urgency.
The task he from another took,
From me he did reject;
He would no slight omission brook,
And suffer no defect.
If my companions went astray,
He scarce their wanderings blam'd;
If I but falter'd in the way,
His anger fiercely flam'd
When sickness stay'd awhile my course,
He seem'd impatient still,
Because his pupil's flagging force
Could not obey his will.
One day when summoned to the bed
Where pain and I did strive,
I heard him, as he bent his head,
Say, "God, she must revive!"
I felt his hand, with gentle stress,
A moment laid on mine,
And wished to mark my consciousness
By some responsive sign.
But pow'rless then to speak or move,
I only felt, within,
The sense of Hope, the strength of Love,
Their healing work begin.
And as he from the room withdrew,
My heart his steps pursued;
I long'd to prove, by efforts new;
My speechless gratitude.
When once again I took my place,
Long vacant, in the class,
Th' unfrequent smile across his face
Did for one moment pass.
The lessons done; the signal made
Of glad release and play,
He, as he passed, an instant stay'd,
One kindly word to say.
"Jane, till to-morrow you are free
From tedious task and rule;
This afternoon I must not see
That yet pale face in school.
"Seek in the garden-shades a seat,
Far from the play-ground din;
The sun is warm, the air is sweet:
Stay till I call you in."
A long and pleasant afternoon
I passed in those green bowers;
All silent, tranquil, and alone
With birds, and bees, and flowers.
Yet, when my master's voice I heard
Call, from the window, "Jane!"
I entered, joyful, at the word,
The busy house again.
He, in the hall, paced up and down;
He paused as I passed by;
His forehead stern relaxed its frown:
He raised his deep-set eye.
"Not quite so pale," he murmured low.
Now Jane, go rest awhile."
And as I smiled, his smoothened brow
Returned as glad a smile.
My perfect health restored, he took
His mien austere again;
And, as before, he would not brook
The slightest fault from Jane.
The longest task, the hardest theme
Fell to my share as erst,
And still I toiled to place my name
In every study first.
He yet begrudged and stinted praise,
But I had learnt to read
The secret meaning of his face,
And that was my best meed.
Even when his hasty temper spoke
In tones that sorrow stirred,
My grief was lulled as soon as woke
By some relenting word.
And when he lent some precious book,
Or gave some fragrant flower,
I did not quail to Envy's look,
Upheld by Pleasure's power.
At last our school ranks took their ground,
The hard-fought field I won;
The prize, a laurel-wreath, was bound
My throbbing forehead on.
Low at my master's knee I bent,
The offered crown to meet;
Its green leaves through my temples sent
A thrill as wild as sweet.
The strong pulse of Ambition struck
In every vein I owned;
At the same instant, bleeding broke
A secret, inward wound.
The hour of triumph was to me
The hour of sorrow sore;
A day hence I must cross the sea,
Ne'er to recross it more.
An hour hence, in my master's room
I with him sat alone,
And told him what a dreary gloom
O'er joy had parting thrown.
He little said; the time was brief,
The ship was soon to sail,
And while I sobbed in bitter grief,
My master but looked pale.
They called in haste; he bade me go,
Then snatched me back again;
He held me fast and murmured low,
"Why will they part us, Jane?"
"Were you not happy in my care?
Did I not faithful prove?
Will others to my darling bear
As true, as deep a love?
"O God, watch o'er my foster child!
O guard her gentle head!
When minds are high and tempests wild
Protection round her spread!
"They call again; leave then my breast;
Quit thy true shelter, Jane;
But when deceived, repulsed, opprest,
Come home to me again! "