Archives for posts with tag: Emily Bronte

A paraphrasing of the old saying that eloquently sums up the elusive nature of dreams one knows are impossible, my above title aptly conveys the feelings with which some writers and most fans of the Bronte sisters are all to familiar. I suffered from Emily Bronte envy long before I was privileged to walk on some of her beloved ground in Haworth. Once I stood gazing at the Parsonage and walked along a well worn public path, with its bright green grass, stone wall, and tantalizing vistas across a wide, wild stretch of moor, I longed to travel back into her all too brief lifetime to experience it for myself. Briefly, of course, since the Brontes lived lives that were tinged, then deluged with pain, heartbreak, and tragedy.

This Atlas Obscura article dangles the past right before Bronte lovers’ eyes, in the form of a farmhouse the Bronte family visited. They partook of the bookly feast contained in the home’s impressive library. Perhaps, perchance…possibly…Emily based a part of her novel Wuthering Heights on this centuries old property. Even without the Bronte connection, it would still be an amazing piece of English history. 

There’s the problem of the wishes part, though. Ponden Hall is for sale, but for more money than most of us can afford to do more than dream about. This article provides pictures and descriptions that make the dreaming enjoyable, even in its sheer impossibility. One can only hope that the eventual buyers are thrilled by their new connection to literary greatness and get unending pleasure from their new home.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/wuthering-heights-farmhouse-inspiration?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=atlas-page

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Obviously I didn’t really photograph Wuthering Heights, the lonesome place where Heathcliff brooded in Emily Bronte’s classic novel. I did manage the next best thing.

Almost.

I’ve heard that there is a ruin far across the Yorkshire moors near the Bronte Parsonage that was Emily Bronte’s real life inspiration. Not being the tramp across wet, misty desolate areas type, I’m afraid I can’t say if it’s true. Instead, I’ll imagine it so, along with a shadowy figure roaming its confines…a darkly romantic Heathcliff…shimmering in the place where words and imagination meet.

What I did find was the Bronte Parsonage, where Emily lived with her parents, sisters, and brother.

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As in much of Europe, a person can stand before the well aged two story brick building, and easily imagine the long ago literary legends going about their daily lives. Such places seem caught in a bubble of history and time. Seeing them is like observing the past, with an eerie feeling that a single step forward could take you there.

I lingered, memorizing both the way the house looked and how it felt to know they had played as children exactly where I stood. I turned away, and searched the view in all directions as far as I could see. I was not sure what I was looking for. I just knew I did not want the experience to be over.

There was a footpath made of roughly square stepping stones not far from the parsonage. I started along it, thinking I might at least see a bit of the area that would have been familiar to the Brontes.

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It led me toward a cluster of quaint, if nondescript houses. Charming, but not what I was hoping for. A little further. Nothing memorable or exciting. A few more steps, still searching with a kind of interior desperation borne of too much imagination and not quite enough to adequately feed it. Just as I was about to give up…turn away…leave the Brontes behind…I saw this….

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The close confines of the small city that was Bronte central–Haworth–opened up suddenly. Miraculously, instead of plain houses and pretty vegetation, there lay what to my minds eye was the very moor that Heathcliff galloped across on his way to the dark reaches where Wuthering Heights waited for him.

My imagination galloped wildly with him. I stared and stared, captivated by the mentally superimposed image of a silhouetted figure, hair and coattails flying, his horse’s hooves churning the rough ground, as he raced away from heartache toward his refuge. Wild and free, just like the moor.

I had to walk away for real eventually. If not for the threat of wild weather that matched the temperament of the moors, I might have stood there until dark came. In a way I wanted desperately to strike out across that green grass and up the hill. I needed to know whether going far enough would take me to that ruin that lived in maybe. Even more I needed to not know, though. I needed the ruin to stay where it was. Firmly in my imagination where the disappointment of discovering it did not exist couldn’t touch it.

So now when I see the picture I took, as the wind and a few raindrops blew in from the unknown realm of Wuthering Heights, my mind’s eye shows me still that far beyond the hill, deep into the mysterious depths of Emily Bronte’s imagination lies a solitary remnant of Wuthering Heights, waiting for the master she gave it to come in from the rain.