“Spellbound” written by Emily Bronte is an example of fine poetry created with the utmost sensibility, romantism and dedication. As the poet knew very well, a text of this class can pain a thousand pictures in the reader’s mind, transporting them into a new world which takes life from the words in the verses. The poem was written when Emily Bronte was only nineteen, in 1837, and it is the pure insight of a young educated lady in that age. Although short, “Spellbound” is a deep and sensible poem that expresses different types of feelings in distinct manners.
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The events in the poem take place in the Yorkshire Moors of England, the very same place where the author’s novel “Wuthering Heights” was set. As the poem is written in first person, the speaker describes a cold winter night with a gloomy, chilled atmosphere. Because of the title and the ending of each part, the poem seems to describe a struggle that the speaker goes through. The repetition of the verb “I cannot go” in different manners shows the fact that the speaker is somehow connected to something that is inside the dark woods.
Poetry that is written in a manner similar to “Spellbound” by Emily Bronte are pieces of literature that express multiple emotions within a very small number of verses. These emotions are described using a large variety of poetic techniques such as repetitions, metaphors, the rhythm and meter of the poem and comparisons. However, “Spellbound” emphasizes on the aesthetics of the vocabulary and this is accomplished by carefully matching words that seem common to others that are meant to increase their value and meaning.
The first verse, “The night is darkening round me” is meant to set the mood of the poem. The darkness of the forest along with the cold wind that blows makes the woods an improper place to spend time. However, the speaker does not seem to be able to leave the place, as he is bound by a “tyrant spell.” This strong adjective put before the spell that might chance the speaker’s life creates a tense atmosphere and implies that the spell is quite cruel. The darkness that descends into the forest and engulfs the speaker and the “wild wind” that blows coldly are motifs used by the young Bronte to create a vivid image of the setting.
The first part of the poem is also the first encounter with the emphasis on the speaker’s inability to leave the setting. The repetition “and I cannot, cannot go” is an artistic manner in which the poet tries to symbolize the speaker’s incapability of leaving the place while making this impossibility a dramatic circumstance. This exclamation will repeat another two times, with the role of emphasizing this restraint the speaker feels because of, he says, a supernatural force that stands inside the spell.
The second part of the poem goes on with the description of the place the events take place. The setting becomes more complex with every detail added and the atmosphere’s tension increases. The giant trees that are bended under the burden of snow symbolize the grandeur of the setting and increase the sentiment of fear. The winter tableau creates a chilling image, adding to the somber illustration of the setting. The snow that covers the trees has two meanings in the text, one as a hard load that one has to carry and the other as another factor that contributes to the obscurity of the scene. Although it is white, snow help cover tracks and prevents light from shining through the branches of the trees.
The last stanza, Emily Bronte uses the repetition “clouds beyond clouds” to describe even better the hard conditions that surround the speaker. Apart from the clouds that obscure the sun and prevent its rays from reaching the ground, the “wastes beyond wastes” that can be found beneath the speaker represent the land he steps on. He refers to it as waste because the land is barren, another symbol of despair and uselessness. Furthermore, the wasted lands create the impression of loneliness, of an unwanted place where the speaker does not want to be alone.
However gloomy and dark the setting might be, the speaker exclaims in the previous from last verse that “nothing drear can move me.” This is why the poem seems to tell the story of a person who, however depressing and desolating a place can be, if there are some reasons to remain there, nothing could make them leave the place. The main reason in this case was the spell, bounding the speaker to the dismal environment. The last verse of the stanza and poem, the speaker exclaims that not only he cannot leave, but he “will not.” This firm exclamation shows the fact that the speaker is under the influence of the spell so badly that it possesses his mind, taking control of what he wants or does not want to do.
All things considered, “Spellbound” is a dramatic poem written by a young Emily Bronte, inspired from her childhood ideas. The author created a world in which tragic events and romantic happenings would combine is strange circumstances. This world is thought to be the setting of the poem, with “giant trees” and “clouds beyond clouds”, elements which have put the speaker under a spell, not allowing him to leave.
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