In most of the world Emily Jane Bronte is known exclusively for her novel Wuthering Heights. The Englishwoman is considered to be first of all a writer and enjoys unfairly less recognition as a poet, although by all means her verses are worth reading. The greater the skills of a creative person, the more one might see behind simple words. An excellent example is a poem by Emily Bronte called The Night Wind, published in the mid-1840’s in co-work with her sister, whoembraces and combines a lot of images. Verse’s tone, imagery and symbolism are three most important aspects to be revealed.
The tone of the poem changes in the course of action. The mental picture springing to the mind of a reader in eight lines of the beginning is calm and peaceful. The author resorts to such words as mellow, silent, soft, which reflect only positive feelings and perceptions, nothing frightening, sad or painful is meant. The unpalatable and unexplainable danger can be sensed further, when the wind, this spirit, insists on its luring (line 11). The wind vividly describes the advantages it can bring, but the lyrical heroine is calm and sure the spirit’s enticing voice will not persuade her (lines 17-20). Her assurance leaves no doubt. Moreover, she is rather straightforward and bold in her reluctance to communicate, which can seem to be an unpleasant hint for the wind (lines 21-24). But then the determined character of wind manifests itself. The wind gets tired of sweet whispering, as it bring no results, and decides to unveil its true character. Even force methods are mentioned (line 28). The rest of the poem is dedicated to self-declarations of the wind’s prevailing power and length of existence compared to human life. Last lines of the verse are gloomy and containing images connected with death. This unusual dialogue between a woman and a nature’s force sounds very true to life, as if it really took place at a calm night of summer.
The tone of the poem is aided and comprehended by the corresponding imagery. The abovementioned adjectives function as epithets describing setting of the conversation. The calm beginning is reinforced by alliteration in the first line: m in summer's mellow midnight. Wind as a certain independent power finds many embodiments. It reveals itself through sound (it breathes, whispers and sighs), touch (it waves), reasons (it brings the unwanted thoughts to the heroine). Throughout the poem it is called in different ways based on the perception of its interlocutor (spirit, singer, wonderer). Heaven and earth described by the wind meet in the neighbor lines. They might be considered to form an antithesis, although presented as elements of worldwide harmony. Particularly vivid is wind’s monologue meant to be persuasive for a like-minded, but, of course, in the context its realm gains even slightly humorous features. Simile can be seen when referring to the wood, where leaves “are rustling like a dream” (Bronte). The beauty of the wood is emphasized by a hyperbole “myriad voices” (Bronte).Voice is a constant image with a range of meanings. It is meant to be very pleasant and calling at the beginning. Voice is what almost turns the wind into a human being, thus bearing a metaphoric transference of personification. The inability of the wind to persuade the lyrical heroine is clarified in her attitude: “scented flower” and a “supple bough” are condescendingly presented by the wind as the only power stage of the wind. The contrast is built by the opposition of these natural things to the intricate phenomenon of a human mind, human feelings. Such a reaction triggers the wind to change its tactics with the woman. Yet the wind does not lose its solemn nature force’s pride, which is clarified when the author mentions “Its kiss grew warmer still”. A bright metaphor-based oxymoron – “silence wakes” also belongs to the wind’s speech. The ending of the poem implies a stylistic device of climax – the reasoning of the wind steadily develops through obvious threatening to the display of total scorn. Stylistically the poem is enhanced by the archaic vocabulary. The usage of such pronouns, as thy, thou and its form thee, dating back to Old English period, contributes to the elevated and solemn tone of the verse greatly. General lexical analysis shows that the speech of the wind derivates from the strict norms only when it comes to the emotional top of the poem, when it begins to threaten.
Interpretation of symbols by a reader of every work of literature depends on a lot of factors starting from the background knowledge and ending with the emotional state at the time of reading. The Night Wind allows different understandings of symbols. One may, for example, see all the life temptations waiting for us at every corner in the image of the wind. Night is a dark time; the absence of sun produces mystery, moonlight being only a dim substitute of the bright star. Night and obscurity host something potentially dangerous and wrong. Darkness of woods is a clear manifestation of the worst sides of the night. Yet it may seem strangely attractive. Wind finds a lot of interpretations. On the one hand, it may seem a separate dark power. On the other, as Lydia M. Weaver maintains, it may be only a figment of imagination the lyrical heroine tries to give up.
In her short poem the skilled master of a word Emily Bronte managed to convey deep and profound images and symbols. They include the woman (as all human beings), the wind (as a mysterious power), and the night (as an accomplice in dark deeds). The latter two act as if they were alive. The change of the poem’s tone creates a certain inner tense of narration. Images, symbols and tone form the pattern of the poem, consisting of interrelated elements, turning it into a single literary entity.