Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre: Ch. 24

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He said this as he helped me to alight from the carriage, and while he afterwards lifted out Adèle, I entered the house, and made good my retreat upstairs.

He duly summoned me to his presence in the evening.  I had prepared an occupation for him; for I was determined not to spend the whole time in a tête-à-tête conversation.  I remembered his fine voice; I knew he liked to sing—good singers generally do.  I was no vocalist myself, and, in his fastidious judgment, no musician, either; but I delighted in listening when the performance was good.  No sooner had twilight, that hour of romance, began to lower her blue and starry banner over the lattice, than I rose, opened the piano, and entreated him, for the love of heaven, to give me a song.  He said I was a capricious witch, and that he would rather sing another time; but I averred that no time was like the present.

“Did I like his voice?” he asked.

“Very much.”  I was not fond of pampering that susceptible vanity of his; but for once, and from motives of expediency, I would e’en soothe and stimulate it.

“Then, Jane, you must play the accompaniment.”

“Very well, sir, I will try.”

I did try, but was presently swept off the stool and denominated “a little bungler.”  Being pushed unceremoniously to one side—which was precisely what I wished—he usurped my place, and proceeded to accompany himself: for he could play as well as sing.  I hied me to the window-recess.  And while I sat there and looked out on the still trees and dim lawn, to a sweet air was sung in mellow tones the following strain:—

“The truest love that ever heartd
   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.

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-surges green.

And haunted as a robber-path
   Through wilderness or wood;
For Might and Right, and 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.

Still bright on clouds of suffering dim
   Shines that soft, solemn joy;
Nor care I now, how dense and grim
   Disasters gather nigh.

I care not in this moment sweet,
   Though all I have rushed o’er
Should come on pinion, strong and fleet,
   Proclaiming vengeance sore:

Though haughty Hate should strike me down,
   Right, bar approach to me,
And grinding Might, with furious frown,
   Swear endless enmity.

My love has placed her little hand
   With noble faith in mine,
And vowed that wedlock’s sacred band
   Our nature shall entwine.

My love has sworn, with sealing kiss,
   With me to live—to die;
I have at last my nameless bliss.
   As I love—loved am I!”

He rose and came towards me, and I saw his face all kindled, and his full falcon-eye flashing, and tenderness and passion in every lineament.  I quailed momentarily—then I rallied.  Soft scene, daring demonstration, I would not have; and I stood in peril of both: a weapon of defence must be prepared—I whetted my tongue: as he reached me, I asked with asperity,w “whom he was going to marry now?”

“That was a strange question to be put by his darling Jane.”

“Indeed!  I considered it a very natural and necessary one: he had talked of his future wife dying with him.  What did he mean by such a pagan idea?  I had no intention of dying with him—he might depend on that.”

X [d] “The truest love that ever heart

Writing & Reading

The poem is by Charlotte Brontë. She has Rochester saying it, and it is suited to not only his voice but his temperament. Aside from the "pinion," there are no birds, but, aroused by singing the song, his falcon-eye immediately alights on her, and she "quailed." 

X [w] asperity,

Tartness.