Charlotte Brontë Exhibition

Last week, I visited The Morgan Library and Museum to view Charlotte Brontë:  An Independent Willan exhibit celebrating the two-hundredth anniversary of Brontë’s birth in 1816.

I thought I’d share a few photos…

tiny-books

To the right are tiny handmade books made by Anne Brontë; executed in perfect microscopic penmanship.  The little book on the left is all of an inch or so in length.  Very, very sweet.  One would think it had been written by a fairy.

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Below is Branwell Brontë’s well-known painting of his sisters.

Bramwell died tragically before Emily, Anne, and Charlotte.bronte

The painting has faded but has also revealed…

If you look closely (within what looks like a white column), you can faintly see Branwell.  He painted over his self portrait (between Anne and Emily).

This makes the painting all the more heartbreaking…and a bit eerie.

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And below is a darling mini-portrait by Charlotte of her teenage sister, Anne.  My photo doesn’t do it justice as the colors are so rich and the tone of her skin so pretty.

anneportrait

This is just a tiny taste of what you’ll encounter at the exhibit as there is so much more (such as a handwritten copy of Jane Eyre and The Professor).

So, if you’re in New York…go.

Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will runs through January 2, 2017.

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I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.

– Charlotte Brontë

 

 

 

 

National Poetry Day – Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thou canst not move across the grass
But my quick eyes will see Thee pass,
Nor speak, however silently,
But my hushed voice will answer Thee.
I know the path that tells Thy way
Through the cool eve of every day;
God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart!

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,—
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.

—  Excerpt from Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1917)

Alcott, Thoreau, Emerson, and Fairies

In 1854, a young Louisa May Alcott dedicated Flower Fables to her good friend, Ellen Emerson (daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson).flower-fables

Amos Bronson Alcott (Louisa’s father), Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau were all close friends and naturalists.

Thoreau would often guide the young Alcott sisters around Waldon Pond (which he affectionately named Fairyland), exploring nature, picking berries…living deliberately.

Louisa’s communion with nature is evident in this little book of flowers and fairies and Thoreau certainly was instrumental in developing Louisa’s imagination:  “Cobwebs,” he said, “are actually fairy handkerchiefs.”

Below is an excerpt in which Violet (the little fairy heroine) begs the Frost King to show mercy on her flower friends:

“O King of blight and sorrow, send me not away till I have brought back the light and joy that will make your dark home bright and beautiful again. Let me call back to the desolate gardens the fair forms that are gone, and their soft voices blessing you will bring to your breast a never failing joy. Cast by your icy crown and sceptre, and let the sunlight of love fall softly on your heart.

“Then will the earth bloom again in all its beauty, and your dim eyes will rest only on fair forms, while music shall sound through these dreary halls, and the love of grateful hearts be yours. Have pity on the gentle flower-spirits, and do not doom them to an early death, when they might bloom in fadeless beauty, making us wiser by their gentle teachings, and the earth brighter by their lovely forms. These fair flowers, with the prayers of all Fairy Land, I lay before you; O send me not away till they are answered.”

And with tears falling thick and fast upon their tender leaves, Violet laid the wreath at his feet, while the golden light grew ever brighter as it fell upon the little form so humbly kneeling there.

The courage of these little fairies is a foreshadowing trait I recognize in her later work.  Whether in the magical realism of little fairies or the reality of Little Women, the combination of sweetness and bravery shine through.