by Emily Brontë
Stanza 8 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
And, even yet, I dare not let it languish,
Dare not indulge in memory's rapturous pain;
- Here the speaker dares not "let it languish" and linger. It's as if she knows better, which is why she uses the words "dare not."
- No more moping around the grave for our girl.
- The repetition of "dare not" reminds us of the more experienced and therefore wiser version of our speaker that we see now.
- She even goes so far as to say that memory's "rapturous pain" is an indulgence that is therefore something that can be controlled and "checked." It's almost like memory and its pain sound more like a kind of drug that has the power to put us in a sort of rapture (and is also indulgent).
- So the speaker is building upon her newfound strength and putting her own pain and memory in the sort of perspective that doesn't allow for the sort of control it had earlier.
- Notice we have some more perfect iambic pentameter in line 29 that really drives home the power behind these words. These are not the lingering words and rhythms we saw in the first few stanzas.
Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
How could I seek the empty world again?
- By line 31 we're seeing more of the speaker's perspective on how anguish can be an indulgence that one "drink[s] deep." So she's really feeling an aversion to the whole idea of wallowing in misery and feeling sorry for oneself.
- At the same time, she recognizes that anguish can be "divine" in the sense that it proves her faithfulness. But at this point she's been there, done that. It's time to move forward since "drinking deep" of that anguish would be like seeking the "empty world" again that reminds her of what she lost.
- The final rhetorical question wraps this elegy up in a rather neat way that compares memory's anguish to the process of seeking an "empty world." It doesn't make sense to look for a world that doesn't have anything in it, so why do it?
- By the end, the speaker has learned to control not only her passions but also the manner in which she remembers. She's said that her love will always be felt even if she doesn't indulge in memory's pain. Her lack of memory "cannot do thee wrong," after all.
- It turns out that remembrance is a tricky thing when it comes to love and loss. We may feel guilt, anguish, anxiety over the one we lost, but in doing so we find ourselves indulging in an "empty world," which doesn't make much sense. Perhaps it's enough then to simply recall the love we've felt without seeking the particulars of the person's death and the misery we feel. Sounds good to Shmoop.
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