Emily Bronte: An inspiration. ‘Bonnets & Paper Lace.’


emily-bronte-detail-from-a-very-clearly-and-boldly-drawn-pencil-sketch-of-emily-by-charlotte-bronte-something-about-dartmoorFall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

Poem by Emily Bronte.

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Yesterday – Saturday 26th November 2016 – was one of those November days when Emily was floatin’ around…

In the ‘moment’ I reached for my little green book of her poetical works – I especially love her poetry.  Opposite me – there is an impressive canvas of a much smaller original drawing – of a young woman wearing a bonnet – I call her ‘Emily’.  Often we meet each other’s gaze – and I feel challenged by hers – I feel the young women in the portrait has set me a task and she won’t rest until it’s complete.   After flicking through Emily’s passionate poetry – (I wasn’t truly in a reading mood) – I suddenly was taken by an undeniable urge to get out – and visit a place that I must have driven passed about a thousand times on my journeys to and from work.

When I snake down the long hill on my morning runs (always in a rush) – I’m intrigued by a steep path I see through a deciduous wood – it looks like an aisle in a cathedral – only one of Nature’s making.  After years of passing the ‘doorway’ – I determined that it was time to enter in.  I didn’t feel the need to tell anyone where I was going – I just dropped everything – including Emily’s volume – and breezed-off in my car.  Ah such freedom! Emily would get that – only she’d have grabbed her bonnet instead of a car key!

Fall. leaves, fall...detail from a beautiful watercolour - signed J.H. Wilson 1932 - perhaps inspired by Emily's poetry too.

Fall. leaves, fall…detail from a beautiful watercolour – signed J.H. Wilson 1932 – perhaps inspired by Emily’s poetry too.

It is rare for me to go for an afternoon walk – but today was a special calling.  To hear the sound of leaves whooshing through my feet – and to smell earth’s sweet decay.  I too love the dreariness of Autumn – heading into Winter…

The way through the wood from a newly discovered perspective...

The way back through the wood from a newly discovered perspective…

Once inside the wood – I was like a ravenous pig on the hunt for acorns – although I wasn’t purposefully searching for anything.  It wasn’t long before I’d grown tired with the path and I’d strayed off to explore the rougher areas on either side.


A bowl full of sweet decay.

A bowlful of sweet decay.

I scrambled between tall trees – impatiently stumbling up-to the top of the wood – where I could see light through the tracery of black trunks and branches at the edge; I discovered that the wood bordered open fields.  old-forgotten-ways-something-about-dartmoorThere were several rusty gates used as fences – and the space had that feeling of neglect and forgotten ways – I was in my element.


Tracery of trees at the edge - I see 'Emily' again!

Tracery of trees at the edge – I see ‘Emily’ again! (See the image at the bottom of this post.)

My only apparent company was an old cock pheasant – who despite the sound of distant gun shots – was unperturbed by my arrival. the-old-cock-pheasant-something-about-dartmoorIt wasn’t long before I was gifted a beautifully weathered skull that had a soft green ‘verdigris’ – I love unearthing old, forgotten treasure.  Its layered structure was so paper thin – that I felt if I’d dropped it – it would’ve crumbled to dust.  paper-thin-skull-something-about-dartmoorI was ‘lost’ in the wood for a couple hours – exploring ‘paths’ that I had no idea where they were taking me – it was an exquisite experience.

By the time I’d ‘navigated’ back to the start – I was treated to a most glorious sunset on my homeward journey.

Remembering 'Beautio Beautio.'

Remembering ‘Beautio Beautio.’

It was on this very stretch of road that I found – ‘Beautio Beautio’ a Devon Buzzard – and was inspired to write a piece of poetry – to remember his passing.

I’m circling ever higher – beyond my usual limit – where I can see myself lying at a roadside – crying tears of blood.

Higher and higher – until the fields and moors that are my hunting ground are lost from sight – beneath a veil of cloud.

Onward and upwards nearer the Sun – I’m disappearing into light.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When I arrived home and got out of the car  – I picked up a windblown leaf that I’d just driven straight over! Even though I’d been trampsing over thousands of leaves all afternoon – this one had spoken to me.  And despite its pressing – its delicate structure held fast – and it looked for all the world like a piece of century-old thread-bare lace from the sleeve or collar of a Victorian lady’s dress.autumns-decay-lace-like-leaf-something-about-dartmoor

It was the perfect keepsake – to remind me of my Emily inspired – impromptu ramble.

Again – thoughts of Emily drifted into my head – and of the mysterious eyes that search me from under a frizz of curls and a bonnet brim…

Hither and thither.  Like the wuthering wind – no-one knows where she has come from or where she goes…

When held to the light – she looks like my windblown leaf; the watermarked paper is stained and brown with age yet somehow she has survived for a hundred years plus; her intrinsic beauty shines forth.  She is monogrammed C B – artistically disguised in a wisp of hair.  She also has a striking resemblance to two other known ‘Bonnet Portraits’

Emily on canvas.

Emily in the shadows –  on canvas.

Treasure as strong - or as delicate as paper lace - it's in the keeper's hands.

Treasure as strong – or as delicate as paper lace – it’s in the keeper’s hands.

Emily Bronte

‘Emily’ – the trees speak bliss to me.  Simple relief image of the trees at the edge of the wood – they really do spell out her name.

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