illustrated portrait of English author Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë

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According to the poem "Life," what seems to win initially, and what does it win over?

In Charlotte Brontë's poem "Life," the brighter and happier aspects of life initially appear to win over the dark aspects.

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Initially, in "Life," the happier parts of life seem to win over life's sad or "dark" aspects. The poem's speaker, for example, first likens the sadness we sometimes experience to a morning rainstorm that will clear up and bring on a pleasant day. Sadness passes: it is "transient." It is like gloomy clouds that blow away. We shouldn't, the speaker says, mourn rain, because it is what, in the end, makes the flowers bloom.

The speaker goes on to praise life's many happy moments. She says we should enjoy these times when

Life's sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily.

The poem, however, moves to a sad note in which the speaker comes back round to grief. She is thinking of those who have died, the "Best," and at these moments, sorrow seems to "win." Nevertheless, the speaker moves back to optimism. She states that hope and courage can overcome despair and help us to be strong.

Charlotte Brontë wrote the poem, which appeared in 1846, for a volume of poems she and her two surviving sisters, Anne and Emily, produced jointly. The Brontës were not yet famous, but Charlotte had much to hope for as the three sisters worked on the novels that would bring them lasting fame. However, after the astonishing success of Jane Eyre, Charlotte would suffer a crushing blow in 1848 as all three of her siblings died within eight months.

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