illustrated portrait of English author Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë

Start Free Trial

What does "transient" mean and what is described as transient in Brontë's poem "Life"?

Quick answer:

In Charlotte Brontë’s poem “Life,” transient means only lasting for a short time. The poet might be describing sorrow, happiness, or life in general as transient.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Charlotte Brontë’s poem “Life,” transient means only lasting for a little while. Before Brontë uses the word, she provides examples of sequences that are transient. The “little morning rain” is transient because it doesn’t rain for an extended period. The rain vanishes and is replaced by a “pleasant day.” Likewise, the “clouds of gloom” will not occupy the sky permanently. They, too, will depart. In a sense, transient sums up the opening images of the poem. Brontë uses the word to clarify her claim that bad moments aren’t everlasting.

One could argue that Brontë is specifically describing the “clouds of gloom” as transient. In the line following the cloud image, the word appears. One might also contend that the term applies to the image of rain yielding to a nice day. That image is transient.

Taking the entire poem into account, it’s possible to posit that the poet is describing life as transient. The hard times aren’t the only things that are transient; the happy moments are temporary as well. According to Brontë, the “sunny hours” of life “flit by.” The cheerful times are fleeting or, to use another word, transient. The notion that Brontë is describing life as transient is bolstered by her belief that people should have hope and not surrender to sorrow. Since life is transient, one should not get overly downcast, because betters times can come around again soon.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial