In “Cold in The Earth”, Emily Bronte seeks to explore the dramatic psychological journey of losing a loved one. Bronte emphasises the speakers’ inner struggle and pain which she attempts to overcome throughout the poem as well as demonstrating the stages required to reconcile herself to the truth. Bronte also analyses the dualistic thoughts whereby the speaker debates whether struggling with the loss is better than moving on with her life. One way by which Bronte conveys coping with loss is by the speaker clinging on to the past and finding it increasingly difficult to let go.
In the opening three paragraphs, the reader gains an insight into the speakers’ emotions and just how distant she feels from her lover. The fact that she is ‘far, far removed’ helps demonstrate this point and the use of repetition and long syllables shows the detached nature. The ‘fern-leaves cover’ and ‘deep snow’ both help reiterate how absent they are from each other. Bronte used apostrophe to show how the speaker still feels connected to the lover by being addressed as ‘My Only Love’ and speaking to a dead person.
The speaker also stresses how it is hard to break away from the ‘all-wearing wave’ because one cannot escape the time, they wear it. The speaker attempts to get over the loss, when she understands that ‘when alone’ she is still thinking about him. The creation of a fantasy world ‘on Angoras Shore’ demonstrates that the speaker cannot stop dwelling on her lover and will try to be with him, even If it is just ‘over the mountains’ in a fantasy world.
By ‘resting her wings’ the speaker begins to face the reality of the grave, but by the stanza finishing with a rhetorical question, the reader can vision the inner emotional struggle which the speaker is experiencing as a consequence of standing up to the reality. The dualistic vivid imagery in stanza three helps to show how baffled the speaker is. Even after the ‘fifteen Decembers’ passed, the feelings were never forgotten. As well as this, the repetition of ‘Cold in The Earth’ further identifies this.
The speaker also attempts to show her loyalty by being ‘faithful’ to her lover which was seen as a necessary trait in the Victorian Era, and the enjambment at the end of the penultimate lines, shows the fluidity of the process of losing a loved one, and furthermore, the cycle of suffering. After this in Stanzas four and five, the reader gets an insight into the next stage of the speaker trying to cope with loss; she makes a final tribute to her lover.
One gets a sense of the turning point in her emotions she wants her lover to ‘forgive if I forget thee’ which demonstrates how it is natural for her to want to move on. The opening line’s soft fricatives shows the remorse and guilt that the speaker will go through, but the softness of it shows that she does not want it to harm her lover. The speaker reminisces about the ‘Sweet Love of Youth’ from 15 years ago and the sad reality that this will never happen again.
The fact that she can comprehend this is displayed when her ‘sterner desires’ for the future are described as ‘dark hopes’ which is an oxymoron. The use of an oxymoron shows the backwards nature of moving on and subconsciously, she knows that her hopes for the future are dark and empty. The internal rhyme of thee and me suggests that there is still a connection between a youthful self and future one, even if weak. Stanza five depicts her final tribute to him, strangely in the middle of the poem.
The first line shows how ‘no other sun’ which is a metaphor for man, ‘has lightened up my heaven’ which further demonstrates how since his death, she has not love anyone else which proves her faithfulness. She begins to realise that life will go ahead, however, she has to reconsider new hopes. Also, unlike the poems trochaic iambic pentameter, this stanza has a perfect iambic pentameter which shows the regularity of not loving anyone else as well as the tribute.
Due to her lover being ‘all my life’s bliss,’ the reader can begin to understand that he meant everything to her, her only bliss was with him and he was her complete world. The concluding line quotes that all her bliss is in the ‘gave with thee’. Unfortunately, this shows the harsh reality of death because the speaker died emotionally when he died and her life is in the grave with him. The final way by which Bronte conveys coping with loss is by in the final three verses, the reader gets a sense of the speakers’ endeavour to move on and how she is going to live her future life.
After the ‘golden dreams had perished,’ she realised that not all the memories were good, and the point that not all the dreams revolved around her lover. The sheer power of her emotions can be seen where ‘Despair’ is capitalised, which also helps to emphasise the fact that even despair could not destroy her golden dreams. The speaker begins to realise that she needed the time to move on, and that it was an essential part of the recovering process which enables her to begin to learn that ‘existence could be cherished.
It took over 15 years to realise that despite being ‘without the aid of joy,’ she can still liver her life, hence the poem being very stoical. By Bronte describing the speaker as ‘check the tears,’ the reader gets the implication that she tried to stop herself crying and supress the stern desires. The tears being described as ‘useless passion,’ utilises an oxymoron in order to portray the 15 years as excessive, and the fact that the tears will not bring back her lover. The next couple of lines pose the question to the reader whether the tombs is there for her.
Due to the enjambment leading to that ‘tomb already more than mine,’ clearly, the speaker is experiencing suicidal thoughts as she wonders if she should join him in his tomb. By the last stanza, Bronte refers back to the trochaic iambi pentameter in order to fully stress the harsh first words on the line. She ‘dare not let it languish’ which shows that she does not want her soul linger around aimlessly. Another sense of what her lover meant to her can be seen by the capitalisation of ‘Memory’ which almost personifies every single memory to be if her lover.
The oxymoronic ‘rapturous pain’ can be interpreted to mean that she enjoyed the pain because it still reminded her of the ‘noble lover. ’ The repetition of the harsh ‘d’ syllable is used to show how memories are painful not loving, which helps her approach the penultimate line, ‘How could I seek the empty world again? ’ Through the use of vivid imagery and in-detail descriptions, one is lead to believe that Bronte conveys coping with loss in ‘Cold in The Earth,’ as an unavoidable, traumatic experience.
The speaker is constantly attempting to ‘seek the empty world’ but is finding it increasingly difficult due to not being able to love another person. The use of rhetorical questions helps depict her inner emotional struggle with coping with loss and has the speaker debating whether she should commit suicide in order to reunite with her loved one. The experience is displayed to be harrowing enough for someone to consider taking their own life, and even time, no matter how long, cannot fill the empty void.