As the moving words of Emily Bronte’s slightly adapted poem The Prisoner wash over you, take time to pray on behalf of the many who find themselves deprived of liberty, or who are struggling to retain hope.

Still let my tyrants know, I am not doomed to wear
Year after year in gloom and desolate despair;
A Messenger of Hope comes every night to me,
And offers for short life, eternal liberty.

He comes in morning song and evening’s wandering airs,
With that clear voice from Heaven that pierces darkest lairs:
Winds take a pensive note and stars a brighter fire
As visions rise and change, and thrill me with desire.

Desire for nothing known in my younger years
When Joy rejected tears and fell at Pleasure’s Feet,
When, if my spirit’s sky was full of flashes warm,
I knew not whence they came, from sun or thunder storm.

But now a hush of peace – a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress and fierce impatience ends.
Mute music soothes my breast – unutter’d harmony
That I could never dream, till Earth was lost to me.

Then dawns the Invisible: the Unseen its truth reveals;
My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels;
Its wings are almost free – its home, its harbour found.
Measuring the gulf, it stoops, and dares the final bound.

O dreadful is the check – intense the agony –
When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb – the brain to think again –
The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.

Yet I would lose no sting, would wish no torture less;
The more that anguish racks, the earlier it will bless;
And robed in fires of hell, or bright with heavenly shine,
If it but herald Death, the vision is divine.

She ceased to speak, and we, unanswering, turned to go –
We had no further power to work the captive woe:
Her cheek, her gleaming eye, declared that man had given
A sentence, unapproved, and Heaven had overruled.

The Prisoner



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