Emily Bronte’s “No Coward Soul Is Mine” was written in order to reach out and touch faith so to speak. Death, faith, and passion were things that did not run scarce in Emily Bronte’s life and with that “No Coward Soul Is Mine” was inspired and written. Writing to cope with the pain of growing up, neglected and uneducated Bronte reaches out to God to fill her wounds and give her a life after life. Within “No Coward Soul Is Mine”, Bronte whole heartedly reveals her views on God through the poem’s theme, provides descriptions of her interpretation of God himself as a character, allows the reader to illustrate what she sees through nature, and also pulls the readers’ attention with her use of passionate and powerful words while setting the tone of the poem.
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In “No Coward Soul Is Mine”, the main purpose for Bronte’s use of first person is to express her thoughts, beliefs, and views on God and how other things relate back to him like faith and death (Fernández). Emily’s beliefs are that God is everywhere and is the source of everything. She wants to show the world that God is her life and reason to live and does so in her own way. Her thoughts are brilliantly used in the form of nature, providing unique descriptions of nature to depict what God is like. Bronte’s beliefs are shared and expressed through her metaphoric use of faith throughout the poem, whether it is the breath she breathes, or her never ending love and adoration for God. Her view on God is moving and full of enthusiasm keeping the reader listening and wanting more of Bronte’s thoughts. In her very first line of the poem, where she states, “No coward soul is mine” (Bronte, p. 948), she wants to prove to everyone that she isn’t a coward through God and never will be, and by making this quote the title enforces its importance to represent her as a strong and independent woman with the partnership of God. “No Coward Soul Is Mine” is also a very affectionate and emotional poem that Bronte allows the reader to feel and react to. Bronte allows the reader to effectively view her morals and values. The poem permits the reader to interact with and relate to where the author is coming from in an easy perspective. In addition, the poem represents a sense of reflection of Bronte herself and opens up her opinions and beliefs to the reader while also depicting her relationship with God. Her thoughts are obvious since the portrayed image of her character of God is very descriptive and personal, which is why it was written in the first-person.
Bronte’s character of God is not a character at all but actually her faith and principles. In the first stanza she writes “Heaven’s glories shine and Faith shines equal arming me from Fear (Bronte).” In this line, she is saying that through God and faith she is fearless. “Faith is the belief in something that cannot be seen, but in which one has complete trust (Fernández, 2000).” In the second stanza, her character is strong and she states that anyone can possess him. Bronte is preaching about God and telling the audience what he can offer them and continues in the third and fourth stanza encouraging the audience to look away from evil and vain and to trust and give your faith to God. She continues on and compares her character to rocks and other objects in nature that symbolize someone that is strong not only physically, and emotionally, but also spiritually. She also makes references to the breath that we breathe and that gives us life although we cannot see it. Much like in “The Pulley” by George Herbert, the character of God is so powerful and giving just at Bronte states. Herbert states that God gave us all of our blessings all of which are strength, wisdom, pleasure, beauty and honor. This poem also portrays a close relationship with the character of God (just as “No Coward Soul Is Mine” does), and also explains how man provides his respect for God through only God’s knowledge of eternal rest. Both poems give their character use of God’s recognition to the highest power and with nothing less than respect. Even though they cannot see him physically, they spiritually both reach out to him. “His spirit is not dead, he is made one with nature, he is a presence (Pinion, 1975).” Bronte is sure of two things: her faith and the certainty of God’s existence. Through nature, Bronte provides the reader with brilliant images of whom and what she sees as signs of a presence of God.
“No coward soul is mine, No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere: I see Heavens glories shine, and faith shines equal, arming me from fear (Bronte, p. 948).” Bronte Speaks clearly and gives the reader a chance to understand exactly what message she is portraying and providing clarity in her visual images. In this excerpt, she carefully paints the image of everlasting love and faith, also the afterlife. Her images are colorful and exciting and she uses large amounts of enthusiasm to express her feelings and expresses those by using powerful images of nature. By using physically powerful images throughout the poem to praise and worship God, she gives the audience a very clear and precise understanding on how God is portrayed through her eyes. As upbeat as most of the poem is, she also uses some degrading imagery, mostly towards those who live their lives in vain and continue to do so. Her strict intolerance is quickly expressed through her one simile in the poem which contains strong use of vain. “In moments of vision, religion can pierce the veil and become one with the universal and external spirit (Winnifrith & Chitham, p. 59).” Bronte also expresses how death is not to be feared and that even after you stop breathing your spirit and faith will live on somewhere. “There is not room for Death, Nor atom that his might could render void: Thou -Thou art Being and Breath, And what Thou art may never be destroyed (Bronte, p. 948).” She uses numerous things to associate God with and does so effectively and efficiently without confusing the reader. Even when speaking of death she does not disappoint the reader with a drop in tone; however, somewhere throughout the vivid images she does lose the rhyme of the poem although the tone seems to flow fine and smooth without it.
The tone in “No Coward Soul Is Mine” is passionate, while the language is uplifting, emotional and even accusatory. Faith, death, and passion keep an even and overall happy tone throughout the poem. Using faith and passion to keep the reader content and open-minded, but also by using death to pull the reader back to reality, she balances the tone perfectly and does so without confusing the reader. The poem contains mostly metaphors with the exception of one simile which is referring to men. “Worthless and withered weeds. Or idlest froth amid the boundless main (Bronte, p. 948).” The use of the word “as” and the particular simile used here gives this phrase a nice tone, and also expresses Bronte’s contempt for the vain men (Elite Skills Classics). However, Bronte’s metaphors are not to be looked at individually but as a whole. Together they are characteristics of God and what he is through her eyes. Her religion is everything and without her faith she is nothing. Her commitment to her faith is astounding and it is all based on her trust in God which she conveys in the overall tone by appearing to be so clam and care free throughout “No Coward Soul Is Mine.” Bronte uses these metaphors to “exult God through the poem (Pinion, p. 201).” She is not afraid of death because she knows that God will give her some kind of life after she is gone. She is not tolerant of those who take her God in vain or act in vain. “She wishes to become a slave inseparable from her religious thoughts (Davies, p. 173).” Overall the tone is conservative which is completely appropriate for Bronte’s religious and touching poem.
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Emily Bronte’s “No Coward Soul Is Mine” is a clear display of a strong faith and belief. Death, faith, and passion are what drive Bronte to continue to keep her faith in God and what he stands for. She is spiritual and expresses so within “No Coward Soul Is Mine.” Bronte whole heartedly reveals her views on God through the poem’s theme, provides descriptions of her interpretation of God himself as a character, allows the reader to illustrate what she sees, and also pulls the reader’s attention with her use of passionate and powerful words, while setting the tone of the poem.
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