I read Timothy Morton much earlier in the week and have been frankly haunted by his paper. One part of his essay particularly kept reoccurring in my mind:”In elegy, the person departs and the enviroment echoes our woe. In ecological thinking, the fear is that we will go on living, while the environment disappears around us. Ultimately, imagine the very air we breathe vanishing–we will literally not be able to have any more elegies, because we will all be dead.” (253) I kept stewing on this line, imagining myself at a podium at earth’s funeral, the world decaying around me and suddenly I would drop dead. When reading Emily Brontë’s “The Night is Darkening Round Me,” I couldn’t help but feel that the poem echoed Timothy Morton’s sentiment.
Audrey did an excellent close reading on the poem, I’m likely going to repeat some of her points, but I am thinking of them in relation to Morton. In Brontë’s poem night is looming and a storm is brewing. The last two lines of each stanza reflect her inability to leave, yet the tone of each shifts. In the first stanza, she says “But A tyrant spell has bound me/ and I cannot, cannot go.” The repetition of cannot makes her seem almost frantic. She has tried to leave, but can’t. Something has bound her to that place in space where she will witness destruction. The next end of the stanza says “And yet I cannot go.” She seems calmer here and more controlled. The physical threats of nature are more tangible, but she appears less afraid. The next stanza ends, “But other drear can move me; I will not, cannot go.” Here, Emily seems to be enacting agency. She cannot go, but she is also choosing not to go.
Brontë’s poem echoes Morton’s idea of the fear of living while nature is destroyed. While the night darkens around Emily, she wishes to leave her environment. However, as its destruction looms closer, she chooses to ultimately stay. Humanity’s natural desire to exist remains even while the world is destroyed around us. The destruction of nature will ultimately destroy us because we are a part of nature, however it seems likely that we will watch the world die because we “will not, cannot go.”