I saw the last of a two part TV series on the Bronte sisters this afternoon.1
The Brontes are, arguably, literature’s most famous sisters, certainly most famous threesome. Their rise to fame in the literary world and the tragedy of their lives in England could be compared to the rise and the tragic years of the Babi Faith in Persia, all in the same 1840s and early 1850s. Both the Bab and the sisters were all born in the last years of the second decade of the nineteenth century, 1816 to 1819. Until 1848 the Movement of the Bab and the writing of the three sisters enjoyed much success. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were published in 1847. The Cause of the Bab flourished in its early years 1844-1847.
But in 1848 and 1849 two of the Bronte sisters died and their brother. In Persia the great massacres of Babis began to take place: 1848-1852. Charlotte died in 1854 at 38. In October 1848 the Babi uprising at Tabarsi began and an insurrectionary period that was to last for four years and with it the loss of the Bab’s popular mass appeal.2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1ABC TV,“In Search of the Brontes,” 2:00-3:00 p.m. March 13th 2005; and 2Peter Smith, The Babi and Baha’i Religions, George Ronald, 1987, p.53.
The wings of hovered,
consumed the fabric of their lives,
took their existence to its lowest ebb
and to what end one might ask?
They finished their days
in obscure, isolated, windswept
corners of this earthly realm, this
mortal coil, with their talents speeding
to their end. Did their deaths set
the seal of failure on their lives?
Such glorious conceptions, such
heroic deeds and, then, gone!
What an apparent, a colossal disaster!
The flame snuffed out by fate’s finger,
swiftly receding into the shadows
of omnipotence and oblivion,
all hope seemingly vanished.
The tide of artistic beauty gone out
and, with it, the tide of enthusiasm
for a Cause crushed to dust,
its devotees cowed and exhausted.
Perhaps we see here just
a fiery phase of transition
on the path to a high destiny,
to an ascendancy that would find
its inspiration in the desperate,
prolonged disappointments of that hour
when new notes were sounded.
Perhaps the yet unborn,
with a cunning that is so
mysteriously subtle come to live
and have their being implanted
by some dispensations of Providence
in their very souls, unbeknownst.
March 13 2005