Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree —
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most constantly?
The wild-rose briar is sweet in the spring,
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who will call the wild-briar fair?
Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly’s sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He may still leave thy garland green.

-Emily Jane Bronte


Emily Bronte was best known for her novel Wuthering Heights. Her pen name as an English poet and novelist was Ellis Bell. She was born in Thornton, West Riding of Yorkshire, England.

Emily’s perception about love is evident through the poem, given how much she had distanced herself from others in her life. She was close to her sisters, Anne and Charlotte but did not mingle very well outside her family circle. She cared for animals and named her mastiff, Keeper. She never married and died at an early age of 30. At that time, an unmarried woman of 30 was deemed as an “old maid”.

The poem begins with a comparison between love and a rose. ‘Wild rose-briar’ implies ‘every rose has its thorns’ same way, if there is love then there is also the pain. Friendship is compared to a holly tree which is dark when the rose blooms. During times of love, friendship falls apart. Love takes over all emotions and it seems like the fragrance of love scent the air (Its summer blossoms scent the air).

But, when its winter, that is, when there are hard times, the rose, like love withers away. But the holly tree, which is friendship, survives in the coldest climate. Holly is a plant which blooms constantly.

Do away with the painful love and embrace friendship so that when December (hard times personified) destroys you, friendship will always save you.



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