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Famous Poets:

  bullet   Maya Angelou
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  bullet   Anne Bradstreet
  bullet   The Brontė Sisters
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  bullet   Lord Byron
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  bullet   William Butler Yeats

Anne Bradstreet

Born: 1612 ? // Died:1672

Anne Bradstreet One of the first poets to write English verse in the American colonies. Long considered primarily of historical interest, she won critical acceptance in the 20th century as a writer of enduring verse, particularly for her sequence of religious poems "Contemplations," written for her family and not published until the mid-19th century. Known to be one of the greatest poets of the 17th century, Anne Bradstreet was born in Northamptonshire, England, ca. 1612-13, daughter to Thomas Dudley, a clerk, and Dorothy Yorke. By 1619 Dudley became steward to the earl of Lincolnshire at Sempringham, and three years later acquired Anne's future husband, Simon Bradstreet, as an assistant, freshly graduated from Cambridge University. Anne and Simon married in 1628 and lived in the household of the countess of Warwick until they emigrated--with the Dudleys--on a ship named the Arbella to America. Anne was only 18 years old but had benefited from a good education in the noble households in which she had stayed. She was a firm puritan in religion. After short stays in Salem, Charlestown, and Newtown (now Cambridge), they all settled in Ipswich. Here she had eight children in a exceptionally happy marriage and wrote many of the poems that were eventually published in The Tenth Muse (London: Stephen Bowtell, 1650) after her brother-in-law surreptitiously took her manuscript back with him to England and had it printed without her knowledge. The Bradstreets moved in Andover, Mass., in the mid-1640s and Anne lived until her death in 1672. Six years after her death a second edition of her poems appeared, Several Poems (Boston: John Foster, 1678), described as "Corrected by the Author, and enlarged by an Addition of several other Poems found amongst her Papers after her Death."

  Anne Bradstreet's Poetry: (click on a title to read a poem)
  The Author to her Book   By Night When Others...   The Flesh and the Spirit
  In Reference to her...   Prologue   To my Dear and Loving...
  Verses upon the Burning...   Contemplations   Upon Some Distemper of...
  To Her Father with Some...   Another   The Vanity of All Worldly...

The Author to her Book
Thou ill-form'd offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did'st by my side remain,
Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad expos'd to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call.
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight,
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I wash'd thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet.
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun Cloth, i' th' house I find.
In this array, 'mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam.
In Critics' hands, beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known.
If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none;
And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus'd her thus to send thee out of door.

By Night When Others Soundly Slept
By night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.
I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bow'd his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.
My hungry Soul he fill'd with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.
What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I'll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Loue him to Eternity.

The Flesh and the Spirit
In secret place where once I stood
Close by the Banks of Lacrim flood,
I heard two sisters reason on
Things that are past and things to come.
One Flesh was call'd, who had her eye
On worldly wealth and vanity;
The other Spirit, who did rear
Her thoughts unto a higher sphere.
"Sister," quoth Flesh, "what liv'st thou on
Nothing but Meditation?
Doth Contemplation feed thee so
Regardlessly to let earth go?
Can Speculation satisfy
Notion without Reality?
Dost dream of things beyond the Moon
And dost thou hope to dwell there soon?
Hast treasures there laid up in store
That all in th' world thou count'st but poor?
Art fancy-sick or turn'd a Sot
To catch at shadows which are not?
Come, come. I'll show unto thy sense,
Industry hath its recompence.
What canst desire, but thou maist see
True substance in variety?
Dost honour like? Acquire the same,
As some to their immortal fame;
And trophies to thy name erect
Which wearing time shall ne'er deject.
For riches dost thou long full sore?
Behold enough of precious store.
Earth hath more silver, pearls, and gold
Than eyes can see or hands can hold.
Affects thou pleasure? Take thy fill.
Earth hath enough of what you will.
Then let not go what thou maist find
For things unknown only in mind."
"Be still, thou unregenerate part,
Disturb no more my settled heart,
For I have vow'd (and so will do)
Thee as a foe still to pursue,
And combat with thee will and must
Until I see thee laid in th' dust.
Sister we are, yea twins we be,
Yet deadly feud 'twixt thee and me,
For from one father are we not.
Thou by old Adam wast begot,
But my arise is from above,
Whence my dear father I do love.
Thou speak'st me fair but hat'st me sore.
Thy flatt'ring shews I'll trust no more.
How oft thy slave hast thou me made
When I believ'd what thou hast said
And never had more cause of woe
Than when I did what thou bad'st do.
I'll stop mine ears at these thy charms
And count them for my deadly harms.
Thy sinful pleasures I do hate,
Thy riches are to me no bait.
Thine honours do, nor will I love,
For my ambition lies above.
My greatest honour it shall be
When I am victor over thee,
And Triumph shall, with laurel head,
When thou my Captive shalt be led.
How I do live, thou need'st not scoff,
For I have meat thou know'st not of.
The hidden Manna I do eat;
The word of life, it is my meat.
My thoughts do yield me more content
Than can thy hours in pleasure spent.
Nor are they shadows which I catch,
Nor fancies vain at which I snatch
But reach at things that are so high,
Beyond thy dull Capacity.
Eternal substance I do see
With which inriched I would be.
Mine eye doth pierce the heav'ns and see
What is Invisible to thee.
My garments are not silk nor gold,
Nor such like trash which Earth doth hold,
But Royal Robes I shall have on,
More glorious than the glist'ring Sun.
My Crown not Diamonds, Pearls, and gold,
But such as Angels' heads infold.
The City where I hope to dwell,
There's none on Earth can parallel.
The stately Walls both high and trong
Are made of precious Jasper stone,
The Gates of Pearl, both rich and clear,
And Angels are for Porters there.
The Streets thereof transparent gold
Such as no Eye did e're behold.
A Crystal River there doth run
Which doth proceed from the Lamb's Throne.
Of Life, there are the waters sure
Which shall remain forever pure.
Nor Sun nor Moon they have no need
For glory doth from God proceed.
No Candle there, nor yet Torch light,
For there shall be no darksome night.
From sickness and infirmity
Forevermore they shall be free.
Nor withering age shall e're come there,
But beauty shall be bright and clear.
This City pure is not for thee,
For things unclean there shall not be.
If I of Heav'n may have my fill,
Take thou the world, and all that will."

In Reference to her Children, 23 June 1659
I had eight birds hatcht in one nest,
Four Cocks were there, and Hens the rest.
I nurst them up with pain and care,
No cost nor labour did I spare
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the Trees and learned to sing.
Chief of the Brood then took his flight
To Regions far and left me quite.
My mournful chirps I after send
Till he return, or I do end.
Leave not thy nest, thy Dame and Sire,
Fly back and sing amidst this Quire.
My second bird did take her flight
And with her mate flew out of sight.
Southward they both their course did bend,
And Seasons twain they there did spend,
Till after blown by Southern gales
They Norward steer'd with filled sails.
A prettier bird was no where seen,
Along the Beach, among the treen.
I have a third of colour white
On whom I plac'd no small delight,
Coupled with mate loving and true,
Hath also bid her Dame adieu.
And where Aurora first appears,
She now hath percht to spend her years.
One to the Academy flew
To chat among that learned crew.
Ambition moves still in his breast
That he might chant above the rest,
Striving for more than to do well,
That nightingales he might excell.
My fifth, whose down is yet scarce gone,
Is 'mongst the shrubs and bushes flown
And as his wings increase in strength
On higher boughs he'll perch at length.
My other three still with me nest
Until they're grown, then as the rest,
Or here or there, they'll take their flight,
As is ordain'd, so shall they light.
If birds could weep, then would my tears
Let others know what are my fears
Lest this my brood some harm should catch
And be surpris'd for want of watch
Whilst pecking corn and void of care
They fall un'wares in Fowler's snare;
Or whilst on trees they sit and sing
Some untoward boy at them do fling,
Or whilst allur'd with bell and glass
The net be spread and caught, alas;
Or lest by Lime-twigs they be foil'd;
Or by some greedy hawks be spoil'd.
O would, my young, ye saw my breast
And knew what thoughts there sadly rest.
Great was my pain when I you bred,
Great was my care when I you fed.
Long did I keep you soft and warm
And with my wings kept off all harm.
My cares are more, and fears, than ever,
My throbs such now as 'fore were never.
Alas, my birds, you wisdom want
Of perils you are ignorant.
Oft times in grass, on trees, in flight,
Sore accidents on you may light.
O to your safety have an eye,
So happy may you live and die.
Mean while, my days in tunes I'll spend
Till my weak lays with me shall end.
In shady woods I'll sit and sing
And things that past, to mind I'll bring.
Once young and pleasant, as are you,
But former toys (no joys) adieu!
My age I will not once lament
But sing, my time so near is spent,
And from the top bough take my flight
Into a country beyond sight
Where old ones instantly grow young
And there with seraphims set song.
No seasons cold, nor storms they see
But spring lasts to eternity.
When each of you shall in your nest
Among your young ones take your rest,
In chirping languages oft them tell
You had a Dame that lov'd you well,
That did what could be done for young
And nurst you up till you were strong
And 'fore she once would let you fly
She shew'd you joy and misery,
Taught what was good, and what was ill,
What would save life, and what would kill.
Thus gone, amongst you I may live,
And dead, yet speak and counsel give.
Farewell, my birds, farewell, adieu,
I happy am, if well with you.

To sing of Wars, of Captains, and of Kings,
Of Cities founded, Common-wealths begun,
For my mean Pen are too superior things;
Or how they all, or each their dates have run,
Let Poets and Historians set these forth.
My obscure lines shall not so dim their worth.
But when my wond'ring eyes and envious heart
Great Bartas' sugar'd lines do but read o'er,
Fool, I do grudge the Muses did not part
'Twixt him and me that over-fluent store.
A Bartas can do what a Bartas will
But simple I according to my skill.
From School-boy's tongue no Rhet'ric we expect,
Nor yet a sweet Consort from broken strings,
Nor perfect beauty where's a main defect.
My foolish, broken, blemished Muse so sings,
And this to mend, alas, no Art is able,
'Cause Nature made it so irreparable.
Nor can I, like that fluent sweet-tongued Greek
Who lisp'd at first, in future times speak plain.
By Art he gladly found what he did seek,
A full requital of his striving pain.
Art can do much, but this maxim's most sure:
A weak or wounded brain admits no cure.
I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits.
A Poet's Pen all scorn I should thus wrong,
For such despite they cast on female wits.
If what I do prove well, it won't advance,
They'll say it's stol'n, or else it was by chance.
But sure the antique Greeks were far more mild,
Else of our Sex, why feigned they those nine
And poesy made Calliope's own child?
So 'mongst the rest they placed the Arts divine,
But this weak knot they will full soon untie.
The Greeks did nought but play the fools and lie.
Let Greeks be Greeks, and Women what they are.
Men have precedency and still excel;
It is but vain unjustly to wage war.
Men can do best, and Women know it well.
Preeminence in all and each is yours;
Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours.
And oh ye high flown quills that soar the skies,
And ever with your prey still catch your praise,
If e'er you deign these lowly lines your eyes,
Give thyme or Parsley wreath, I ask no Bays.
This mean and unrefined ore of mine
Will make your glist'ring gold but more to shine.

To my Dear and Loving Husband
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompetence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay.
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persever
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 18th, 1666
Here follows some verses upon the burning
of our house, July. 18th. 1666. Copyed out of
a loose Paper.
In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I waken'd was with thund'ring noise
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.
That fearful sound of "fire" and "fire,"
Let no man know is my Desire.
I starting up, the light did spy,
And to my God my heart did cry
To straighten me in my Distress
And not to leave me succourless.
Then coming out, behold a space
The flame consume my dwelling place.
And when I could no longer look,
I blest his grace that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so 'twas just.
It was his own; it was not mine.
Far be it that I should repine,
He might of all justly bereft
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the Ruins oft I past
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast
And here and there the places spy
Where oft I sate and long did lie.
Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest,
There lay that store I counted best,
My pleasant things in ashes lie
And them behold no more shall I.
Under the roof no guest shall sit,
Nor at thy Table eat a bit.
No pleasant talk shall 'ere be told
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle 'ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom's voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lie.
Adieu, Adieu, All's Vanity.
Then straight I 'gin my heart to chide:
And did thy wealth on earth abide,
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the sky
That dunghill mists away may fly.
Thou hast a house on high erect
Fram'd by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished
Stands permanent, though this be fled.
It's purchased and paid for too
By him who hath enough to do.
A price so vast as is unknown,
Yet by his gift is made thine own.
There's wealth enough; I need no more.
Farewell, my pelf; farewell, my store.
The world no longer let me love;
My hope and Treasure lies above

Sometime now past in the Autumnal Tide,
When Ph{oe}bus wanted but one hour to bed,
The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride,
Were gilded o're by his rich golden head.
Their leaves and fruits seem'd painted but was true
Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hew,
Rapt were my senses at this delectable view.

I wist not what to wish, yet sure thought I,
If so much excellence abide below,
How excellent is he that dwells on high?
Whose power and beauty by his works we know.
Sure he is goodness, wisdom, glory, light,
That hath this under world so richly dight.
More Heaven than Earth was here, no winter and no night.

Then on a stately Oak I cast mine Eye,
Whose ruffling top the Clouds seem'd to aspire.
How long since thou wast in thine Infancy?
Thy strength and stature, more thy years admire,
Hath hundred winters past since thou wast born?
Or thousand since thou brakest thy shell of horn?
If so, all these as nought, Eternity doth scorn.

Then higher on the glistering Sun I gaz'd,
Whose beams was shaded by the leafy Tree.
The more I look'd, the more I grew amaz'd
And softly said, what glory's like to thee?
Soul of this world, this Universe's Eye,
No wonder some made thee a Deity.
Had I not better known (alas) the same had I.

Thou as a Bridegroom from thy Chamber rushes
And as a strong man joys to run a race.
The morn doth usher thee with smiles and blushes.
The Earth reflects her glances in thy face.
Birds, insects, Animals with Vegative,
Thy heat from death and dullness doth revive
And in the darksome womb of fruitful nature dive.

Thy swift Annual and diurnal Course,
Thy daily straight and yearly oblique path,
Thy pleasing fervour, and thy scorching force,
All mortals here the feeling knowledge hath.
Thy presence makes it day, thy absence night,
Quaternal seasons caused by thy might.
Hail Creature, full of sweetness, beauty, and delight!

Art thou so full of glory that no Eye
Hath strength thy shining Rays once to behold?
And is thy splendid Throne erect so high
As, to approach it, can no earthly mould?
How full of glory then must thy Creator be!
Who gave this bright light luster unto thee.
Admir'd, ador'd for ever be that Majesty!

Silent alone where none or saw or heard,
In pathless paths I lead my wand'ring feet.
My humble Eyes to lofty Skies I rear'd
To sing some Song my mazed Muse thought meet.
My great Creator I would magnify
That nature had thus decked liberally,
But Ah and Ah again, my imbecility!

I heard the merry grasshopper then sing,
The black clad Cricket bear a second part.
They kept one tune and played on the same string,
Seeming to glory in their little Art.
Shall creatures abject thus their voices raise
And in their kind resound their maker's praise
Whilst I, as mute, can warble forth no higher lays?

When present times look back to Ages past
And men in being fancy those are dead,
It makes things gone perpetually to last
And calls back months and years that long since fled.
It makes a man more aged in conceit
Than was Methuselah or's grand-sire great,
While of their persons and their acts his mind doth treat.

Sometimes in Eden fair he seems to be,
See glorious Adam there made Lord of all,
Fancies the Apple dangle on the Tree
That turn'd his Sovereign to a naked thrall,
Who like a miscreant's driven from that place
To get his bread with pain and sweat of face.
A penalty impos'd on his backsliding Race.

Here sits our Grand-dame in retired place
And in her lap her bloody Cain new born.
The weeping Imp oft looks her in the face,
Bewails his unknown hap and fate forlorn.
His Mother sighs to think of Paradise
And how she lost her bliss to be more wise,
Believing him that was and is Father of lies.

Here Cain and Abel come to sacrifice,
Fruits of the Earth and Fatlings each do bring.
On Abel's gift the fire descends from Skies,
But no such sign on false Cain's offering.
With sullen hateful looks he goes his ways,
Hath thousand thoughts to end his brother's days,
Upon whose blood his future good he hopes to raise.

There Abel keeps his sheep, no ill he thinks,
His brother comes, then acts his fratricide.
The Virgin Earth of blood her first draught drinks,
But since that time she often hath been cloy'd.
The wretch with ghastly face and dreadful mind
Thinks each he sees will serve him in his kind,
Though none on Earth but kindred near then could he find.

Who fancies not his looks now at the Bar,
His face like death, his heart with horror fraught.
Nor Male-factor ever felt like war,
When deep despair with wish of life hath fought,
Branded with guilt, and crusht with treble woes,
A Vagabond to Land of Nod he goes,
A City builds that walls might him secure from foes.

Who thinks not oft upon the Father's ages?
Their long descent, how nephews' sons they saw,
The starry observations of those Sages,
And how their precepts to their sons were law,
How Adam sigh'd to see his Progeny
Cloth'd all in his black, sinful Livery,
Who neither guilt not yet the punishment could fly.

Our life compare we with their length of days.
Who to the tenth of theirs doth now arrive?
And though thus short, we shorten many ways,
Living so little while we are alive.
In eating, drinking, sleeping, vain delight
So unawares comes on perpetual night
And puts all pleasures vain unto eternal flight.

When I behold the heavens as in their prime
And then the earth (though old) still clad in green,
The stones and trees, insensible of time,
Nor age nor wrinkle on their front are seen.
If winter come and greenness then do fade,
A Spring returns, and they more youthful made,
But Man grows old, lies down, remains where once he's laid.

By birth more noble than those creatures all,
Yet seems by nature and by custom curs'd,
No sooner born but grief and care makes fall
That state obliterate he had at first:
Nor youth, nor strength, nor wisdom spring again,
Nor habitations long their names retain
But in oblivion to the final day remain.

Shall I then praise the heavens, the trees, the earth,
Because their beauty and their strength last longer?
Shall I wish there, or never to had birth,
Because they're bigger and their bodies stronger?
Nay, they shall darken, perish, fade and die,
And when unmade, so ever shall they lie.
But man was made for endless immortality.

Under the cooling shadow of a stately Elm
Close sate I by a goodly River's side,
Where gliding streams the Rocks did overwhelm.
A lonely place, with pleasures dignifi'd.
I once that lov'd the shady woods so well,
Now thought the rivers did the trees excel,
And if the sun would ever shine, there would I dwell.

While on the stealing stream I fixt mine eye,
Which to the long'd-for Ocean held its course,
I markt nor crooks, nor rubs that there did lie
Could hinder ought but still augment its force.
O happy Flood, quoth I, that holds thy race
Till thou arrive at thy beloved place,
Nor is it rocks or shoals that can obstruct thy pace.

Nor is't enough that thou alone may'st slide,
But hundred brooks in thy clear waves do meet,
So hand in hand along with thee they glide
To Thetis' house, where all imbrace and greet.
Thou Emblem true of what I count the best,
O could I lead my Rivolets to rest,
So may we press to that vast mansion, ever blest.

Ye Fish which in this liquid Region 'bide
That for each season have your habitation,
Now salt, now fresh where you think best to glide
To unknown coasts to give a visitation,
In Lakes and ponds, you leave your numerous fry.
So Nature taught, and yet you know not why,
You watry folk that know not your felicity.

Look how the wantons frisk to task the air,
Then to the colder bottom straight they dive;
Eftsoon to Neptune's glassy Hall repair
To see what trade they, great ones, there do drive,
Who forrage o're the spacious sea-green field
And take the trembling prey before it yield,
Whose armour is their scales, their spreading fins their shield.

While musing thus with contemplation fed,
And thousand fancies buzzing in my brain,
The sweet-tongu'd Philomel percht o're my head
And chanted forth a most melodious strain
Which rapt me so with wonder and delight
I judg's my hearing better than my sight
And wisht me wings with her a while to take my flight.

O merry Bird (said I) that fears no snares,
That neither toils nor hoards up in thy barn,
Feels no sad thoughts nor cruciating cares
To gain more good or shun what might thee harm--
Thy clothes ne'er wear, thy meat is everywhere,
Thy bed a bough, thy drink the water clear--
Reminds not what is past, nor what's to come dost fear.

The dawning morn with songs thou dost prevent,
Sets hundred notes unto thy feathered crew,
So each one tunes his pretty instrument
And warbling out the old, begin anew,
And thus they pass their youth in summer season,
Then follow thee into a better Region,
Where winter's never felt by that sweet airy legion.

Man at the best a creature frail and vain,
In knowledge ignorant, in strength but weak,
Subject to sorrows, losses, sickness, pain,
Each storm his state, his mind, his body break--
From some of these he never finds cessation
But day or night, within, without, vexation,
Troubles from foes, from friends, from dearest, near'st Relation.

And yet this sinful creature, frail and vain,
This lump of wretchedness, of sin and sorrow,
This weather-beaten vessel wrackt with pain,
Joys not in hope of an eternal morrow.
Nor all his losses, crosses, and vexation,
In weight, in frequency and long duration
Can make him deeply groan for that divine Translation.

The Mariner that on smooth waves doth glide
Sings merrily and steers his Barque with ease
As if he had command of wind and tide
And now becomes great Master of the seas,
But suddenly a storm spoils all the sport
And makes him long for a more quiet port,
Which 'gainst all adverse winds may serve for fort.

So he that faileth in this world of pleasure,
Feeding on sweets that never bit of th' sour,
That's full of friends, of honour, and of treasure,
Fond fool, he takes this earth ev'n for heav'ns bower,
But sad affliction comes and makes him see
Here's neither honour, wealth, or safety.
Only above is found all with security.

O Time the fatal wrack of mortal things
That draws oblivion's curtains over kings,
Their sumptuous monuments, men know them not;
Their names with a Record are forgot,
Their parts, their ports, their pomp's all laid in th' dust.
Nor wit, nor gold, nor buildings scape time's rust,
But he whose name is grav'd in the white stone
Shall last and shine when all of these are gone.

Upon Some Distemper of Body
In anguish of my heart replete with woes,
And wasting pains, which best my body knows,
In tossing slumbers on my wakeful bed,
Bedrenched with tears that flowed from mournful head,
Till nature had exhausted all her store,
Then eyes lay dry, disabled to weep more;
And looking up unto his throne on high,
Who sendeth help to those in misery;
He chased away those clouds and let me see
My anchor cast i' th' vale with safety.
He eased my soul of woe, my flesh of pain,
and brought me to the shore from troubled main.

To Her Father with Some Verses
Most truly honoured, and as truly dear,
If worth in me or ought I do appear,
Who can of right better demand the same
Than may your worthy self from whom it came?
The principal might yield a greater sum,
Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb;
My stock's so small I know not how to pay,
My bond remains in force unto this day;
Yet for part payment take this simple mite,
Where nothing's to be had, kings loose their right.
Such is my debt I may not say forgive,
But as I can, I'll pay it while I live;
Such is my bond, none can discharge but I,
Yet paying is not paid until I die.

Phoebus make haste, the day's too long, be gone,
The silent night's the fittest time for moan;
But stay this once, unto my suit give ear,
And tell my griefs in either hemisphere.
(And if the whirling of thy wheels don't drown'd)
The woeful accents of my doleful sound,
If in thy swift carrier thou canst make stay,
I crave this boon, this errand by the way,
Commend me to the man more loved than life,
Show him the sorrows of his widowed wife;
My dumpish thoughts, my groans, my brakish tears
My sobs, my longing hopes, my doubting fears,
And if he love, how can he there abide?
My interest's more than all the world beside.
He that can tell the stars or ocean sand,
Or all the grass that in the meads do stand,
The leaves in th' woods, the hail, or drops of rain,
Or in a corn-field number every grain,
Or every mote that in the sunshine hops,
May count my sighs, and number all my drops.
Tell him the countless steps that thou dost trace,
That once a day thy spouse thou may'st embrace;
And when thou canst not treat by loving mouth,
Thy rays afar salute her from the south.
But for one month I see no day (poor soul)
Like those far situate under the pole,
Which day by day long wait for thy arise,
O how they joy when thou dost light the skies.
O Phoebus, hadst thou but thus long from thine
Restrained the beams of thy beloved shine,
At thy return, if so thou could'st or durst,
Behold a Chaos blacker than the first.
Tell him here's worse than a confused matter,
His little world's a fathom under water.
Nought but the fervor of his ardent beams
Hath power to dry the torrent of these streams.
Tell him I would say more, but cannot well,
Oppressed minds abruptest tales do tell.
Now post with double speed, mark what I say,
By all our loves conjure him not to stay.

The Vanity of All Worldly Things
As he said vanity, so vain say I,
Oh! Vanity, O vain all under sky;
Where is the man can say, "Lo, I have found
On brittle earth a consolation sound"?
What isn't in honor to be set on high?
No, they like beasts and sons of men shall die,
And whilst they live, how oft doth turn their fate;
He's now a captive that was king of late.
What isn't in wealth great treasures to obtain?
No, that's but labor, anxious care, and pain.
He heaps up riches, and he heaps up sorrow,
It's his today, but who's his heir tomorrow?
What then? Content in pleasures canst thou find?
More vain than all, that's but to grasp the wind.
The sensual senses for a time they pleasure,
Meanwhile the conscience rage, who shall appease?
What isn't in beauty? No that's but a snare,
They're foul enough today, that once were fair.
What is't in flow'ring youth, or manly age?
The first is prone to vice, the last to rage.
Where is it then, in wisdom, learning, arts?
Sure if on earth, it must be in those parts;
Yet these the wisest man of men did find
But vanity, vexation of the mind.
And he that know the most doth still bemoan
He knows not all that here is to be known.
What is it then? To do as stoics tell,
Nor laugh, nor weep, let things go ill or well?
Such stoics are but stocks, such teaching vain,
While man is man, he shall have ease or pain.
If not in honor, beauty, age, nor treasure,
Nor yet in learning, wisdom, youth, nor pleasure,
Where shall I climb, sound, seek, search, or find
That summum bonum which may stay my mind?
There is a path no vulture's eye hath seen,
Where lion fierce, nor lion's whelps have been,
Which leads unto that living crystal fount,
Who drinks thereof, the world doth naught account.
The depth and sea have said " 'tis not in me,"
With pearl and gold it shall not valued be.
For sapphire, onyx, topaz who would change;
It's hid from eyes of men, they count it strange.
Death and destruction the fame hath heard,
But where and what it is, from heaven's declared;
It brings to honor which shall ne'er decay,
It stores with wealth which time can't wear away.
It yieldeth pleasures far beyond conceit,
And truly beautifies without deceit.
Nor strength, nor wisdom, nor fresh youth shall fade,
Nor death shall see, but are immortal made.
This pearl of price, this tree of life, this spring,
Who is possessed of shall reign a king.
Nor change of state nor cares shall ever see,
But wear his crown unto eternity.
This satiates the soul, this stays the mind,
And all the rest, but vanity we find.

Anne Bradstreet, manuscript of meditations, Stevens Memorial Library, North Andover, Mass., reproduced in Anne Bradstreet, The Tenth Muse (1650), a facsimile reproduction with an introduction by Josephine K.

Anne Bradstreet, Several Poems, 2nd edn. (Boston: John Foster, 1678). Cf. The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet, ed. Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., and Allan P. Robb (Boston: Twayne, 1981): 175-176, 177-178, 184-186. First Publication Date: 1678.

The Tenth Muse Lately sprung up in America. By a Gentlewoman in those parts (London: Stephen Bowtell, 1650): 3-4. See Anne Bradstreet, The Tenth Muse (1650), a facsimile reproduction with an introducti First Publication Date: 1650.

Anne Bradstreet, Several Poems, 2nd edn. (Boston: John Foster, 1678). Cf. The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet, ed. Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., and Allan P. Robb (Boston: Twayne, 1981): 180. First Publication Date: 1678.

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