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BRADSTREET, Anne


To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved 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 recompense.
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.



Childhood


Ah me! conceiv'd in sin, and born in sorrow,

A nothing, here to day, but gone to morrow,

Whose mean beginning, blushing can't reveal,

But night and darkness must with shame conceal.

My mother's breeding sickness, I will spare,

Her nine months' weary burden not declare.

To shew her bearing pangs, I should do wrong,

To tell that pain, which can't be told by tongue.

With tears into this world I did arrive;

My mother still did waste, as I did thrive,

Who yet with love and all alacrity,

Spending was willing to be spent for me.

With wayward cries, I did disturb her rest,

Who sought still to appease me with her breast;

With weary arms, she danc'd, and By, By, sung,

When wretched I (ungrate) had done the wrong.

When Infancy was past, my Childishness

Did act all folly that it could express.

My silliness did only take delight

In that which riper age did scorn and slight,

In Rattles, Bables, and such toyish stuff.

My then ambitious thoughts were low enough.

My high-born soul so straitly was confin'd

That its own worth it did not know nor mind.

This little house of flesh did spacious count,

Through ignorance, all troubles did surmount,

Yet this advantage had mine ignorance,

Freedom from Envy and from Arrogance.

How to be rich, or great, I did not cark,

A Baron or a Duke ne'r made my mark,

Nor studious was, Kings favours how to buy,

With costly presents, or base flattery;

No office coveted, wherein I might

Make strong my self and turn aside weak right.

No malice bare to this or that great Peer,

Nor unto buzzing whisperers gave ear.

I gave no hand, nor vote, for death, or life.

I'd nought to do, 'twixt Prince, and peoples' strife.

No Statist I: nor Marti'list i' th' field.

Where e're I went, mine innocence was shield.

My quarrels, not for Diadems, did rise,

But for an Apple, Plumb, or some such prize.

My strokes did cause no death, nor wounds, nor scars.

My little wrath did cease soon as my wars.

My duel was no challenge, nor did seek.

My foe should weltering, with his bowels reek.

I had no Suits at law, neighbours to vex,

Nor evidence for land did me perplex.

I fear'd no storms, nor all the winds that blows.

I had no ships at Sea, no fraughts to loose.

I fear'd no drought, nor wet; I had no crop,

Nor yet on future things did place my hope.

This was mine innocence, but oh the seeds

Lay raked up of all the cursed weeds,

Which sprouted forth in my insuing age,

As he can tell, that next comes on the stage.

But let me yet relate, before I go,

The sins and dangers I am subject to:

From birth stained, with Adam's sinful fact,

From thence I 'gan to sin, as soon as act;

A perverse will, a love to what's forbid;

A serpent's sting in pleasing face lay hid;

A lying tongue as soon as it could speak

And fifth Commandment do daily break;

Oft stubborn, peevish, sullen, pout, and cry;

Then nought can please, and yet I know not why.

As many was my sins, so dangers too,

For sin brings sorrow, sickness, death, and woe,

And though I miss the tossings of the mind,

Yet griefs in my frail flesh I still do find.

What gripes of wind, mine infancy did pain?

What tortures I, in breeding teeth sustain?

What crudities my cold stomach hath bred?

Whence vomits, worms, and flux have issued?

What breaches, knocks, and falls I daily have?

And some perhaps, I carry to my grave.

Sometimes in fire, sometimes in water fall:

Strangely preserv'd, yet mind it not at all.

At home, abroad, my danger's manifold

That wonder 'tis, my glass till now doth hold.

I've done: unto my elders I give way,

For 'tis but little that a child can say.


Contemplations


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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.


21


Under the cooling shadow of a stately Elm

Close sate I by a goodly Rivers 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.
…..

33


O Time the fatal wrack of mortal things,

That draws oblivions curtains over kings,

Their sumptuous monuments, men know them not,

Their names without a Record are forgot,

Their parts, their ports, their pomp’s all laid in th’ dust.

Nor wit, nor gold, nor buildings scape times rust;

But he whose name is grav’d in the white stone

Shall last and shine when all of these are gone.
…..