Several poems compiled with great variety of wit and learning, full of delight wherein especially is contained a compleat discourse, and description of the four elements, constitutions, ages of man, seasons of the year, together with an exact epitome of the three by a gentlewoman in New-England.
Bradstreet, Anne, 1612?-1672.
Page  221

CONTEMPLATIONS.

SOme time now past in the Autumnal Tide,
When Phoebus wanted but one hour to bed,
The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride,
Where gilded o're by his rich golden head.
Their leaves & fruits seem'd painted, but was true
Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hew,
Rapt were my sences at this delectable view.
2
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, wisdome glory, light,
That hath this under world so richly dight:
More Heaven then Earth was here▪ no winter & no night.
3
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.
Page  2224
Then higher on the glistering Sun I gaz'd,
Whose beams was shaded by the leavie 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 Universes Eye,
No wonder, some made thee a Deity:
Had I not better known, (alas) the same had I.
5
Thou as a Bridegroom from thy Chamber r••hes,
And as a strong man, joyes to run a race,
The morn doth usher thee, with smiles & blushes,
The Earth reflects her glances in thy face.
Birds insects, Animals with Vegative,
Thy heart from death and dulness doth revive:
And in the darksome womb of fruitful nature dive.
6
Thy swift Annual, and diurnal Course,
Thy daily streight, and yearly oblique path,
Thy pleasing fervor, and thy scorching force,
All mortals here the feeling knowledg hath
Thy presence makes it day, thy absence night,
Quaternal Seasons caused by thy might:
Hail Creature, full of sweetness, beauty & delight.
7
Art thou so full of glory, that no Eye
Hath strength, thy hining Rayes 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.
Page  2238
Silent alone, where none or saw, or heard,
In pathless paths I lead my wandring feet,
My humble Eyes to lofty Skyes I rear'd
To sing some Song, my mazed Muse thought meet.
My great Creator I would magnifie,
That nature had, thus decked liberally:
But Ah, and Ah, again, my imbecility!
9
I heard the merry grashopper then sing,
The black clad Cricket, bear a second part,
They kept one tune, and plaid on the same string,
Seeming to glory in their little Art.
Shall Creatures abject, thus their voices raise?
And in their kind resound their makers praise:
Whilst I as mute, can warble forth no higher layes.
10
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 moneths and years that long since fled
It makes a man more aged in conceit,
Then was Methusilah, or's grand-sire great:
While of their persons & their acts his mind doth treat.
11
Sometimes in Eden fair, he seems to be,
Sees glorious Adam there made Lord of all,
Fancyes the Apple, dangle on the Tree,
That turn'd his Sovereign to a naked thral▪
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.
Page  22412
Here sits our Grandame 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 lyes.
13
Here Cain and Abel come to sacrfiice,
Fruits of the Earth, and Fatlings each do bring,
On Abels gift the fire descends from Skies,
But no such sign on false Cain's offering;
With sullen hateful looks he goes his wayes.
Hath thousand thoughts to end his brothers dayes,
Upon whose blood his future good he hopes to raise
14
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 gastly 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.
15
Who fancyes not his looks now at the Barr,
His face like death, his heart with horror fraught,
Nor Male-factor ever elt like warr,
When deep dispair, with wish of life hath sought,
Branded with guilt and crusht with treble woes,
A Vagabond to Land of Nd he goes
A City builds, that wals might him secure from foes.
Page  22516
Who thinks not oft upon the Fathers 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 sign'd to see his Progeny,
Cloath'd all in his black sinfull Livery,
Who neither guilt, nor yet the punishment could fly.
17
Our Life compare we with their length of dayes
Who to the tenth of theirs doth now arrive?
And though thus short, we shorten many wayes,
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 light:
18
When I behold the heavens as in their prime,
And then the earth (though old) stil clad in green,
The stones and trees, insensible of time,
Nor age nor wrinkle on their front are seen;
If winter come and greeness then do fade,
A Spring returns, and they more youthfull made▪
But Man grows old, lies down, remains where once he's laid.
20
By birth more noble then those creatures all,
Yet seems by nature and by custome 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.
Page  22620
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, & their bodyes stronger?
Nay, they shall darken, perish, fade and dye,
And when unmade, so ever shall they lye,
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▪
22
While on the stealing stream I ixt mine eye.
Which to the long'd for Ocean held its course,
I markt, nor crooks, nor rubs that there did lye
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
23
Nor is't enough, that thou alone may'st slide,
But hundred brooks in thy cleer 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.
Page  22724
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.
25
Look how the wantons frisk to tast the air,
Then to the colder bottome streight they dive,
Eftsoon to Nptun's glassie 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 sales, their spreading sins their shield.
26
While musing thus with contemplation fed,
And thousand fancies buzzing in my brain,
The sweet-tongu'd Philomel percht ore my head,
And chanted forth a most melodious strain
Which rapt me so with wonder and delight,
I judg'd my hearing better then my sight,
And wisht me wings with her a while to take my flight.
28
O merry Bird (said I) that fears no snares,
That neither toyles nor hoards up in thy barn,
Feels no sad thoughts, nor cruciating cures
To gain more good, or shun what might thee harm
Thy cloaths ne're wear, thy meat is every where.
Thy bed a bough, thy drink the water cleer,
Reminds not what is past, nor whats to come dost fear
Page  22828
The dawning morn with songs thou dost prevent,
Sets hundred notes unto t•• featered crew,
So each one tunes his pretty instrument,
And warbling out the old begn 〈◊〉,
And thus they pass their youth in summer season,
Then follow thee into a better Rg••n,
where winter's never felt by that sweet airy legion
29
Man at the best a creature frail and vain,
In knowledg 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 Relati••
30
And yet this sinfull creature, frail and vain,
This lump of wretchedness, of sin and sorrow
This weather-beaten vessel wrackt with pain,
Joyes 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 Tran∣slation▪
31
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 become great Master of the seas;
But suddenly a storm spoiles all the sport.
And makes him long for a more quiet port.
Which' gainst all adverse winds may serve for ort.
Page  22932
So he that saileth in this world of pleasure,
Feeding on sweets, that never bit of th' sowre,
That's full of friends, of honour and of treasure,
Fond fool, he takes this earth ev'n for heav'ns bow¦er.
But sad affliction comes & makes him see
Here's neither honour, wealth, nor safety;
Only above is found all with security.
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.