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IN REFERENCE TO HER CHILDREN, 23 JUNE 1659










IN REFERENCE TO HER CHILDREN, 23 JUNE 1659

1 I had eight birds hatcht in one nest,
2 Four Cocks were there, and Hens the rest.
3 I nurst them up with pain and care,
4 No cost nor labour did I spare
5 Till at the last they felt their wing,
6 Mounted the Trees and learned to sing.
7 Chief of the Brood then took his flight
8 To Regions far and left me quite.
9 My mournful chirps I after send
10 Till he return, or I do end.
11 Leave not thy nest, thy Dame and Sire,
12 Fly back and sing amidst this Quire.
13My second bird did take her flight
14 And with her mate flew out of sight.
15 Southward they both their course did bend,
16 And Seasons twain they there did spend,
17 Till after blown by Southern gales
18 They Norward steer'd with filled sails.
19 A prettier bird was no where seen,
20 Along the Beach, among the treen.
21 I have a third of colour white
22 On whom I plac'd no small delight,
23 Coupled with mate loving and true,
24 Hath also bid her Dame adieu.
25 And where Aurora first appears,
26 She now hath percht to spend her years.
27 One to the Academy flew
28 To chat among that learned crew.
29 Ambition moves still in his breast
30 That he might chant above the rest,
31 Striving for more than to do well,
32 That nightingales he might excell.
33 My fifth, whose down is yet scarce gone,
34 Is 'mongst the shrubs and bushes flown
35 And as his wings increase in strength
36 On higher boughs he'll perch at length.
37 My other three still with me nest
38 Until they're grown, then as the rest,
39 Or here or there, they'll take their flight,
40 As is ordain'd, so shall they light.
41 If birds could weep, then would my tears
42 Let others know what are my fears
43 Lest this my brood some harm should catch
44 And be surpris'd for want of watch
45 Whilst pecking corn and void of care
46 They fall un'wares in Fowler's snare;
47 Or whilst on trees they sit and sing
48 Some untoward boy at them do fling,
49 Or whilst allur'd with bell and glass
50 The net be spread and caught, alas;
51 Or lest by Lime-twigs they be foil'd;
52 Or by some greedy hawks be spoil'd.
53 O would, my young, ye saw my breast
54 And knew what thoughts there sadly rest.
55 Great was my pain when I you bred,
56 Great was my care when I you fed.
57 Long did I keep you soft and warm
58 And with my wings kept off all harm.
59 My cares are more, and fears, than ever,
60 My throbs such now as 'fore were never.
61 Alas, my birds, you wisdom want
62 Of perils you are ignorant.
63 Oft times in grass, on trees, in flight,
64 Sore accidents on you may light.
65 O to your safety have an eye,
66 So happy may you live and die.
67 Mean while, my days in tunes I'll spend
68 Till my weak lays with me shall end.
69 In shady woods I'll sit and sing
70 And things that past, to mind I'll bring.
71 Once young and pleasant, as are you,
72 But former toys (no joys) adieu!
73 My age I will not once lament
74 But sing, my time so near is spent,
75 And from the top bough take my flight
76 Into a country beyond sight
77 Where old ones instantly grow young
78 And there with seraphims set song.
79 No seasons cold, nor storms they see
80 But spring lasts to eternity.
81 When each of you shall in your nest
82 Among your young ones take your rest,
83 In chirping languages oft them tell
84 You had a Dame that lov'd you well,
85 That did what could be done for young
86 And nurst you up till you were strong
87 And 'fore she once would let you fly
88 She shew'd you joy and misery,
89 Taught what was good, and what was ill,
90 What would save life, and what would kill.
91 Thus gone, amongst you I may live,
92 And dead, yet speak and counsel give.
93 Farewell, my birds, farewell, adieu,
94 I happy am, if well with you.

Form: couplets.

7. Chief of the brood: Samuel, born 1633-34 (White 227).

13. second bird: Dorothy (White 311-12).

20. treen: trees (old plural form).

21. a third: Sarah, born ca. 1638 (White 158).

25. Aurora: Greek goddess of the dawn (hence first appearing in the east).

27. One to the Academy: Simon, Jr., born Sept. 28, 1640 (White 158).

33. My fifth: Dudley (White 312).

37. My other three: Hannah, Mercy, and John.

51. lime-twigs: birdlime, a sticky matter made from holly bark and smeared on twigs to catch small birds.

Before the Birth of One of Her Children*

1 All things within this fading world hath end,
2 Adversity doth still our joys attend;
3 No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet,
4 But with death's parting blow is sure to meet.
5 The sentence past is most irrevocable,
6 A common thing, yet oh, inevitable.
7 How soon, my Dear, death may my steps attend.
8 How soon't may be thy lot to lose thy friend,
9 We both are ignorant, yet love bids me
10 These farewell lines to recommend to thee,
11 That when that knot's untied that made us one,
12 I may seem thine, who in effect am none.
13 And if I see not half my days that's due,
14 What nature would, God grant to yours and you;
15 The many faults that well you know
16 I have Let be interred in my oblivious grave;
17 If any worth or virtue were in me,
18 Let that live freshly in thy memory
19 And when thou feel'st no grief, as I no harms,
20 Yet love thy dead, who long lay in thine arms.
21 And when thy loss shall be repaid with gains
22 Look to my little babes, my dear remains.
23 And if thou love thyself, or loved'st me,
24 These O protect from step-dame's injury.
25 And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this verse,
26 With some sad sighs honour my absent hearse;
27 And kiss this paper for thy love's dear sake,
28 Who with salt tears this last farewell did take.

Form: couplets.

* Childbirth was dangerous in Anneís day, and her poor health made it more so. It was likely that she could have died at the birth of any of her children.

24. step-dame: stepmother

Upon my Daughter Hannahís recovery from a dangerous fever

1 Blesít bee thy Name who didíst restore
2 To health my Daughter dear
3 When death did seem evín to approach
4 And life was ended near.
5 Gravnt shee rember wt thovíst done
6 And celebrate thy praise
7 And let her Conversation say
8 Shee loues thee all thy Dayes.

1 blesít: blessed

3 evín: even

5 Gravnt: grant / rember: remember / wt: what / thovíst: you have

8 loues: loves / Dayes: days

 

Upon my Son Simon his going to England November 6, 1657

1 Thou mighty God of Sea and Land
2 I here resigne into thy hand,
3 The Son of prayers, of vowes, of teares
4 The child I stayíd for many yeares.
5 Thou heardst me then and gavíst him me
6 Hear me again, I giue him Thee
7 Heís mine, but more O Lord thine own
8 For sure thy Grace on him is shown.
9 No friend I have like Thee to trust
10 For mortall helps are brittle Dvst.
11 Prserve O Lord from stormes & wrack
12 Protect him there & bring him back.
13 And if thou shalt spare me a space
14 That I again may see his face,
15 Then shall I celebrate thy praise
16 And Blesse the forít even all my Dayes.
17 If otherwise I goe to Rest
18 Thy Will bee done, for that is best
19 Perswade my heart I shall him see
20 For ever happefyíd wth

 

3&4 Anne was very upset that she did not have children right away; she prayed for a child for 5 yrs. before Simon was born

6 "I giue him Thee": I give him back to you

10 "For mortall helps are brittle Dvst": for mortal helps are brittle dust; the help of other humans is worthless

11 "Prserve O Lord from stormes & wrack": preserve, O Lord, from storms and wrecks

 

In Memory of my dear grand-child, Anne Bradstreet,
Who deceased June 20, 1669,
being three years and seven months old.

1 With troubled heart and trembling hand I write,
2 The Heavens have changíd to sorrow my delight.
3 How oft with disappointment have I me,
4 When I on fading things my hopes have set?
5 Experience might ífore this have made me wise,
6 To value things according to their price:
7 Was ever stable joy yet found below,
8 Or perfect bliss without mixture of woe? 9 I knew she was but as a withering flour,
10 Thatís here today, perhaps gone in an hour;
11 Like as a bubble, or the brittle glass,
12 Or like a shadow turning as it was.
13 More fool then I tolook on that was lent,
14 As if mine own, when thus impermanent.
15 Farewel dear child, thou neíre shall came to me,
16 But yet a while, and I shall go to thee;
17 Mean time my throbbing heartís chearíd up with this
18 Thou with thy Savior art in endless bliss.

Form: couplet.

4. "fading things": things of this world

7. below: Earth

9. flour: flower

17. chearíd: cheered

18. "Öin endless bliss": heaven

 

On my dear Grand-child Simon Bradstreet,
Who dyed on 16, November, 1669,
being but a month, and one day old.

No sooner come, but gone, and falín asleep,

1 Acquaintance short, yet parting causíd us weep,
2 Three flours, scarcely blown, the last Iíthíbud,
3 Cropt by thí Almighties hand; yet is he good,
4 With humble hearts and mouths put in the dust,
5 Letís say heís merciful as well as just.
6 He will return, and make up all our losses,
7 And smile again, after our bitter crosses.
8 Go pretty babe, go rest with Sisters twain
9 Amoung the blest in endless joyes remain.

Form: couplet.

1. "falín asleep": died

3. "three flours": Anneís three grandchildren who had already died in childhood.

5. "mouths put in the dust": mourning

6. "letís just say": Anne expresses her anger with God that Heís taken the children

9. twain: two

10. "in endless joyes": heaven

 

 

To the memory of my dear Daughter in Law, Mrs. Mercy Bradstreet, who deceased Sept. 6, 1669, in the 28 year of her Age.

1 And live I still to see Relations gone,
2 And yet survive to sound this wailing tone;
3 Ah, woe is me, to write thy Funeral Song,
4 Who might in reason yet have lived long,
5 I saw the branches lopt the Tree now fall,
6 I stood so nigh, it crusht me down withal;
7 My bruised heart lies sobbing at the Root.
8 That thou dear Son has lost both Tree and fruit;
9 Thou then on Seas sailing to forreign Coast;<;
10 Was ignorant what riches thou hadst lost.
11 But ah too soon those heavy tydings fly,
12 To strike thee with amazing misery;
13 Oh how I simpathize with thy sad heart,
14 And in thy griefs still bear a second part:
15 I lost a daughter dear, but thou a wife,
16 Who lovíd thee more (it seemíd) than her own life.
17 Thou being gone, she longer could not be
18 Because her Soul sheíd sent to thee.
19 One week she only past in pain and woe,
20 And then her sorrows all at once did go;
21 A Babe she left before, she soaríd above,
22 The fifth and last pledge of her dying love,
23 Eíre nature would, it hither did arrive,
24 No wonder it no longer did survive.
25 So with her Children four, sheís now at rest,
26 All freed from grief (I trust) amoung the blest;
27 She one hath left, a joy to thee and me,
28 The Heavens vouchsafe she may ever be.
29 Chear up (dear Son) thy fainting bleeding heart,
30 In him alone, that caused all this smart;
31 What though, thy strokes full sad & grievous be,
32 He knows it is best for thee and me.

1 relations: family, specifically her parents, grandchildren, and extended family

5 lopt: cut off / Tree: daughter-in-law

7 Root: grave

8 Son: Simon Bradstreet Jr. / Tree and fruit: wife and children

9 Simon went to England in 1669 on business

20 "all at once did go": she died

22 pledge: child

23 "Eíre nature would, it hither did arrive": premature-birth

27 "she hath left one": one child, a daughter, survived

30 him: God

32 He: God