Anne Bradstreet: Youth
My goodly clothing and beauteous skin
Declare some greater riches are within,
But what is best I'll first present to view,
And then the worst, in a more ugly hue,
For thus to do we on this Stage assemble,
Then let not him, which hath most craft dissemble.
Mine education, and my learning's such,
As might my self, and others, profit much:
With nurture trained up in virtue's Schools;
Of Science, Arts, and Tongues, I know the rules;
The manners of the Court, I likewise know,
Nor ignorant what they in Country do.
The brave attempts of valiant Knights I prize
That dare climb Battlements, rear'd to the skies.
The snorting Horse, the Trumpet, Drum I like,
The glist'ring Sword, and well advanced Pike.
I cannot lie in trench before a Town,
Nor wait til good advice our hopes do crown.
I scorn the heavy Corslet, Musket-proof;
I fly to catch the Bullet that's aloof.
Though thus in field, at home, to all most kind,
So affable that I do suit each mind,
I can insinuate into the breast
And by my mirth can raise the heart deprest.
Sweet Music rapteth my harmonious Soul,
And elevates my thoughts above the Pole.
My wit, my bounty, and my courtesy
Makes all to place their future hopes on me.
This is my best, but youth (is known) alas,
To be as wild as is the snuffing Ass,
As vain as froth, as vanity can be,
That who would see vain man may look on me:
My gifts abus'd, my education lost,
My woful Parents' longing hopes all crost;
My wit evaporates in merriment;
My valour in some beastly quarrel's spent;
Martial deeds I love not, 'cause they're virtuous,
But doing so, might seem magnanimous.
My Lust doth hurry me to all that's ill,
I know no Law, nor reason, but my will;
Sometimes lay wait to take a wealthy purse
Or stab the man in's own defence, that's worse.
Sometimes I cheat (unkind) a female Heir
Of all at once, who not so wise, as fair,
Trusteth my loving looks and glozing tongue
Until her friends, treasure, and honour's gone.
Sometimes I sit carousing others' health
Until mine own be gone, my wit, and wealth.
From pipe to pot, from pot to words and blows,
For he that loveth Wine wanteth no woes.
Days, nights, with Ruffins, Roarers, Fiddlers spend,
To all obscenity my ears I bend,
All counsel hate which tends to make me wise,
And dearest friends count for mine enemies.
If any care I take, 'tis to be fine,
For sure my suit more than my virtues shine.
If any time from company I spare,
'Tis spent in curling, frisling up my hair,
Some young Adonais I do strive to be.
Sardana Pallas now survives in me.
Cards, Dice, and Oaths, concomitant, I love;
To Masques, to Plays, to Taverns still I move;
And in a word, if what I am you'd hear,
Seek out a British, bruitish Cavalier.
Such wretch, such monster am I; but yet more
I want a heart all this for to deplore.
Thus, thus alas! I have mispent my time,
My youth, my best, my strength, my bud, and prime,
Remembring not the dreadful day of Doom,
Nor yet the heavy reckoning for to come,
Though dangers do attend me every hour
And ghastly death oft threats me with her power:
Sometimes by wounds in idle combats taken,
Sometimes by Agues all my body shaken;
Sometimes by Fevers, all my moisture drinking,
My heart lies frying, and my eyes are sinking.
Sometimes the Cough, Stitch, painful Pleurisy,
With sad affrights of death, do menace me.
Sometimes the loathsome Pox my face be-mars
With ugly marks of his eternal scars.
Sometimes the Frenzy strangely mads my Brain
That oft for it in Bedlam I remain.
Too many's my Diseases to recite,
That wonder 'tis I yet behold the light,
That yet my bed in darkness is not made,
And I in black oblivion's den long laid.
Of Marrow full my bones, of Milk my breasts,
Ceas'd by the gripes of Serjeant Death's Arrests:
Thus I have said, and what I've said you see,
Childhood and youth is vain, yea vanity.