Anne Bradstreet: Earth

Updated September 23, 2019 | Infoplease Staff


The next in place Earth judg'd to be her due,
Sister (quoth shee) I come not short of you,
In wealth and use I do surpass you all,
And mother earth of old men did me call
Such is my fruitfulness, an Epithite,
Which none ere gave, or you could claim of sight
Among my praises this I count not least,
I am th' original of man and beast,
To tell what Sundry fruits my fat soil yields
In Vineyards, Gardens, Orchards &Corn-fields,
Their kinds, their tasts, their Colors &their smells
Would so pass time I could say nothing else.
The rich, the poor, wise, fool, and every sort
Of these so common things can make report.
To tell you of my countryes and my Regions,
Soon would they pass not hundreds but legions;
My cities famous, rich and populous,
Whose numbers now are grown innumerous,
I have not time to think of every part,
Yet let me name my Grecia, 'tis my heart.
For learning arms and arts I love it well,
But chiefly 'cause the Muses there did dwell.

Ile here skip ore my mountains reaching skyes,
Whether Pyrenean, or the Alpes, both lyes
On either side the country of the Gaules
Strong forts, from Spanish and Italian brawles,
And huge great Taurus longer then the rest,
Dividing great Armenia from the least;
And Hemus, whose steep sides none foot upon,
But farewell all for dear mount Helicon,
And wondrous high Olimpus, of such fame,
That heav'n itself was oft call'd by that name.
Parnapus sweet, I dote too much on thee,
Unless thou prove a better friend to me:
But Ile leap ore these hills, not touch a dale,
Nor will I stay, no not in Temple Vale,
He here let go my Lions of Numedia,
My Panthers and my Leopards of Libia,
The Behemoth and rare found Unicorn,
Poyson's sure antidote lyes in his horn,
And my Hiaena (imitates man's voice)
Out of great numbers I might pick my choice,
Thousands in woods &plains, both wild &tame,
But here or there, I list now none to name;
No, though the fawning Dog did urge me sore,
In his behalf to speak a word the more,
Whose trust and valour I might here commend;
But times too short and precious so to spend.
But hark you wealthy merchants, who for prize
Send forth your well man'd ships where sun doth rise,
After three years when men and meat is spent,
My rich Commodityes pay double rent.
Ye Galenists, my Drugs that come from thence,
Do cure your Patients, fill your purse with pence;
Besides the use of roots, of hearbs, and plants,
That with less cost near home supply your wants.
But Mariners where got your ships and Sails,
And Oars to row, when both my Sisters fails
Your Tackling, Anchor, compass too is mine,
Which guides when sun, nor moon, nor stars do shine.
Ye mighty Kings, who for your lasting fames
Built Cities, Monuments, call'd by your names,
Were those compiled heaps of massy stones
That your ambition laid, ought but my bones?
Ye greedy misers, who do dig for gold
For gemms, for silver, Treasures which I hold,
Will not my goodly face your rage suffice
But you will see, what in my bowels lyes?
And ye Artificers, all Trades and forts
My bounty calls you forth to make reports,
If ought you have, to use, to wear, to eat,
But what I freely yield, upon your sweat?
And Cholerick Sister, thou for all thine ire
Well knowst my fuel, must maintain thy fire.

As I ingenuously with thanks confess,
My cold thy fruitfull heat doth crave no less;
But how my cold dry temper works upon
The melancholy Constitution;
How the Autumnal season I do sway,
And how I force the gray-head to obey,
I should here make a short, yet true narration.
But that thy method is mine imitation
Now must I shew mine adverse quality,
And how I oft work man's mortality;
He sometimes finds, maugre his toiling pain
Thistles and thorns where he expected grain.
My sap to plants and trees I must not grant,
The vine, the olive, and the fig tree want:
The Corn and Hay do fall before the're mown,
And buds from fruitfull trees as soon as blown;
Then dearth prevails, that nature to suffice
The Mother on her tender infant flyes;
The husband knows no wife, nor father sons.
But to all outrages their hunger runs:
Dreadful examples soon I might produce,
But to such Auditors 'twere of no use,
Again when Delvers dare in hope of gold
To ope those veins of Mine, audacious bold;
While they thus in mine entrails love to dive,
Before they know, they are inter'd alive.
Y' affrighted nights appal'd, how do ye shake,
When once you feel me your foundation quake?
Because in the Abysse of my dark womb
Your cities and yourselves I oft intomb:
O dreadful Sepulcher! that this is true
Dathan and all his company well knew,
So did that Roman far more stout than wise
Bur'ing himself alive for honours prize.
And since fair Italy full sadly knowes
What she hath lost by these remed'less woes.
Again what veins of poyson in me lye,
Some kill outright, and some do stupifye:
Nay into herbs and plants it sometimes creeps,
In heats &colds &gripes &drowzy sleeps;
Thus I occasion death to man and beast
When food they seek, &harm mistrust the least,
Much might I say of the hot Libian sand
Which rise like tumbling Billows on the Land
Wherein Cambyses Armie was o'rethrown
(but winder Sister, 'twas when you have blown)
I'le say no more, but this thing add I must
Remember Sons, your mould is of my dust
And after death whether interr'd or burn'd
As Earth at first so into Earth returned.
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