Anne Bradstreet: Fire

Updated September 23, 2019 | Infoplease Staff


What is my worth (both ye) and all men know,
In little time I can but little show,
But what I am, let learned Grecians say
What I can do well skil'd Mechanicks may;
The benefit all living by me finde,
All sorts of Artists, here declare your mind,
What tool was ever fram'd, but by my might?
Ye Martilisk, what weapons for your fight
To try your valor by, but it must feel
My force? Your Sword, &Gun, your Lance of steel
Your Cannon's bootless and your powder too
Without mine aid, (alas) what can they do;
The adverse walls not shak'd, the Mines not blown
And in despight the City keeps her own;
But I with one Granado or Petard
Set ope those gates, that 'fore so strong were bar'd
Ye Husband-men, your Coulters made by me
Your Hooes your Mattocks, &what ere you see
Subdue the Earth, and fit it for your Grain
That so it might in time requite your pain;
Though strong-limb'd Vulcan forg'd it by his skill
I made it flexible unto his will;
Ye Cooks, your Kitchen implements I frame
Your Spits, Pots, Jacks, what else I need not name
Your dayly food I wholsome make, I warm
Your shrinking Limbs, which winter's cold doth harm
Ye Paracelsians too in vain's your skill
In Chymistry, unless I help you Still.

And you Philosophers, if e're you made
A transmutation it was through mine aid,
Ye silver Smiths, your Ure I do refine
What mingled lay with Earth I cause to shine,
But let me leave these things, my fame aspires
To match on high with the Celestial fires;
The Sun an Orb of fire was held of old,
Our Sages new another tale have told;
But be he what they will, yet his aspect
A burning fiery heat we find reflect
And of the self same nature is with mine
Cold sister Earth, no witness needs but thine;
How doth his warmth, refresh thy frozen back
And trim thee brave, in green, after thy black.
Both man and beast rejoyce at his approach,
And birds do sing, to see his glittering Coach
And though nought, but Salamanders live in fire
And fly Pyrausta call'd, all else expire,
Yet men and beasts Astronomers will tell
Fixed in heavenly Constellations dwell,
My Planets of both Sexes whose degree
Poor Heathen judg'd worthy a Diety;
There's Orion arm'd attended by his dog;
The Theban stout Alcides with his Club;
The valiant Persens, who Medusa slew,
The horse that kil'd Beleuphon, then flew.
My Crab, my Scorpion, fishes you may see
The Maid with ballance, twain with horses three,
The Ram, the Bull, the Lion, and the Beagle,
The Bear, the Goat, the Raven, and the Eagle,
The Crown, the Whale, the Archer, Bernice Hare
The Hidra, Dolphin, Boys that water bear,
Nay more, then these, Rivers 'mongst stars are found
Eridanus, where Phaeton was drown'd.
Their magnitude, and height, should I recount
My Story to a volume would amount;
Out of a multitude these few I touch,
Your wisdome out of little gather much.

I'le here let pass, my choler, cause of wars
And influence of divers of those stars
When in Conjunction with the Sun do more
Augment his heat, which was too hot before.
The Summer ripening season I do claim,
And man from thirty unto fifty framed,
Of old when Sacrifices were Divine,
I of acceptance was the holy Signe,
'Mong all thy wonders which I might recount,
There's none more strange then Aetna's Sulphry mount
The choaking flames, that from Vesuvius flew
The over curious second Pliny flew,
And with the Ashes that it sometimes shed
Apulia's 'jacent parts were covered.
And though I be a servant to each man
Yet by my force, master, my masters can.
What famous Towns, to Cinders have I turned?
What lasting forts my Kindled wrath hath burned?
The Stately Seats of mighty Kings by me
In confused heaps, of ashes may you see.
Where's Ninus great wall'd Town, &Troy of old
Carthage, and hundred more in stories told
Which when they could not be o'ercome by foes
The Army, thro'ugh my help victorious rose
And Stately London, our great Britian's glory
My raging flame did make a mournful story,
But maugre all, that I, or foes could do
That Phoenix from her Bed, is risen New.
Old sacred Zion, I demolished thee
Lo great Diana's Temple was by me,
And more than bruitish London, for her lust
With neighbouring Towns, I did consume to dust
What shall I say of Lightning and of Thunder
Which Kings &mighty ones amaze with wonder,
Which make a Caesar, (Romes) the world's proud head,
Foolish Caligula creep under 's bed.
Of Meteors, Ignus fatuus and the rest,
But to leave those to th' wise, I judge it best.
The rich I oft made poor, the strong I maime,
Not sparing Life when I can take the same;
And in a word, the world I shall consume
And all therein, at that great day of Doom;
Not before then, shall cease, my raging ire
And then because no matter more for fire
Now Sisters pray proceed, each in your Course
As I, impart your usefulness and force.
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