Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 16 September 1672 / Northampton, England)
A Dialogue between Old England and New
1 Alas, dear Mother, fairest Queen and best,
2 With honour, wealth, and peace happy and blest,
3 What ails thee hang thy head, and cross thine arms,
4 And sit i' the dust to sigh these sad alarms?
5 What deluge of new woes thus over-whelm
6 The glories of thy ever famous Realm?
7 What means this wailing tone, this mournful guise?
8 Ah, tell thy Daughter; she may sympathize.
9 Art ignorant indeed of these my woes,
10 Or must my forced tongue these griefs disclose,
11 And must my self dissect my tatter'd state,
12 Which Amazed Christendom stands wondering at?
13 And thou a child, a Limb, and dost not feel
14 My weak'ned fainting body now to reel?
15 This physic-purging-potion I have taken
16 Will bring Consumption or an Ague quaking,
17 Unless some Cordial thou fetch from high,
18 Which present help may ease my malady.
19 If I decease, dost think thou shalt survive?
20 Or by my wasting state dost think to thrive?
21 Then weigh our case, if 't be not justly sad.
22 Let me lament alone, while thou art glad.
23 And thus, alas, your state you much deplore
24 In general terms, but will not say wherefore.
25 What Medicine shall I seek to cure this woe,
26 If th' wound's so dangerous, I may not know?
27 But you, perhaps, would have me guess it out.
28 What, hath some Hengist like that Saxon stout
29 By fraud and force usurp'd thy flow'ring crown,
30 Or by tempestuous Wars thy fields trod down?
31 Or hath Canutus, that brave valiant Dane,
32 The regal peaceful Sceptre from thee ta'en?
33 Or is 't a Norman whose victorious hand
34 With English blood bedews thy conquered Land?
35 Or is 't intestine Wars that thus offend?
36 Do Maud and Stephen for the Crown contend?
37 Do Barons rise and side against their King,
38 And call in Foreign aid to help the thing?
39 Must Edward be depos'd? Or is 't the hour
40 That second Richard must be clapp'd i' th' Tower?
41 Or is it the fatal jar, again begun,
42 That from the red, white pricking Roses sprung?
43 Must Richmond's aid the Nobles now implore
44 To come and break the tushes of the Boar?
45 If none of these, dear Mother, what's your woe?
46 Pray, do not fear Spain's bragging Armado.
47 Doth your Ally, fair France, conspire your wrack,
48 Or doth the Scots play false behind your back?
49 Doth Holland quit you ill for all your love?
50 Whence is this storm, from Earth or Heaven above?
51 Is 't drought, is 't Famine, or is 't Pestilence?
52 Dost feel the smart, or fear the consequence?
53 Your humble Child entreats you shew your grief.
54 Though Arms nor Purse she hath for your relief--
55 Such is her poverty,--yet shall be found
56 A suppliant for your help, as she is bound.
57 I must confess some of those Sores you name
58 My beauteous Body at this present maim,
59 But foreign Foe nor feigned friend I fear,
60 For they have work enough, thou knowest, elsewhere.
61 Nor is it Alcie's son and Henry's Daughter
62 Whose proud contention cause this slaughter;
63 Nor Nobles siding to make John no King,
64 French Louis unjustly to the Crown to bring;
65 No Edward, Richard, to lose rule and life,
66 Nor no Lancastrians to renew old strife;
67 No Crook-backt Tyrant now usurps the Seat, 68 Whose tearing tusks did wound, and kill, and threat. 69 No Duke of
York nor Earl of March to soil
70 Their hands in Kindred's blood whom they did foil;
71 No need of Tudor Roses to unite:
72 None knows which is the Red or which the White.
73 Spain's braving Fleet a second time is sunk.
74 France knows how of my fury she hath drunk
75 By Edward third and Henry fifth of fame;
76 Her Lilies in my Arms avouch the same.
77 My Sister Scotland hurts me now no more,
78 Though she hath been injurious heretofore.
79 What Holland is, I am in some suspense,
80 But trust not much unto his Excellence.
81 For wants, sure some I feel, but more I fear;
82 And for the Pestilence, who knows how near?
83 Famine and Plague, two sisters of the Sword,
84 Destruction to a Land doth soon afford.
85 They're for my punishments ordain'd on high,
86 Unless thy tears prevent it speedily.
87 But yet I answer not what you demand
88 To shew the grievance of my troubled Land.
89 Before I tell the effect I'll shew the cause,
90 Which are my sins--the breach of sacred Laws:
91 Idolatry, supplanter of a N ation,
92 With foolish superstitious adoration,
93 Are lik'd and countenanc'd by men of might,
94 The Gospel is trod down and hath no right.
95 Church Offices are sold and bought for gain
96 That Pope had hope to find Rome here again.
97 For Oaths and Blasphemies did ever ear
98 From Beelzebub himself such language hear?
99 What scorning of the Saints of the most high!
100 What injuries did daily on them lie!
101 What false reports, what nick-names did they take,
102 Not for their own, but for their Master's sake!
103 And thou, poor soul, wast jeer'd among the rest;
104 Thy flying for the Truth I made a jest.
105 For Sabbath-breaking and for Drunkenness
106 Did ever Land profaneness more express?
107 From crying bloods yet cleansed am not I,
108 Martyrs and others dying causelessly.
109 How many Princely heads on blocks laid down
110 For nought but title to a fading Crown!
111 'Mongst all the cruelties which I have done,
112 Oh, Edward's Babes, and Clarence's hapless Son,
113 O Jane, why didst thou die in flow'ring prime?--
114 Because of Royal Stem, that was thy crime.
115 For Bribery, Adultery, for Thefts, and Lies
116 Where is the Nation I can't paralyze?
117 With Usury, Extortion, and Oppression,
118 These be the Hydras of my stout transgression;
119 These be the bitter fountains, heads, and roots
120 Whence flow'd the source, the sprigs, the boughs, and fruits.
121 Of more than thou canst hear or I relate,
122 That with high hand I still did perpetrate,
123 For these were threat'ned the woeful day
124 I mocked the Preachers, put it fair away.
125 The Sermons yet upon record do stand
126 That cried destruction to my wicked Land.
127 These Prophets' mouths (all the while) was stopt,
128 Unworthily, some backs whipt, and ears crept;
129 Their reverent cheeks bear the glorious marks
130 Of stinking, stigmatizing Romish Clerks;
131 Some lost their livings, some in prison pent,
132 Some grossly fined, from friends to exile went:
133 Their silent tongues to heaven did vengeance cry,
134 Who heard their cause, and wrongs judg'd righteously,
135 And will repay it sevenfold in my lap.
136 This is fore-runner of my after-clap.
137 Nor took I warning by my neighbors' falls.
138 I saw sad Germany's dismantled walls,
139 I saw her people famish'd, Nobles slain,
140 Her fruitful land a barren heath remain.
141 I saw (unmov'd) her Armies foil'd and fled,
142 Wives forc'd, babes toss'd, her houses calcined.
143 I saw strong Rochelle yield'd to her foe,
144 Thousands of starved Christians there also.
145 I saw poor Ireland bleeding out her last,
146 Such cruelty as all reports have past.
147 Mine heart obdurate stood not yet aghast.
148 Now sip I of that cup, and just 't may be
149 The bottom dregs reserved are for me.
150 To all you've said, sad mother, I assent.
151 Your fearful sins great cause there 's to lament.
152 My guilty hands (in part) hold up with you,
153 A sharer in your punishment's my due.
154 But all you say amounts to this effect,
155 Not what you feel, but what you do expect.
156 Pray, in plain terms, what is your present grief?
157 Then let's join heads and hands for your relief.
158 Well, to the matter, then. There's grown of late
159 'Twixt King and Peers a question of state:
160 Which is the chief, the law, or else the King?
161 One saith, it's he; the other, no such thing.
162 My better part in Court of Parliament
163 To ease my groaning land shew their intent
164 To crush the proud, and right to each man deal,
165 To help the Church, and stay the Common-Weal.
166 So many obstacles comes in their way
167 As puts me to a stand what I should say.
168 Old customs, new Prerogatives stood on.
169 Had they not held law fast, all had been gone,
170 Which by their prudence stood them in such stead
171 They took high Strafford lower by the head,
172 And to their Laud be 't spoke they held 'n th' Tower
173 All England's metropolitan that hour.
174 This done, an Act they would have passed fain
175 No prelate should his Bishopric retain.
176 Here tugg'd they hard indeed, for all men saw
177 This must be done by Gospel, not by law.
178 Next the Militia they urged sore.
179 This was denied, I need not say wherefore.
180 The King, displeased, at York himself absents.
181 They humbly beg return, shew their intents.
182 The writing, printing, posting to and fro,
183 Shews all was done; I'll therefore let it go.
184 But now I come to speak of my disaster.
185 Contention's grown 'twixt Subjects and their Master,
186 They worded it so long they fell to blows,
187 That thousands lay on heaps. Here bleeds my woes.
188 I that no wars so many years have known
189 Am now destroy'd and slaughter'd by mine own.
190 But could the field alone this strife decide,
191 One battle, two, or three I might abide,
192 But these may be beginnings of more woe--
193 Who knows, the worst, the best may overthrow!
194 Religion, Gospel, here lies at the stake,
195 Pray now, dear child, for sacred Zion's sake,
196 Oh, pity me in this sad perturbation,
197 My plundered Towns, my houses' devastation,
198 My ravisht virgins, and my young men slain,
199 My wealthy trading fallen, my dearth of grain.
200 The seedtime's come, but Ploughman hath no hope
201 Because he knows not who shall inn his crop.
202 The poor they want their pay, their children bread,
203 Their woful mothers' tears unpitied.
204 If any pity in thy heart remain,
205 Or any child-like love thou dost retain,
206 For my relief now use thy utmost skill,
207 And recompense me good for all my ill.
208 Dear mother, cease complaints, and wipe your eyes,
209 Shake off your dust, cheer up, and now arise.
210 You are my mother, nurse, I once your flesh,
211 Your sunken bowels gladly would refresh.
212 Your griefs I pity much but should do wrong,
213 To weep for that we both have pray'd for long,
214 To see these latter days of hop'd-for good,
215 That Right may have its right, though 't be with blood.
216 After dark Popery the day did clear;
217 But now the Sun in's brightness shall appear.
218 Blest be the Nobles of thy Noble Land
219 With (ventur'd lives) for truth's defence that stand.
220 Blest be thy Commons, who for Common good
221 And thy infringed Laws have boldly stood.
222 Blest be thy Counties, who do aid thee still
223 With hearts and states to testify their will.
224 Blest be thy Preachers, who do cheer thee on.
225 Oh, cry: the sword of God and Gideon!
226 And shall I not on them wish Mero's curse
227 That help thee not with prayers, arms, and purse?
228 And for my self, let miseries abound
229 If mindless of thy state I e'er be found.
230 These are the days the Church's foes to crush,
231 To root out Prelates, head, tail, branch, and rush.
232 Let's bring Baal's vestments out, to make a fire,
233 Their Mitres, Surplices, and all their tire,
234 Copes, Rochets, Croziers, and such trash,
235 And let their names consume, but let the flash
236 Light Christendom, and all the world to see
237 We hate Rome's Whore, with all her trumpery.
238 Go on, brave Essex, shew whose son thou art,
239 Not false to King, nor Country in thy heart,
240 But those that hurt his people and his Crown,
241 By force expel, destroy, and tread them down.
242 Let Gaols be fill'd with th' remnant of that pack,
243 And sturdy Tyburn loaded till it crack.
244 And ye brave Nobles, chase away all fear,
245 And to this blessed Cause closely adhere.
246 O mother, can you weep and have such Peers?
247 When they are gone, then drown your self in tears,
248 If now you weep so much, that then no more
249 The briny Ocean will o'erflow your shore.
250 These, these are they (I trust) with Charles our king,
251 Out of all mists such glorious days will bring
252 That dazzled eyes, beholding, much shall wonder
253 At that thy settled Peace, thy wealth, and splendour,
254 Thy Church and Weal establish'd in such manner
255 That all shall joy that thou display'dst thy banner,
256 And discipline erected so, I trust,
257 That nursing Kings shall come and lick thy dust.
258 Then Justice shall in all thy Courts take place
259 Without respect of persons or of case.
260 Then bribes shall cease, and suits shall not stick long,
261 Patience and purse of Clients for to wrong.
262 Then High Commissions shall fall to decay,
263 And Pursuivants and Catchpoles want their pay.
264 So shall thy happy Nation ever flourish,
265 When truth and righteousness they thus shall nourish.
266 When thus in Peace, thine Armies brave send out
267 To sack proud Rome, and all her vassals rout.
268 There let thy name, thy fame, and valour shine,
269 As did thine Ancestors' in Palestine,
270 And let her spoils full pay with int'rest be
271 Of what unjustly once she poll'd from thee.
272 Of all the woes thou canst let her be sped,
273 Execute to th' full the vengeance threatened.
274 Bring forth the beast that rul'd the world with's beck,
275 And tear his flesh, and set your feet on's neck,
276 And make his filthy den so desolate
277 To th' 'stonishment of all that knew his state.
278 This done, with brandish'd swords to Turkey go,--
279 (For then what is it but English blades dare do?)
280 And lay her waste, for so's the sacred doom,
281 And do to Gog as thou hast done to Rome.
282 Oh Abraham's seed, lift up your heads on high,
283 For sure the day of your redemption's nigh.
284 The scales shall fall from your long blinded eyes,
285 And him you shall adore who now despise.
286 Then fullness of the Nations in shall flow,
287 And Jew and Gentile to one worship go.
288 Then follows days of happiness and rest.
289 Whose lot doth fall to live therein is blest.
290 No Canaanite shall then be found 'n th' land,
291 And holiness on horses' bells shall stand.
292 If this make way thereto, then sigh no more,
293 But if at all thou didst not see 't before.
294 Farewell, dear mother; Parliament, prevail,
295 And in a while you'll tell another tale.
Comments about this poem (A Dialogue between Old England and New by Anne Bradstreet )
People who read Anne Bradstreet also read
Top 500 Poems
The Road Not Taken
If You Forget Me
Still I Rise
Edgar Allan Poe
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
William Ernest Henley