In Reference To Her Children Poem by Anne Bradstreet

In Reference To Her Children

Rating: 3.3

I had eight birds hatched in one nest,
Four cocks there were, and hens the rest.
I nursed them up with pain and care,
Nor cost, nor labour did I spare,
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the trees, and learned to sing;
Chief of the brood then took his flight
To regions far and left me quite.
My mournful chirps I after send,
Till he return, or I do end:
Leave not thy nest, thy dam and sire,
Fly back and sing amidst this choir.
My second bird did take her flight,
And with her mate flew out of sight;
Southward they both their course did bend,
And seasons twain they there did spend,
Till after blown by southern gales,
They norward steered with filled sails.
A prettier bird was no where seen,
Along the beach among the treen.
I have a third of colour white,
On whom I placed no small delight;
Coupled with mate loving and true,
Hath also bid her dam adieu;
And where Aurora first appears,
She now hath perched to spend her years.
One to the academy flew
To chat among that learned crew;
Ambition moves still in his breast
That he might chant above the rest
Striving for more than to do well,
That nightingales he might excel.
My fifth, whose down is yet scarce gone,
Is 'mongst the shrubs and bushes flown,
And as his wings increase in strength,
On higher boughs he'll perch at length.
My other three still with me nest,
Until they're grown, then as the rest,
Or here or there they'll take their flight,
As is ordained, so shall they light.
If birds could weep, then would my tears
Let others know what are my fears
Lest this my brood some harm should catch,
And be surprised for want of watch,
Whilst pecking corn and void of care,
They fall un'wares in fowler's snare,
Or whilst on trees they sit and sing,
Some untoward boy at them do fling,
Or whilst allured with bell and glass,
The net be spread, and caught, alas.
Or lest by lime-twigs they be foiled,
Or by some greedy hawks be spoiled.
O would my young, ye saw my breast,
And knew what thoughts there sadly rest,
Great was my pain when I you fed,
Long did I keep you soft and warm,
And with my wings kept off all harm,
My cares are more and fears than ever,
My throbs such now as 'fore were never.
Alas, my birds, you wisdom want,
Of perils you are ignorant;
Oft times in grass, on trees, in flight,
Sore accidents on you may light.
O to your safety have an eye,
So happy may you live and die.
Meanwhile my days in tunes I'll spend,
Till my weak lays with me shall end.
In shady woods I'll sit and sing,
And things that past to mind I'll bring.
Once young and pleasant, as are you,
But former toys (no joys) adieu.
My age I will not once lament,
But sing, my time so near is spent.
And from the top bough take my flight
Into a country beyond sight,
Where old ones instantly grow young,
And there with seraphims set song;
No seasons cold, nor storms they see;
But spring lasts to eternity.
When each of you shall in your nest
Among your young ones take your rest,
In chirping language, oft them tell,
You had a dam that loved you well,
That did what could be done for young,
And nursed you up till you were strong,
And 'fore she once would let you fly,
She showed you joy and misery;
Taught what was good, and what was ill,
What would save life, and what would kill.
Thus gone, amongst you I may live,
And dead, yet speak, and counsel give:
Farewell, my birds, farewell adieu,
I happy am, if well with you.

Kim Barney 17 November 2014

Nice poem, but it was also chosen as poem of the day exactly five years ago on November 17,2009. Poem Hunter, please have some of your humans (if you have any at the website) actually read some of the recent poems and start choosing new ones for poem of the day instead of letting your computers do it.

12 3 Reply
Ramesh T A 17 November 2009

Mother's love is eternal though the birds love freedom and fly away leaving the mother!

5 7 Reply
Tracy Craighead 13 December 2015

I love Anne Bradstreet, she is always so crystal clear in her love for her husband and children. Her love is fearless and she inspires love in others. This particular poem spoke to me, it highlights a mother's unique connection to her children. A mother's love is hard to put into words, but Anne Bradstreet does a very good job at the ultimate expression of love.

10 2 Reply
Kenneth Maswabi 11 July 2015

The cream of poetry revealed.Thank you.

4 7 Reply
Kevin Straw 17 November 2009

This is a touching and heartfelt account of a mother's mixed feelings as she sees her offspring 'leave the nest'. She broods over her departed young as she brooded over them when they were at home, yet she understands the necessity of giving them their freedom. AB sustains the metaphor wonderfully without letting it obscure the feelings she is expressing by it. She does what good poets do by metaphor, she makes it say what could not be said so well without it.

6 5 Reply
Mania Kumari 15 June 2023

Nice poem

0 0 Reply
Dr Dillip K Swain 21 November 2022

The poet's portrayal of the prettier bird enriches the impact of this poem. Great!

0 0 Reply
Geeta Radhakrishna Menon 26 April 2020

A love of a Mother for her children - an emotion so vividly portrayed by the Poetess......10

0 0 Reply
Mahtab Bangalee 01 July 2019

If birds could weep, then would my tears Let others know what are my fears Lest this my brood some harm should catch, And be surprised for want of watch, .............//great poetic expression

1 0 Reply
Kevin Patrick 26 April 2019

A mother watching her chicklets fly into the air, her love for her children runs deep in this poem, its essence is still pure almost 400 years later, that's not just great poetry, that's human capacity for love.

0 2 Reply
Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet

Northampton, England
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