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Poem by Anne Bradstreet

The Flesh and the Spirit

In secret place where once I stood 
Close by the Banks of Lacrim flood, 
I heard two sisters reason on 
Things that are past and things to come. 
One Flesh was calld, who had her eye 
On worldly wealth and vanity; 
The other Spirit, who did rear 
Her thoughts unto a higher sphere. 
Sister, quoth Flesh, what livst thou on 
Nothing but Meditation? 
Doth Contemplation feed thee so 
Regardlessly to let earth go? 
Can Speculation satisfy 
Notion without Reality? 
Dost dream of things beyond the Moon 
And dost thou hope to dwell there soon? 
Hast treasures there laid up in store 
That all in th world thou countst but poor? 
Art fancy-sick or turnd a Sot 
To catch at shadows which are not? 
Come, come. Ill show unto thy sense, 
Industry hath its recompence. 
What canst desire, but thou maist see 
True substance in variety? 
Dost honour like? Acquire the same, 
As some to their immortal fame; 
And trophies to thy name erect 
Which wearing time shall neer deject. 
For riches dost thou long full sore? 
Behold enough of precious store. 
Earth hath more silver, pearls, and gold 
Than eyes can see or hands can hold. 
Affects thou pleasure? Take thy fill. 
Earth hath enough of what you will. 
Then let not go what thou maist find 
For things unknown only in mind. 


Be still, thou  unregenerate part,
Disturb no more my settled heart,
For I have vowd (and so will do)
Thee as a foe still to pursue,
And combat with thee will and must
Until I see thee laid in th dust.
Sister we are, yea twins we be,
Yet deadly feud twixt thee and me,
For from one father are we not.
Thou by old Adam wast begot,
But my arise is from above,
Whence my dear father I do love.
Thou speakst me fair but hatst me sore.
Thy flattring shews Ill trust no more.
How oft thy slave hast thou me made
When I believd what thou hast said
And never had more cause of woe
Than when I did what thou badst do.
Ill stop mine ears at these thy charms
And count them for my deadly harms.
Thy sinful pleasures I do hate,
Thy riches are to me no bait.
Thine honours do, nor will I love,
For my ambition lies above.
My greatest honour it shall be
When I am victor over thee,
And Triumph shall, with laurel head,
When thou my Captive shalt be led.
How I do live, thou needst not scoff,
For I have meat thou knowst not of.
The hidden Manna I do eat;
The word of life, it is my meat.
My thoughts do yield me more content
Than can thy hours in pleasure spent.
Nor are they shadows which I catch,
Nor fancies vain at which I snatch
But reach at things that are so high,
Beyond thy dull Capacity.
Eternal substance I do see
With which inriched I would be.
Mine eye doth pierce the heavns and see
What is Invisible to thee.
My garments are not silk nor gold,
Nor such like trash which Earth doth hold,
But Royal Robes I shall have on,
More glorious than the glistring Sun.
But such as Angels heads infold.
The City where I hope to dwell,
Theres none on Earth can parallel.
The stately Walls both high and trong
Are made of precious Jasper stone,
The Gates of Pearl, both rich and clear,
And Angels are for Porters there.
The Streets thereof transparent gold
Such as no Eye did ere behold.
A Crystal River there doth run
Which doth proceed from the Lambs Throne.
Of Life, there are the waters sure
Which shall remain forever pure.
Nor Sun nor Moon they have no need
For glory doth from God proceed.
No Candle there, nor yet Torch light,
For there shall be no darksome night.
From sickness and infirmity
Forevermore they shall be free.
Nor withering age shall ere come there,
But beauty shall be bright and clear.
This City pure is not for thee,
For things unclean there shall not be.
If I of Heavn may have my fill,
Take thou the world, and all that will.

Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet's other poems:
  1. To Her Most Honoured Father Thomas Dudley Esq; These Humbly Presented
  2. For the Restoration of My Dear Husband from a Burning Ague, June, 1661
  3. Deliverance from a Fit of Fainting
  4. For Deliverance from a Feaver
  5. Upon Some Distemper of Body

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