To Her Most Honoured Father
By Anne Bradstreet
Dear Sir of late delighted with the sight
Of your four Sisters cloth’d in black and white,
Of fairer Dames the Sun ne’r saw the face;
Though made a pedestal for Adams Race;
Their worth so shines in those rich lines you show
Their paralels to finde I scarely know
To climbe their Climes, I have nor strength nor skill
To mount so high requires an Eagle’s quill;
Yet view thereof did cause my thoughts to soar,
My lowly pen might wait upon those four
I bring my four times four, now meanly clad
To do their homage, unto yours, full glad:
Who for their Age, their worth and quality
Might seem of yours to claim precedency:
But by my humble hand, thus rudely pen’d
They are your bounden handmaids to attend
These same are they, from whom we being have
These are of all, the Life, the Nurse, the Grave;
These are the hot, the cold, the moist, the dry,
That sink, that swim, that fill, that upwards fly,
Of these consists our bodies, Cloathes and Food,
The World, the useful, hurtful, and the good,
Sweet harmony they keep, yet jar oft times
Their discord doth appear, by these harsh rimes
Yours did contest for wealth, for Arts, for Age,
My first do shew their good, and then their rage.
My other foures do intermixed tell
Each others faults, and where themselves excell,
How hot and dry contend with moist and cold,
How Air and Earth no correspondence hold,
And yet in equal tempers, how they ‘gree
How divers natures make one Unity
Something of all (though mean) I did intend
But fear’d you’ld judge Du Bartas was my friend.
I honour him, but dare not wear his wealth
My goods are true (though poor) I love no stealth
But if I did I durst not send them you
Who must reward a Thief, but with his due.
I shall not need, mine innocence to clear
These ragged lines, will do ‘t when they appear:
On what they are, your mild aspect I crave
Accept my best, my worst vouchsafe a Grave.
From her that to your self, more duty owes
Then water in the boundess Ocean flows.
March 20, 1642.