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.

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