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Contemplations

by Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet, American poet, was born in Northhampton, England, in 1612, and died on September 16, 1672 in North Andover, Massachusetts. Bradstreet was the first woman to publish a book of poetry in America. The poems were published using an anonymous author, but it was widely known who the true writer was.

 

Some time now past in the Autumnal Tide 
When Phoebus wanted but one hour to bed 
The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride 
Where gilded o're by his rich golden head. 
Their leaves and fruits seemed painted but was true 
Of green, of red, of yellow mixed hew, 
Rapt were my sences at this delectable view.

I wist not what to wish, yet sure thought I, 
If so much excellence abide below; 
How excellent is he that dwells on high? 
Whose power and beauty by his works we know. 
Sure he is goodness, wisdome, glory, light, 
That hath this under world so richly dight; 
More Heaven than Earth was here, no winter & no night.

Then on a stately oak I cast mine Eye, 
Whose ruffling top the Clouds seemed to aspire; 
How long since thou wast in thine Infancy? 
Thy strength and stature, more thy years admire. 
Hath hundred winters past since thou wast born? 
Or thousand since thou brakest thy shell of horn, 
If so, all these as nought, Eternity doth scorn.

Then higher on the glistening Sun I gazed, 
Whose beams was shaded by the leavie Tree, 
The more I looked, the more I grew amazed, 
And softly said, what glory's like to thee? 
Soul of this world, this Universes Eye 
Had I not, better known, (alas) the same had I.

Thou as a bridegroom from thy Chamber rushes 
And as a strong man, joyes to run a race, 
The morn doth usher thee with smiles and blushes 
The Earth reflects her glances in thy face. 
Birds, insects, Animals with Vegetive, 
Thy heart from death and dulness doth revive: 
And in the darksome womb of fruitful nature dive.

Thy swift Annual and diurnal Course, 
Thy daily streight and yearly oblique path. 
Thy pleasing fervor and thy scorching force, 
All mortals here the feeling knowledg hath. 
Thy presence makes it day thy absence night, 
Quaternal Seasons caused by thy might; 
Hail Creature full of sweetness, beauty and delight.

Art them so full of glory, that no Eye 
Hath strength, thy shining Rayes once to behold? 
And is thy splendid throne erect so high? 
As to approach it can no earthly mould. 
How full of glory then must thy Creator be? 
Who gave this bright light luster unto thee, 
Admir'd, ador'd for ever, be that Majesty.

Silent alone, where none or saw or heard, 
In pathless paths I lead my wandering feet; 
My humble eyes to lofty Skyes I rear'd, 
To sing some song my mazed Muse thought meet. 
My great Creator I would magnifie, 
That nature had thus decked liberally; 
But Ah, and Ah, again my imbecility.

 

Source: Anne Bradstreet and her Time, By Helen Campbell, 1891


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