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Nor is't enough, that thou alone mayst slide,
But hundred brooks in thy cleer waves do meet,
So hand in hand along with thee they glide
To Thetis house, where all imbrace and greet:
Thou Emblem true, of what I count the best,
Oh, could I lead my Rivolets to rest,

So may we press to that vast mansion, ever blest!

Ye Fish which in this liquid Region 'bide,
That for each season, have your habitation,

Now salt, now fresh where you think best to glide,
To unknown coasts to give a visitation,

In Lakes and ponds, you leave your numerous fry;
So nature taught and yet you know not why,
You watry folk that know not your felicity.

Look how the wantons frisk to tast the air,
Then to the colder bottome streight they dive,
Eftsoon to Neptun's glassie Hall repair

To see what trade the great ones there do drive,
Who forrage o're the spacious sea-green field,
And take the trembling prey before it yield;
Whose armour is their scales, their spreading fins their shield.

While musing thus with contemplation fed,
And thousand fancies buzzing in my brain,

The sweet-tongu'd Philomel percht ore my head,
And chanted forth a most melodious strain
Which rapt me so with wonder and delight,
I judg'd my hearing better than my sight,
And wisht me wings with her a while to take my flight.

O merry Bird (said I) that fears no snares,

That neither toyles nor hoards up in thy barn,
Feels no sad thoughts, nor cruciating cares
To gain more good, or shun what might thee harm,

Thy cloaths ne're wear, thy meat is everywhere,
Thy bed a bough, thy drink the water cleer,
Reminds not what is past, not whats to come dost fear.

The dawning morn with songs thou dost prevent,

Sets hundred notes unto thy feathered crew,

So each one tunes his pretty instrument,
And warbling out the old begins anew.

And thus they pass their youth in summer season,

Then follow thee into a better Region
Where winter's never felt by that sweet airy legion.

In Memory of my Dear Grandchild Anne Bradstreet, who de ceased June 20, 1669, being Three Years and Seven Months Old

With troubled heart & trembling hand I write,
The Heavens have chang'd to sorrow my delight.
How oft with disappointment have I met,
When I on fading things my hopes have set?
Experience might 'fore this have made me wise,
To value things according to their price:
Was ever stable joy yet found below?
Or perfect bliss without mixture of woe?
I knew she was but as a withering flour,
That's here to-day, perhaps gone in an hour;
Like as a bubble, or the brittle glass,
Or like a shadow turning, as it was.
More fool then I to look on that was lent,
As if mine own, when thus impermanent.
Farewel dear child, thou ne'er shall come to me,
But yet a while and I shall go to thee;
Mean time my throbbing heart's cheared up with this
Thou with thy Saviour art in endless bliss.

To my Dear and Loving Husband

IF ever wife was happy in a man,
If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee;
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.

My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love lets so persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Anne Bradstreef


First printed in Boston between 1687 and 1690

More than one hundred years after the publication of the Primer, it was still held in such esteem that many schools devoted to it a generous share of the Saturday morning's session. We can imagine the little children answering eagerly the questions, "Who was the first man?" "Who was the first woman?" and so on down the page; while the older boys and girls were perhaps saying over to themselves nervously the definition of "justification," or "adoption," or "sanctification," in the Shorter Catechism. From a literary point of view, the DIALOGUE between CHRIST, YOUTH, and the Devil is of special interest, in that it recalls so unmistakably the morality plays of more than a century earlier.

From The New England Primer, reprint of the edition of 1777.

Good children must,

Fear God all day,
Parents obey,
No false things say,
By no sin stray,

Love Christ alway,
In secret pray,
Mind little play,
Make no delay,

In doing good.

I in the burying place may see
Graves shorter there than I,
From death's arrest no age is free,

Young children too must die.
My God may such an awful sight,
Awakening be to me!

Oh! that by early grace I might
For death prepared be.

NOW I lay me down to take my sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Our Saviour's Golden Rule
BE you to others kind and true,

As you'd have others be to you:
And neither do nor say to men,

Whate'er you would not take again.

A DIALOGUE between CHRIST, YOUTH, and the Devil.


THose days which God to me doth send,
In pleasure I'm resolved to spend ;
Like as the birds in th' lovely spring,

Sit chirping on the bough and sing;
Who straining forth those warbling notes,
Do make sweet music in their throats,
So I resolve in this my prime,

In sports and plays to spend my time,
Sorrow and grief I'll put away,
Such things agree not with my day:

From clouds my morning shall be free,
And nought on earth shall trouble me.
I will embrace each sweet delight,
This earth affords me day and night:
Though parents grieve and me correct,
Yet I their counsel will reject.


The resolution which you take, Sweet youth it doth me merry make. If thou my counsel wilt embrace, And shun the ways of truth and grace, And learn to lie and curse and swear, And be as proud as any are; And with thy brothers wilt fall out, And sisters with vile language flout, Yea, fight and scratch, and also bite, Then in thee I will take delight. If thou wilt but be ruled by me, An artist thou shalt quickly be, In all my ways which lovely are, Th' are few with thee who shall compare.

Thy parents always disobey;

Don't mind at all what they do say:

And thou shalt be a child for me.

When others read, be thou at play,
And also pout and sullen be.

Think not on God, don't sigh nor pray,

Nor be thou such a silly fool,

To mind thy book or go to school;

But play the truant; fear not I

Will straitway help you to lie,
Which will excuse thee from the same,

From being whipp'd and from all blame;
Come bow to me, uphold my crown,
And I'll thee raise to high renown.

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