Mourning Poetry of Anne Bradstreet2021-05-25T16:29:07-04:00

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Mourning Poetry of Anne Bradstreet

The four poems collected here demonstrate the hardship of living in a time when the mortality rate was much higher than today.

In memory of my dear grand-child Elizabeth Bradstreet, who deceased August, 1665. Being a year and half old

Anne Bradstreet, “In memory of my dear grand-child Elizabeth Bradstreet, who deceased August, 1665. Being a year and half old,” The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse (Charlestown: A. E. Cutter, 1867). New-York Historical Society Library.

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Farewel dear babe, my hearts too much content,
Farewel sweet babe, the pleasure of mine eye,
Farewel fair flower that for a space was lent,
Then ta’en away unto Eternity.
Blest babe, why should I once bewail thy fate,
Or sigh the dayes so soon were terminate;
Since thou art settled in an Everlasting state.

By nature Trees do rot when they are grown,
And Plumbs and Apples thoroughly ripe do fall,
And Corn and grass are in their season mown,
And time brings down what is both strong and tall.
But plants new set to be eradicate.
And buds new blown, to have so short a date,
Is by his hand alone that guides nature and fate.

Anne Bradstreet, “In memory of my dear grand-child Elizabeth Bradstreet,* who deceased August, 1665. Being a year and half old,” The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse (Charlestown: A. E. Cutter, 1867). New-York Historical Society Library.

*The eldest child of her son Samuel.

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In memory of my dear grandchild Anne Bradstreet. Who deceased June 20, 1669. Being three years and seven Months old

Anne Bradstreet, “In memory of my dear grandchild Anne Bradstreet. Who deceased June 20, 1669. Being three years and seven Months old,” The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse (Charlestown: A. E. Cutter, 1867). New-York Historical Society Library.

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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 flower,
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.
Farewell dear child, thou ne’re shall come to me,
But yet a while, and I shall go to thee;
Mean time my throbbing heart’s chear’d up with this
Thou with thy Saviour art in endless bliss.

Anne Bradstreet, “In memory of my dear grandchild Anne Bradstreet.* Who deceased June 20, 1669. Being three years and seven Months old,” The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse (Charlestown: A. E. Cutter, 1867). New-York Historical Society Library.

*”June. 20. 69 My Br Samuels eldest child which was a daughter, between 3 & four yeares old dyed. He buried ye first yt ever had (w’ch also was a daughter) about 4 yeares since. The Ld teach him, and me, and all who it espec. concernes good thereby.”—Rev. Simon Bradstreet’s Manuscript Diary

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On my dear Grand-child Simon Bradstreet, Who died on 16 November 1669. Being but a month, and one day old

Anne Bradstreet,“On my dear Grand-child Simon Bradstreet, Who died on 16 November 1669. Being but a month, and one day old,” The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse (Charlestown: A. E. Cutter, 1867). New-York Historical Society Library.

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No sooner come, but gone, and fal’n asleep,
Acquaintance short, yet parting caus’d us weep,
Three flours, two scarcely blown, the last i’th’ bud,
Cropped by th’ Almighties hand; yet is he good,
With dreadful awe before him let’s be mute,
Such was his will, but why, let’s not dispute,
With humble hearts and mouths put in the dust,
Let’s say he’s merciful as well as just.
He will return, and make up all our losses,
And smile again, after our bitter crosses.
Go pretty babe, go rest with Sisters twain
Among the blest in endless joys remain.

Anne Bradstreet,“On my dear Grand-child Simon Bradstreet,* Who died on 16 November 1669. Being but a month, and one day old,” The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse (Charlestown: A. E. Cutter, 1867). New-York Historical Society Library.

“*The fourth child of her eldest son, Samuel.”

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To the memory of my dear Daughter in Law, Mrs. Mercy Bradstreet, who deceased September 6, 1669. In the 28 Year of her Age

Anne Bradstreet, “To the memory of my dear Daughter in Law, Mrs. Mercy Bradstreet, who deceased September 6, 1669. In the 28 Year of her Age,” The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse (Charlestown: A. E. Cutter, 1867). New-York Historical Society Library. 1/2

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And live I still to see Relations gone,
And yet survive to sound this wailing tone;
Ah, woe is me, to write thy Funeral Song,
Who might in reason yet have lived long,
I saw the branches lopt the Tree now fall,
I stood so nigh, it crusht me down withal;
My bruised heart lies sobbing at the Root,
That thou dear Son hath lost both Tree and fruit:
Thou then on Seas failing to forreign Coast;
Was ignorant what riches thou hadst lost.
But ah too soon those heavy tydings fly,
To strike thee with amazing misery;
Oh how I sympathize with thy sad heart,
And in thy griefs still bear a second part:
I lost a daughter dear, but thou a wife,
Who lov’d thee more (it seem’d) then her own life.
Thou being gone, she longer could not be,
Because her Soul she’d sent along with thee.
One week she only past in pain and woe,
And then her sorrows all at once did go;
A Babe she left before, she soar’d above,
The fifth and last pledg of her dying love,
E’re nature would, it hither did arrive,
No wonder it no longer did survive.
So with her Children four, she’s now a rest,
All freed from grief (I trust) among the blest;
She one hath left, a joy to thee and me,
The Heavens vouchsafe she may so ever be.
Chear up, (dear Son) thy fainting bleeding heart,
In him alone, that caused all this smart;
What though thy strokes full fad & grievous be,
He knows it is the best for thee and me.

Anne Bradstreet, “To the memory of my dear Daughter in Law, Mrs. Mercy Bradstreet, who deceased Sept. 6. 1669. In the 28 Year of her Age,*” The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse (Charlestown: A. E. Cutter, 1867). New-York Historical Society Library. 1/2

“*’Sept. ( ) 1670 My Br Samuel Bradstreet his wife dyed, wch was a soar affliction to him, and all his friends. May god give us all a sanctifyed use of this, and all other his Dispensations.’—Rev. Simon Bradstreet’s Manuscript Diary. She was a daughter of William Tyng. It appears from this poem that she died soon after the premature birth of a child, which did not long survive her. This child was Anne, born Sept. 3, 1670, so that the date of the mother’s death, as given in the heading, must be a misprint for 1670. See N. E. Hist. Gen. Register, vol. ix. p. 113, note.”

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