Anne Bradstreet (ca. 1612-1672)
A Dialogue between Old England and New
1Alas, dear Mother, fairest Queen and best,
2With honour, wealth, and peace happy and blest,
3What ails thee hang thy head, and cross thine arms,
4And sit i' the dust to sigh these sad alarms?
5What deluge of new woes thus over-whelm
6The glories of thy ever famous Realm?
7What means this wailing tone, this mournful guise?
8Ah, tell thy Daughter; she may sympathize.
9Art ignorant indeed of these my woes,
10Or must my forced tongue these griefs disclose,
11And must my self dissect my tatter'd state,
12Which Amazed Christendom stands wondering at?
13And thou a child, a Limb, and dost not feel
14My weak'ned fainting body now to reel?
15This physic-purging-potion I have taken
16Will bring Consumption or an Ague quaking,
17Unless some Cordial thou fetch from high,
18Which present help may ease my malady.
19If I decease, dost think thou shalt survive?
20Or by my wasting state dost think to thrive?
21Then weigh our case, if 't be not justly sad.
22Let me lament alone, while thou art glad.
23And thus, alas, your state you much deplore
24In general terms, but will not say wherefore.
25What Medicine shall I seek to cure this woe,
26If th' wound's so dangerous, I may not know?
27But you, perhaps, would have me guess it out.
28What, hath some Hengist like that Saxon stout
29By fraud and force usurp'd thy flow'ring crown,
30Or by tempestuous Wars thy fields trod down?
31Or hath Canutus, that brave valiant Dane,
32The regal peaceful Sceptre from thee ta'en?
33Or is 't a Norman whose victorious hand
34With English blood bedews thy conquered Land?
35Or is 't intestine Wars that thus offend?
36Do Maud and Stephen for the Crown contend?
37Do Barons rise and side against their King,
38And call in Foreign aid to help the thing?
39Must Edward be depos'd? Or is 't the hour
40That second Richard must be clapp'd i' th' Tower?
41Or is it the fatal jar, again begun,
42That from the red, white pricking Roses sprung?
43Must Richmond's aid the Nobles now implore
44To come and break the tushes of the Boar?
45If none of these, dear Mother, what's your woe?
46Pray, do not fear Spain's bragging Armado.
47Doth your Ally, fair France, conspire your wrack,
48Or doth the Scots play false behind your back?
49Doth Holland quit you ill for all your love?
50Whence is this storm, from Earth or Heaven above?
51Is 't drought, is 't Famine, or is 't Pestilence?
52Dost feel the smart, or fear the consequence?
53Your humble Child entreats you shew your grief.
54Though Arms nor Purse she hath for your relief--
55Such is her poverty,--yet shall be found
56A suppliant for your help, as she is bound.
57I must confess some of those Sores you name
58My beauteous Body at this present maim,
59But foreign Foe nor feigned friend I fear,
60For they have work enough, thou knowest, elsewhere.
61Nor is it Alcie's son and Henry's Daughter
62Whose proud contention cause this slaughter;
63Nor Nobles siding to make John no King,
64French Louis unjustly to the Crown to bring;
65No Edward, Richard, to lose rule and life,
66Nor no Lancastrians to renew old strife;
67No Crook-backt Tyrant now usurps the Seat,
68Whose tearing tusks did wound, and kill, and threat.
69No Duke of York nor Earl of March to soil
70Their hands in Kindred's blood whom they did foil;
71No need of Tudor Roses to unite:
72None knows which is the Red or which the White.
73Spain's braving Fleet a second time is sunk.
74France knows how of my fury she hath drunk
75By Edward third and Henry fifth of fame;
76Her Lilies in my Arms avouch the same.
77My Sister Scotland hurts me now no more,
78Though she hath been injurious heretofore.
79What Holland is, I am in some suspense,
80But trust not much unto his Excellence.
81For wants, sure some I feel, but more I fear;
82And for the Pestilence, who knows how near?
83Famine and Plague, two sisters of the Sword,
84Destruction to a Land doth soon afford.
85They're for my punishments ordain'd on high,
86Unless thy tears prevent it speedily.
87But yet I answer not what you demand
88To shew the grievance of my troubled Land.
89Before I tell the effect I'll shew the cause,
90Which are my sins--the breach of sacred Laws:
91Idolatry, supplanter of a N ation,
92With foolish superstitious adoration,
93Are lik'd and countenanc'd by men of might,
94The Gospel is trod down and hath no right.
95Church Offices are sold and bought for gain
96That Pope had hope to find Rome here again.
97For Oaths and Blasphemies did ever ear
98From Beelzebub himself such language hear?
99What scorning of the Saints of the most high!
100What injuries did daily on them lie!
101What false reports, what nick-names did they take,
102Not for their own, but for their Master's sake!
103And thou, poor soul, wast jeer'd among the rest;
104Thy flying for the Truth I made a jest.
105For Sabbath-breaking and for Drunkenness
106Did ever Land profaneness more express?
107From crying bloods yet cleansed am not I,
108Martyrs and others dying causelessly.
109How many Princely heads on blocks laid down
110For nought but title to a fading Crown!
111'Mongst all the cruelties which I have done,
112Oh, Edward's Babes, and Clarence's hapless Son,
113O Jane, why didst thou die in flow'ring prime?--
114Because of Royal Stem, that was thy crime.
115For Bribery, Adultery, for Thefts, and Lies
116Where is the Nation I can't paralyze?
117With Usury, Extortion, and Oppression,
118These be the Hydras of my stout transgression;
119These be the bitter fountains, heads, and roots
120Whence flow'd the source, the sprigs, the boughs, and fruits.
121Of more than thou canst hear or I relate,
122That with high hand I still did perpetrate,
123For these were threat'ned the woeful day
124I mocked the Preachers, put it fair away.
125The Sermons yet upon record do stand
126That cried destruction to my wicked Land.
127These Prophets' mouths (all the while) was stopt,
128Unworthily, some backs whipt, and ears crept;
129Their reverent cheeks bear the glorious marks
130Of stinking, stigmatizing Romish Clerks;
131Some lost their livings, some in prison pent,
132Some grossly fined, from friends to exile went:
133Their silent tongues to heaven did vengeance cry,
134Who heard their cause, and wrongs judg'd righteously,
135And will repay it sevenfold in my lap.
136This is fore-runner of my after-clap.
137Nor took I warning by my neighbors' falls.
138I saw sad Germany's dismantled walls,
139I saw her people famish'd, Nobles slain,
140Her fruitful land a barren heath remain.
141I saw (unmov'd) her Armies foil'd and fled,
142Wives forc'd, babes toss'd, her houses calcined.
143I saw strong Rochelle yield'd to her foe,
144Thousands of starved Christians there also.
145I saw poor Ireland bleeding out her last,
146Such cruelty as all reports have past.
147Mine heart obdurate stood not yet aghast.
148Now sip I of that cup, and just 't may be
149The bottom dregs reserved are for me.
150To all you've said, sad mother, I assent.
151Your fearful sins great cause there 's to lament.
152My guilty hands (in part) hold up with you,
153A sharer in your punishment's my due.
154But all you say amounts to this effect,
155Not what you feel, but what you do expect.
156Pray, in plain terms, what is your present grief?
157Then let's join heads and hands for your relief.
158Well, to the matter, then. There's grown of late
159'Twixt King and Peers a question of state:
160Which is the chief, the law, or else the King?
161One saith, it's he; the other, no such thing.
162My better part in Court of Parliament
163To ease my groaning land shew their intent
164To crush the proud, and right to each man deal,
165To help the Church, and stay the Common-Weal.
166So many obstacles comes in their way
167As puts me to a stand what I should say.
168Old customs, new Prerogatives stood on.
169Had they not held law fast, all had been gone,
170Which by their prudence stood them in such stead
171They took high Strafford lower by the head,
172And to their Laud be 't spoke they held 'n th' Tower
173All England's metropolitan that hour.
174This done, an Act they would have passed fain
175No prelate should his Bishopric retain.
176Here tugg'd they hard indeed, for all men saw
177This must be done by Gospel, not by law.
178Next the Militia they urged sore.
179This was denied, I need not say wherefore.
180The King, displeased, at York himself absents.
181They humbly beg return, shew their intents.
182The writing, printing, posting to and fro,
183Shews all was done; I'll therefore let it go.
184But now I come to speak of my disaster.
185Contention's grown 'twixt Subjects and their Master,
186They worded it so long they fell to blows,
187That thousands lay on heaps. Here bleeds my woes.
188I that no wars so many years have known
189Am now destroy'd and slaughter'd by mine own.
190But could the field alone this strife decide,
191One battle, two, or three I might abide,
192But these may be beginnings of more woe--
193Who knows, the worst, the best may overthrow!
194Religion, Gospel, here lies at the stake,
195Pray now, dear child, for sacred Zion's sake,
196Oh, pity me in this sad perturbation,
197My plundered Towns, my houses' devastation,
198My ravisht virgins, and my young men slain,
199My wealthy trading fallen, my dearth of grain.
200The seedtime's come, but Ploughman hath no hope
201Because he knows not who shall inn his crop.
202The poor they want their pay, their children bread,
203Their woful mothers' tears unpitied.
204If any pity in thy heart remain,
205Or any child-like love thou dost retain,
206For my relief now use thy utmost skill,
207And recompense me good for all my ill.
208Dear mother, cease complaints, and wipe your eyes,
209Shake off your dust, cheer up, and now arise.
210You are my mother, nurse, I once your flesh,
211Your sunken bowels gladly would refresh.
212Your griefs I pity much but should do wrong,
213To weep for that we both have pray'd for long,
214To see these latter days of hop'd-for good,
215That Right may have its right, though 't be with blood.
216After dark Popery the day did clear;
217But now the Sun in's brightness shall appear.
218Blest be the Nobles of thy Noble Land
219With (ventur'd lives) for truth's defence that stand.
220Blest be thy Commons, who for Common good
221And thy infringed Laws have boldly stood.
222Blest be thy Counties, who do aid thee still
223With hearts and states to testify their will.
224Blest be thy Preachers, who do cheer thee on.
225Oh, cry: the sword of God and Gideon!
226And shall I not on them wish Mero's curse
227That help thee not with prayers, arms, and purse?
228And for my self, let miseries abound
229If mindless of thy state I e'er be found.
230These are the days the Church's foes to crush,
231To root out Prelates, head, tail, branch, and rush.
232Let's bring Baal's vestments out, to make a fire,
233Their Mitres, Surplices, and all their tire,
234Copes, Rochets, Croziers, and such trash,
235And let their names consume, but let the flash
236Light Christendom, and all the world to see
237We hate Rome's Whore, with all her trumpery.
238Go on, brave Essex, shew whose son thou art,
239Not false to King, nor Country in thy heart,
240But those that hurt his people and his Crown,
241By force expel, destroy, and tread them down.
242Let Gaols be fill'd with th' remnant of that pack,
243And sturdy Tyburn loaded till it crack.
244And ye brave Nobles, chase away all fear,
245And to this blessed Cause closely adhere.
246O mother, can you weep and have such Peers?
247When they are gone, then drown your self in tears,
248If now you weep so much, that then no more
249The briny Ocean will o'erflow your shore.
250These, these are they (I trust) with Charles our king,
251Out of all mists such glorious days will bring
252That dazzled eyes, beholding, much shall wonder
253At that thy settled Peace, thy wealth, and splendour,
254Thy Church and Weal establish'd in such manner
255That all shall joy that thou display'dst thy banner,
256And discipline erected so, I trust,
257That nursing Kings shall come and lick thy dust.
258Then Justice shall in all thy Courts take place
259Without respect of persons or of case.
260Then bribes shall cease, and suits shall not stick long,
261Patience and purse of Clients for to wrong.
262Then High Commissions shall fall to decay,
263And Pursuivants and Catchpoles want their pay.
264So shall thy happy Nation ever flourish,
265When truth and righteousness they thus shall nourish.
266When thus in Peace, thine Armies brave send out
267To sack proud Rome, and all her vassals rout.
268There let thy name, thy fame, and valour shine,
269As did thine Ancestors' in Palestine,
270And let her spoils full pay with int'rest be
271Of what unjustly once she poll'd from thee.
272Of all the woes thou canst let her be sped,
273Execute to th' full the vengeance threatened.
274Bring forth the beast that rul'd the world with's beck,
275And tear his flesh, and set your feet on's neck,
276And make his filthy den so desolate
277To th' 'stonishment of all that knew his state.
278This done, with brandish'd swords to Turkey go,--
279(For then what is it but English blades dare do?)
280And lay her waste, for so's the sacred doom,
281And do to Gog as thou hast done to Rome.
282Oh Abraham's seed, lift up your heads on high,
283For sure the day of your redemption's nigh.
284The scales shall fall from your long blinded eyes,
285And him you shall adore who now despise.
286Then fullness of the Nations in shall flow,
287And Jew and Gentile to one worship go.
288Then follows days of happiness and rest.
289Whose lot doth fall to live therein is blest.
290No Canaanite shall then be found 'n th' land,
291And holiness on horses' bells shall stand.
292If this make way thereto, then sigh no more,
293But if at all thou didst not see 't before.
294Farewell, dear mother; Parliament, prevail,
295And in a while you'll tell another tale.
28] Hengist: co-leader of the Jutes (with Horsa), Hengist was brought into England in 449 by Vortigern, king of the Celts, to oppose the Picts, but Hengist eventually turned against the Celts, forced them out of Kent, and founded a new Kentish dynasty himself. See Bede's Ecclesiastical History, 1.15, 2.5.
31] Canutus: Canute, Danish king of England (1016-35).
36] Maud and Stephen: daughter of Henry I and wife of Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou, Maud bore the future Henry II and came to dispute the right of Stephen (ca. 1097-1154), incumbent king of England (1135-43) and nephew of her father, to the throne; after a period of civil war, 1143-53, Stephen resolved the conflict shortly before his death by acknowledging the right of Maud's son as heir to the crown.
39] Edward: Edward II, king of England (1307-27), murdered by followers of his queen, Isabella, and Mortimer.
40] Richard: Richard II, king of England (1377-99), murdered by followers of Henry Bolingbroke, the future Henry IV.
42] the red-white pricking roses: the War of the Roses, from 1455 to 1485, between the house of Lancaster (the red rose) and the house of York (the white rose), resolved when in 1486 Henry VII married Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV, and united the two houses.
43] Richmond: Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, the future Henry VII (1457-1509).
44] the boar: Richard III (1452-85).
46] Armadoe: the great Armada, destroyed off England in 1588.
61] Alcie's son or Henry's daughter: Stephen and Maud (see above,line 36).
63] John: king of England, 1199-1216.
64] French Louis: Louis VIII (1187-1226) invaded England in 1216 but was defeated a year later after the son of the late King John, Henry III, succeeded to the throne.
69] Duke of York: Edmund Plantagenet (1341-1402), founder of the house of York.
Earl of March: Roger de Mortimer (1287-1330), who supported Queen Isabella in the murder of her husband Edward II.
75] Edward Third: Edward III, king of England 1327-77.
Henry Fifth of fame: Henry V, king of England (1413-22), victor over the French at the battle of Agincourt in 1415.
98] Beelzebub: "lord of flies," name for the devil.
112] Edward's youths: Edward V, son of Edward IV; and Richard, duke of York, the princes murdered by Richard III in the Tower
Clarence' hapless son: Edward, earl of Warwick (executed 1499).
113] Jane: Lady Jane Grey, protestant queen of England July 6-19, 1553, and executed by Queen Mary Feb, 12, 1554.
118] hydras: many-headed monsters of classical myth that, having had ahead cut off, replace it with two other heads.
143] Rochelle: La Rochelle, where French protestants (Huguenots) were besieged and defeated 1627-28.
171] Strafford: Sir Thomas Wentworth, first earl of Strafford (1593-1641), main statesman for Charles I, convicted of treason and executed on Tower Hill.
172] Laud: William Laud (1573-1645), archbishop of Canterbury (1633), executed for treason by the Long Parliament for opposing puritan protestantism.
225] Gideon: a hero responsible for defeating the Midianites (Judges 7:18-19).
226] Meroz' curse: Judges 5.23, "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse yet bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty."
232] Baal's vestments: those of a pagan (Canaanite) deity.
233] mitres, surplices: ecclesiastical headdresses and vestments worn by Anglican and Roman priests.
234] Copes, rochets, croziers: ecclesiastical vestments and staffs employed by Anglican and Roman priests.
238] Essex: Robert Devereux, third earl of Essex and leader of the Parliamentary forces 1642-45.
250] Charles: Charles I, king of England (1625-49).
263] pursuivants and catchpoles: officers of arms and sheriff's deputies.
281] Gog: one of two giant figures (the other being Magog) carried in 16th-century London Lord Mayor's processions, based on the mythical giant Gogmagog defeated by Corineus in British prehistory.
282] Abraham's seed: the chosen people of God (Romans 4:13-18).
284] scales: Saul regained his sight on being baptized as Paul (Acts 9:18).
290] Canaanite: pagan people living in ancient Palestine.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: The Tenth Muse Lately sprung up in America. By a Gentlewoman in those parts (London: Stephen Bowtell, 1650): 180-90. See Anne Bradstreet, The Tenth Muse (1650).
First publication date:
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/20
Composition date note: See White 253
Form: Heroic Couplets
Other poems by Anne Bradstreet