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Short poem

Anne Bradstreet (ca. 1612-1672)

The Flesh and the Spirit

              1In secret place where once I stood
              2Close by the Banks of Lacrim flood,
              3I heard two sisters reason on
              4Things that are past and things to come.
              5One Flesh was call'd, who had her eye
              6On worldly wealth and vanity;
              7The other Spirit, who did rear
              8Her thoughts unto a higher sphere.
              9"Sister," quoth Flesh, "what liv'st thou on
            10Nothing but Meditation?
            11Doth Contemplation feed thee so
            12Regardlessly to let earth go?
            13Can Speculation satisfy
            14Notion without Reality?
            15Dost dream of things beyond the Moon
            16And dost thou hope to dwell there soon?
            17Hast treasures there laid up in store
            18That all in th' world thou count'st but poor?
            19Art fancy-sick or turn'd a Sot
            20To catch at shadows which are not?
            21Come, come. I'll show unto thy sense,
            22Industry hath its recompence.
            23What canst desire, but thou maist see
            24True substance in variety?
            25Dost honour like? Acquire the same,
            26As some to their immortal fame;
            27And trophies to thy name erect
            28Which wearing time shall ne'er deject.
            29For riches dost thou long full sore?
            30Behold enough of precious store.
            31Earth hath more silver, pearls, and gold
            32Than eyes can see or hands can hold.
            33Affects thou pleasure? Take thy fill.
            34Earth hath enough of what you will.
            35Then let not go what thou maist find
            36For things unknown only in mind."

            37"Be still, thou  unregenerate part,
            38Disturb no more my settled heart,
            39For I have vow'd (and so will do)
            40Thee as a foe still to pursue,
            41And combat with thee will and must
            42Until I see thee laid in th' dust.
            43Sister we are, yea twins we be,
            44Yet deadly feud 'twixt thee and me,
            45For from one father are we not.
            46Thou by old Adam wast begot,
            47But my arise is from above,
            48Whence my dear father I do love.
            49Thou speak'st me fair but hat'st me sore.
            50Thy flatt'ring shews I'll trust no more.
            51How oft thy slave hast thou me made
            52When I believ'd what thou hast said
            53And never had more cause of woe
            54Than when I did what thou bad'st do.
            55I'll stop mine ears at these thy charms
            56And count them for my deadly harms.
            57Thy sinful pleasures I do hate,
            58Thy riches are to me no bait.
            59Thine honours do, nor will I love,
            60For my ambition lies above.
            61My greatest honour it shall be
            62When I am victor over thee,
            63And Triumph shall, with laurel head,
            64When thou my Captive shalt be led.
            65How I do live, thou need'st not scoff,
            66For I have meat thou know'st not of.
            67The hidden Manna I do eat;
            68The word of life, it is my meat.
            69My thoughts do yield me more content
            70Than can thy hours in pleasure spent.
            71Nor are they shadows which I catch,
            72Nor fancies vain at which I snatch
            73But reach at things that are so high,
            74Beyond thy dull Capacity.
            75Eternal substance I do see
            76With which inriched I would be.
            77Mine eye doth pierce the heav'ns and see
            78What is Invisible to thee.
            79My garments are not silk nor gold,
            80Nor such like trash which Earth doth hold,
            81But Royal Robes I shall have on,
            82More glorious than the glist'ring Sun.
            83My Crown not Diamonds, Pearls, and gold,
            84But such as Angels' heads infold.
            85The City where I hope to dwell,
            86There's none on Earth can parallel.
            87The stately Walls both high and trong
            88Are made of precious Jasper stone,
            89The Gates of Pearl, both rich and clear,
            90And Angels are for Porters there.
            91The Streets thereof transparent gold
            92Such as no Eye did e're behold.
            93A Crystal River there doth run
            94Which doth proceed from the Lamb's Throne.
            95Of Life, there are the waters sure
            96Which shall remain forever pure.
            97Nor Sun nor Moon they have no need
            98For glory doth from God proceed.
            99No Candle there, nor yet Torch light,
          100For there shall be no darksome night.
          101From sickness and infirmity
          102Forevermore they shall be free.
          103Nor withering age shall e're come there,
          104But beauty shall be bright and clear.
          105This City pure is not for thee,
          106For things unclean there shall not be.
          107If I of Heav'n may have my fill,
          108Take thou the world, and all that will."


2] Lacrim flood: a torrent of tears.

67] Manna: heavenly food (Revelation 2.17).

76] inriched: probably sounded "inrichèd."

85] The City: New Jerusalem (Revelation 21-22).

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: Anne Bradstreet, Several Poems, 2nd edn. (Boston: John Foster, 1678). Cf. The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet, ed. Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., and Allan P. Robb (Boston: Twayne, 1981): 175-76.
First publication date: 1678
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/20

Form: Tetrameter Couplets

Other poems by Anne Bradstreet