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Title of Poem: A Dialogue between Old England and New Part 1 by Anne Bradstreet
Category : Love Poems
Alas, dear Mother, fairest Queen and best,
With honour, wealth, and peace happy and blest,
What ails thee hang thy head, and cross thine arms,
And sit i' the dust to sigh these sad alarms?
What deluge of new woes thus over-whelm
The glories of thy ever famous Realm?
What means this wailing tone, this mournful guise?
Ah, tell thy Daughter; she may sympathize.
Art ignorant indeed of these my woes,
Or must my forced tongue these griefs disclose,
And must my self dissect my tatter'd state,
Which Amazed Christendom stands wondering at?
And thou a child, a Limb, and dost not feel
My weak'ned fainting body now to reel?
This physic-purging-potion I have taken
Will bring Consumption or an Ague quaking,
Unless some Cordial thou fetch from high,
Which present help may ease my malady.
If I decease, dost think thou shalt survive?
Or by my wasting state dost think to thrive?
Then weigh our case, if 't be not justly sad.
Let me lament alone, while thou art glad.
And thus, alas, your state you much deplore
In general terms, but will not say wherefore.
What Medicine shall I seek to cure this woe,
If th' wound's so dangerous, I may not know?
But you, perhaps, would have me guess it out.
What, hath some Hengist like that Saxon stout
By fraud and force usurp'd thy flow'ring crown,
Or by tempestuous Wars thy fields trod down?
Or hath Canutus, that brave valiant Dane,
The regal peaceful Sceptre from thee ta'en?
Or is 't a Norman whose victorious hand
With English blood bedews thy conquered Land?
Or is 't intestine Wars that thus offend?
Do Maud and Stephen for the Crown contend?
Do Barons rise and side against their King,
And call in Foreign aid to help the thing?
Must Edward be depos'd? Or is 't the hour
That second Richard must be clapp'd i' th' Tower?
Or is it the fatal jar, again begun,
That from the red, white pricking Roses sprung?
Must Richmond's aid the Nobles now implore
To come and break the tushes of the Boar?
If none of these, dear Mother, what's your woe?
Pray, do not fear Spain's bragging Armado.
Doth your Ally, fair France, conspire your wrack,
Or doth the Scots play false behind your back?
Doth Holland quit you ill for all your love?
Whence is this storm, from Earth or Heaven above?
Is 't drought, is 't Famine, or is 't Pestilence?
Dost feel the smart, or fear the consequence?
Your humble Child entreats you shew your grief.
Though Arms nor Purse she hath for your relief--
Such is her poverty,--yet shall be found
A suppliant for your help, as she is bound.
I must confess some of those Sores you name
My beauteous Body at this present maim,
But foreign Foe nor feigned friend I fear,
For they have work enough, thou knowest, elsewhere.
Nor is it Alcie's son and Henry's Daughter
Whose proud contention cause this slaughter;
Nor Nobles siding to make John no King,
French Louis unjustly to the Crown to bring;
No Edward, Richard, to lose rule and life,
Nor no Lancastrians to renew old strife;
No Crook-backt Tyrant now usurps the Seat, Whose tearing tusks did wound, and kill, and threat. No Duke of
York nor Earl of March to soil
Their hands in Kindred's blood whom they did foil;
No need of Tudor Roses to unite:
None knows which is the Red or which the White.
Spain's braving Fleet a second time is sunk.
France knows how of my fury she hath drunk
By Edward third and Henry fifth of fame;
Her Lilies in my Arms avouch the same.
My Sister Scotland hurts me now no more,
Though she hath been injurious heretofore.
What Holland is, I am in some suspense,
But trust not much unto his Excellence.
For wants, sure some I feel, but more I fear;
And for the Pestilence, who knows how near?
Famine and Plague, two sisters of the Sword,
Destruction to a Land doth soon afford.
They're for my punishments ordain'd on high,
Unless thy tears prevent it speedily.
But yet I answer not what you demand
To shew the grievance of my troubled Land.
Before I tell the effect I'll shew the cause,
Which are my sins--the breach of sacred Laws:
Idolatry, supplanter of a N ation,
With foolish superstitious adoration,
Are lik'd and countenanc'd by men of might,
The Gospel is trod down and hath no right.
Church Offices are sold and bought for gain
That Pope had hope to find Rome here again.
For Oaths and Blasphemies did ever ear
From Beelzebub himself such language hear?
What scorning of the Saints of the most high!
What injuries did daily on them lie!
What false reports, what nick-names did they take,
Not for their own, but for their Master's sake!
And thou, poor soul, wast jeer'd among the rest;
Thy flying for the Truth I made a jest.
For Sabbath-breaking and for Drunkenness
Did ever Land profaneness more express?
From crying bloods yet cleansed am not I,
Martyrs and others dying causelessly.
How many Princely heads on blocks laid down
For nought but title to a fading Crown!
'Mongst all the cruelties which I have done,
Oh, Edward's Babes, and Clarence's hapless Son,
O Jane, why didst thou die in flow'ring prime?--
Because of Royal Stem, that was thy crime.
For Bribery, Adultery, for Thefts, and Lies
Where is the Nation I can't paralyze?
With Usury, Extortion, and Oppression,
These be the Hydras of my stout transgression;
These be the bitter fountains, heads, and roots
Whence flow'd the source, the sprigs, the boughs, and fruits.
Of more than thou canst hear or I relate,
That with high hand I still did perpetrate,
For these were threat'ned the woeful day
I mocked the Preachers, put it fair away.
The Sermons yet upon record do stand
That cried destruction to my wicked Land.
These Prophets' mouths (all the while) was stopt,
Unworthily, some backs whipt, and ears crept;
Their reverent cheeks bear the glorious marks
Of stinking, stigmatizing Romish Clerks;
Some lost their livings, some in prison pent,
Some grossly fined, from friends to exile went:
Their silent tongues to heaven did vengeance cry,
Who heard their cause, and wrongs judg'd righteously,
And will repay it sevenfold in my lap.
This is fore-runner of my after-clap.
Nor took I warning by my neighbors' falls.
I saw sad Germany's dismantled walls,
I saw her people famish'd, Nobles slain,
Her fruitful land a barren heath remain.
I saw (unmov'd) her Armies foil'd and fled,
Wives forc'd, babes toss'd, her houses calcined.
I saw strong Rochelle yield'd to her foe,
Thousands of starved Christians there also.
I saw poor Ireland bleeding out her last,
Such cruelty as all reports have past.
Mine heart obdurate stood not yet aghast.
Now sip I of that cup, and just 't may be
The bottom dregs reserved are for me.
To all you've said, sad mother, I assent.
Your fearful sins great cause there 's to lament.
My guilty hands (in part) hold up with you,
A sharer in your punishment's my due.
But all you say amounts to this effect,
Not what you feel, but what you do expect.
Pray, in plain terms, what is your present grief?
Then let's join heads and hands for your relief.