"Autobiographies of great nations are written in three manuscripts – a book of deeds, a book of words, and a book of art.
Of the three, I would choose the latter as truest testimony." - Sir Kenneth Smith, Great Civilisations

"I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine." - Leo Tolstoy

I have never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think the pleasures of not writing are so
great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again. - John Updike

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour
is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Anne Bradstreet - The Four Humours in Man's Constitution

Anne Bradstreet was the first woman to be recognized as an accomplished New World Poet. Her volume of poetry The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America ... received considerable favorable attention when it was first published in London in 1650. Eight years after it appeared it was listed by William London in his Catalogue of the Most Vendible Books in England, and George III is reported to have had the volume in his library. Bradstreet's work has endured, and she is still considered to be one of the most important early American poets.
The first section of The Tenth Muse ... includes four long poems, known as the quaternions:
"The Four Elements,"
"The Four Humors of Man,"
"The Four Ages of Man,"
"The Four Seasons"
Each poem consists of a series of orations; the first by earth, air, fire, and water; the second by choler, blood, melancholy, and flegme; the third by childhood, youth, middle age, and old age; the fourth by spring, summer, fall, and winter. In these quaternions Bradstreet demonstrates a mastery of physiology, anatomy, astronomy, Greek metaphysics, and the concepts of medieval and Renaissance cosmology. Although she draws heavily on Sylvester's translation of du Bartas and Helkiah Crooke's anatomical treatise Microcosmographia (1615), Bradstreet's interpretation of their images is often strikingly dramatic. Sometimes she uses material from her own life in these historical and philosophical discourses.
- The Poetry Foundation

The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America,
printed at London, 1650

The four Humours in Man's Constitution
by Anne Bradstreet, c.1612-1672


The former four now ending their discourse,
Ceasing to vaunt their good, or threat their force.
Lo other four step up, crave leave to show
The native qualityes that from them flow:
But first they wisely shew'd their high descent,
Each eldest daughter to each Element.
Choler was own'd by fire, and Blood by air,
Earth knew her black swarth child, water her fair:
All having made obeysance to each Mother,
Had leave to speak, succeeding one the other:
But 'mongst themselves they were at variance,
Which of the four should have predominance.
Choler first hotly claim'd right by her mother,
Who had precedency of all the other:
But Sanguine did disdain what she requir'd,
Pleading her self was most of all desir'd.
Proud Melancholy more envious then the rest,
The second, third or last could not digest.
She was the silentest of all the four,
Her wisdom spake not much, but thought the more
Mild Flegme did not contest for chiefest place,
Only she crav'd to have a vacant space.
Well, thus they parle and chide; but to be brief,
Or will they, nill they, Choler will be chief.
They seing her impetuosity
At present yielded to necessity.
To shew my high descent and pedegree,
Your selves would judge but vain prolixity;
It is acknowledged from whence I came,
It shall suffice to shew you what I am,
My self and mother one, as you shall see,
But shee in greater, I in less degree.
We both once Masculines, the world doth know,
Now Feminines awhile, for love we owe
Unto your Sisterhood, which makes us render
Our noble selves in a less noble gender.
Though under Fire we comprehend all heat,
Yet man for Choler is the proper seat:
I in his heart erect my regal throne,
Where Monarch like I play and sway alone.
Yet many times unto my great disgrace
One of your selves are my Compeers in place,
Where if your rule prove once predominant,
The man proves boyish, sottish, ignorant:
But if you yield subservience unto me,
I make a man, a man in th'high'st degree:
Be he a souldier, I more fence his heart
Then iron Corslet 'gainst a sword or dart.
What makes him face his foe without appal,
To storm a breach, or scale a city wall,
In dangers to account himself more sure
Then timerous Hares whom Castles do immure?
Have you not heard of worthyes, Demi-Gods?
Twixt them and others what is't makes the odds
But valour? whence comes that? from none of you,
Nay milksops at such brunts you look but blew.
Here's sister ruddy, worth the other two,
Who much will talk, but little dares she do,
Unless to Court and claw, to dice and drink,
And there she will out-bid us all, I think,
She loves a fiddle better then a drum,
A Chamber well, in field she dares not come,
She'l ride a horse as bravely as the best,
And break a staff, provided 'be in jest;
But shuns to look on wounds, & blood that's spilt,
She loves her sword only because its gilt.
Then here's our sad black Sister, worse then you.
She'l neither say she will, nor will she doe;
But peevish Malecontent, musing sits,
And by misprissions like to loose her witts:
If great perswasions cause her meet her foe,
In her dull resolution she's so slow,
To march her pace to some is greater pain
Then by a quick encounter to be slain.
But be she beaten, she'l not run away,
She'l first advise if't be not best to stay.
Now let's give cold white sister flegme her right,
So loving unto all she scorns to fight:
If any threaten her, she'l in a trice
Convert from water to congealed ice:
Her teeth will chatter, dead and wan's her face,
And 'fore she be assaulted, quits the place.
She dares not challeng, if I speak amiss,
Nor hath she wit or heat to blush at this.
Here's three of you all see now what you are,
Then yield to me preheminence in war.
Again who fits for learning, science, arts?
Who rarifies the intellectual parts:
From whence fine spirits flow and witty notions:
But tis not from our dull, slow sisters motions:
Nor sister sanguine, from thy moderate heat,
Poor spirits the Liver breeds, which is thy seat.
What comes from thence, my heat refines the same
And through the arteries sends it o're the frame:
The vital spirits they're call'd, and well they may
For when they fail, man turns unto his clay.
The animal I claim as well as these,
The nerves, should I not warm, soon would they freeze
But flegme her self is now provok'd at this
She thinks I never shot so far amiss.
The brain she challengeth, the head's her seat;
But know'ts a foolish brain that wanteth heat.
My absence proves it plain, her wit then flyes
Out at her nose, or melteth at her eyes.
Oh who would miss this influence of thine
To be distill'd, a drop on every Line?
Alas, thou hast no Spirits; thy Company
Will feed a dropsy, or a Tympany,
The Palsy, Gout, or Cramp, or some such dolour:
Thou wast not made, for Souldier or for Scholar;
Of greazy paunch, and bloated cheeks go vaunt,
But a good head from these are dissonant.
But Melancholy, wouldst have this glory thine,
Thou sayst thy wits are staid, subtil and fine;
'Tis true, when I am Midwife to thy birth
Thy self's as dull, as is thy mother Earth:
Thou canst not claim the liver, head nor heart
Yet hast the Seat assign'd, a goodly part
The sinke of all us three, the hateful Spleen
Of that black Region, nature made thee Queen;
Where pain and sore obstruction thou dost work,
Where envy, malice, thy Companions lurk.
If once thou'rt great, what follows thereupon
But bodies wasting, and destruction?
So base thou art, that baser cannot be,
Th'excrement adustion of me.
But I am weary to dilate your shame,
Nor is't my pleasure thus to blur your name,
Only to raise my honour to the Skies,
As objects best appear by contraries.
But Arms, and Arts I claim, and higher things,
The princely qualities befitting Kings,
Whose profound heads I line with policies,
They'r held for Oracles, they are so wise,
Their wrathful looks are death their words are laws
Their Courage it foe, friend, and Subject awes;
But one of you, would make a worthy King
Like our sixth Henry (that same virtuous thing)
That when a Varlet struck him o're the side,
Forsooth you are to blame, he grave reply'd.
Take Choler from a Prince, what is he more
Then a dead Lion, by Beasts triumph'd o're.
Again you know, how I act every part
By th'influence, I still send from the heart:
It's nor your Muscles, nerves, nor this nor that
Do's ought without my lively heat, that's flat:
Nay th'stomack magazine to all the rest
Without my boyling heat cannot digest:
And yet to make my greatness, still more great
What differences, the Sex? but only heat.
And one thing more, to close up my narration
Of all that lives, I cause the propagation.
I have been sparings what I might have said
I love no boasting, that's but Childrens trade.
To what you now shall say I will attend,
And to your weakness gently condescend.
Good Sisters, give me leave, as is my place
To vent my grief, and wipe off my disgrace:
Your selves may plead your wrongs are no whit less
Your patience more then mine, I must confess
Did ever sober tongue such language speak,
Or honesty such tyes unfriendly break?
Dost know thy self so well us so amiss?
Is't arrogance or folly causeth this?
Ile only shew the wrong thou'st done to me,
Then let my sisters right their injury.
To pay with railings is not mine intent,
But to evince the truth by Argument:
I will analyse this thy proud relation
So full of boasting and prevarication,
Thy foolish incongruityes Ile show,
So walk thee till thou'rt cold, then let thee go.
There is no Souldier but thy self (thou sayest,)
No valour upon Earth, but what thou hast
Thy silly provocations I despise,
And leave't to all to judge, where valour lies
No pattern, nor no pattron will I bring
But David, Judah's most heroick King,
Whose glorious deeds in Arms the world can tell,
A rosie cheek Musitian thou know'st well;
He knew well how to handle Sword and Harp,
And how to strike full sweet, as well as sharp,
Thou laugh'st at me for loving merriment,
And scorn'st all Knightly sports at Turnament.
Thou sayst I love my Sword, because it's gilt,
But know, I love the Blade, more then the Hill,
Yet do abhor such temerarious deeds,
As thy unbridled, barbarous Choler breeds:
Thy rudeness counts good manners vanity,
And real Complements base flattery.
For drink, which of us twain like it the best,
Ile go no further then thy nose for test:
Thy other scoffs, not worthy of reply
Shall vanish as of no validity:
Of thy black Calumnies this is but part,
But now Ile shew what souldier thou art.
And though thou'st us'd me with opprobrious spight
My ingenuity must give thee right.
Thy choler is but rage when tis most pure,
But usefull when a mixture can endure;
As with thy mother fire, so tis with thee,
The best of all the four when they agree:
But let her leave the rest, then I presume
Both them and all things else she would consume.
VVhilst us for thine associates thou tak'st,
A Souldier most compleat in all points mak'st:
But when thou scorn'st to take the help we lend,
Thou art a Fury or infernal Fiend.
Witness the execrable deeds thou'st done,
Nor sparing Sex nor Age, nor Sire nor Son;
To satisfie thy pride and cruelty,
Thou oft hast broke bounds of Humanity,
Nay should I tell, thou would'st count me no blab,
How often for the lye, thou'st given the stab.
To take the wall's a sin of so high rate,
That nought but death the same may expiate,
To cross thy will, a challenge doth deserve
So shed'st that blood, thou'rt bounden to preserve
Wilt thou this valour, Courage, Manhood call:
No, know 'tis pride most diabolibal.
If murthers be thy glory, tis no less,
Ile not envy thy feats, nor happiness:
But if in fitting time and place 'gainst foes
For countreys good thy life thou dar'st expose,
Be dangers n'er so high, and courage great,
Ile praise that prowess, fury, Choler, heat:
But such thou never art when all alone,
Yet such when we all four are joyn'd in one.
And when such thou art, even such are we,
The friendly Coadjutors still of thee.
Nextly the Spirits thou dost wholly claim,
Which nat'ral, vital, animal we name:
To play Philosopher I have no list,
Nor yet Physitian, nor Anatomist,
For acting these, l have no will nor Art,
Yet shall with Equity, give thee thy part
For natural, thou dost not much contest;
For there is none (thou sayst) if some not best;
That there are some, and best, I dare averre
Of greatest use, if reason do not erre:
What is there living, which do'nt first derive
His Life now Animal, from vegetive:
If thou giv'st life, I give the nourishment,
Thine without mine, is not, 'tis evident:
But I without thy help, can give a growth
As plants trees, and small Embryon know'th
And if vital Spirits, do flow from thee
I am as sure, the natural, from me:
Be thine the nobler, which I grant, yet mine
Shall justly claim priority of thine.
I am the fountain which thy Cistern fills
Through warm blew Conduits of my venial rills:
What hath the heart, but what's sent from the liver
If thou'rt the taker, I must be the giver.
Then never boast of what thou dost receive:
For of such glory I shall thee bereave.
But why the heart should be usurp'd by thee,
I must confess seems something strange to me:
The spirits through thy heat made perfect are,
But the Materials none of thine, that's clear:
Their wondrous mixture is of blood and air,
The first my self, second my mother fair.
But Ile not force retorts, nor do thee wrong,
Thy fi'ry yellow froth is mixt among,
Challeng not all, 'cause part we do allow;
Thou know'st I've there to do as well as thou:
But thou wilt say I deal unequally,
Their lives the irascible faculty,
Which without all dispute, is Cholers own;
Besides the vehement heat, only there known
Can be imputed, unto none but Fire
Which is thy self, thy Mother and thy Sire
That this is true, I easily can assent
If still you take along my Aliment;
And let me be your partner which is due,
So shall I give the dignity to you:
Again, Stomacks Concoction thou dost claim,
But by what right, nor do'st, nor canst thou name
Unless as heat, it be thy faculty,
And so thou challengest her property.
The help she needs, the loving liver lends,
Who th'benefit o'th' whole ever intends
To meddle further I shall be but shent,
Th'rest to our Sisters is more pertinent;
Your slanders thus refuted takes no place,
Nor what you've said, doth argue my disgrace,
Now through your leaves, some little time I'l spend
My worth in humble manner to commend
This, hot, moist nutritive humour of mine
When 'tis untaint, pure, and most genuine
Shall chiefly take the place, as is my due
Without the least indignity to you.
Of all your qualities I do partake,
And what you single are, the whole I make
Your hot, moist, cold, dry natures are but four,
I moderately am all, what need I more;
As thus, if hot then dry, if moist, then cold,
If this you cann't disprove, then all I hold
My virtues hid, I've let you dimly see
My sweet Complection proves the verity.
This Scarlet die's a badge of what's within
One touch thereof, so beautifies the skin:
Nay, could I be, from all your tangs but pure
Mans life to boundless Time might still endure.
But here one thrusts her heat, wher'ts not requir'd
So suddenly, the body all is fired,
And of the calme sweet temper quite bereft,
Which makes the Mansion, by the Soul soon left.
So Melancholy seizes on a man,
With her unchearful visage, swarth and wan,
The body dryes, the mind sublime doth smother,
And turns him to the womb of's earthy mother:
And flegm likewise can shew her cruel art,
With cold distempers to pain every part:
The lungs she rots, the body wears away,
As if she'd leave no flesh to turn to clay,
Her languishing diseases, though not quick
At length demolishes the Faberick,
All to prevent, this curious care I take,
In th'last concoction segregation make
Of all the perverse humours from mine own,
The bitter choler most malignant known
I turn into his Cell close by my side
The Melancholy to the Spleen t'abide:
Likewise the whey, some use I in the veins,
The overplus I send unto the reins:
But yet for all my toil, my care and skill,
Its doom'd by an irrevocable will
That my intents should meet with interruption,
That mortal man might turn to his corruption.
I might here shew the nobleness of mind
Of such as to the sanguine are inclin'd,
They're liberal, pleasant, kind and courteous,
And like the Liver all benignious.
For arts and sciences they are the fittest;
And maugre Choler still they are the wittiest:
With an ingenious working Phantasie,
A most voluminous large Memory,
And nothing wanting but Solidity.
But why alas, thus tedious should I be,
Thousand examples you may daily see.
If time I have transgrest, and been too long,
Yet could not be more brief without much wrong;
I've scarce wip'd off the spots proud choler cast,
Such venome lies in words, though but a blast:
No braggs i've us'd, to you I dare appeal,
If modesty my worth do not conceal.
I've us'd no bittererss nor taxt your name,
As I to you, to me do ye the same.
He that with two Assailants hath to do,
Had need be armed well and active too.
Especially when friendship is pretended,
That blow's most deadly where it is intended.
Though choler rage and rail, I'le not do so,
The tongue's no weapon to assault a foe:
But sith we fight with words, we might be kind
To spare our selves and beat the whistling wind,
Fair rosie sister, so might'st thou scape free;
I'le flatter for a time as thou didst me:
But when the first offender I have laid,
Thy soothing girds shall fully be repaid.
But Choler be thou cool'd or chaf'd, I'le venter,
And in contentions lists now justly enter.
What mov'd thee thus to vilifie my name,
Not past all reason, but in truth all shame:
Thy fiery spirit shall bear away this prize,
To play such furious pranks I am too wise:
If in a Souldier rashness be so precious,
Know in a General tis most pernicious.
Nature doth teach to shield the head from harm,
The blow that's aim'd thereat is latcht by th'arm.
When in Batalia my foes I face
I then command proud Choler stand thy place,
To use thy sword, thy courage and thy art
There to defend my self, thy better part.
This wariness count not for cowardize,
He is not truly valiant that's not wise.
It's no less glory to defend a town,
Then by assault to gain one not our own;
And if Marcellus bold be call'd Romes sword,
Wise Fabius is her buckler all accord:
And if thy hast my slowness should not temper,
'Twere but a mad irregular distemper;
Enough of that by our sisters heretofore,
Ile come to that which wounds me somewhat more
Of learning, policy thou wouldst bereave me,
But's not thine ignorance shall thus deceive me:
What greater Clark or Politician lives,
Then he whose brain a touch my humour gives?
What is too hot my coldness doth abate,
What's diffluent I do consolidate.
If I be partial judg'd or thought to erre,
The melancholy snake shall it aver,
Whose cold dry head more subtilty doth yield,
Then all the huge beasts of the fertile field.
Again thou dost confine me to the spleen,
As of that only part I were the Queen,
Let me as well make thy precincts the Gall,
So prison thee within that bladder small:
Reduce the man to's principles, then see
If I have not more part then all you three:
What is within, without, of theirs or thine,
Yet time and age shall soon declare it mine.
When death doth seize the man your stock is lost,
When you poor bankrupts prove then have I most.
You'l say here none shall e're disturb my right,
You high born from that lump then take your flight.
Then who's mans friend, when life & all forsakes?
His Mother mine, him to her womb retakes:
Thus he is ours, his portion is the grave,
But while he lives, I'le shew what part I have:
And first the firm dry bones I justly claim,
The strong foundation of the stately frame:
Likewise the usefull Slpeen, though not the best,
Yet is a bowel call'd well as the rest:
The Liver, Stomack, owe their thanks of right,
The first it drains, of th'last quicks appetite.
Laughter (thô thou say malice) flows from hence,
These two in one cannot have residence.
But thou most grosly dost mistake to think
The Spleen for all you three was made a sink,
Of all the rest thou'st nothing there to do,
But if thou hast, that malice is from you.
Again you often touch my swarthy hue,
That black is black, and I am black tis true;
But yet more comely far I dare avow,
Then is thy torrid nose or brazen brow.
But that which shews how high your spight is bent
Is charging me to be thy excrement:
Thy loathsome imputation I defie,
So plain a slander needeth no reply.
When by thy heat thou'st bak'd thy self to crust,
And so art call'd black Choler or adust,
Thou witless think'st that I am thy excretion,
So mean thou art in Art as in discretion:
But by your leave I'le let your greatness see
What Officer thou art to us all three,
The Kitchin Drudge, the cleanser of the sinks
That casts out all that man e're eats or drinks:
If any doubt the truth whence this should come,
Shew them thy passage to th'Duodenum;
Thy biting quality still irritates,
Till filth and thee nature exonerates:
If there thou'rt stopt, to th'Liver thou turn'st in,
And thence with jaundies saffrons all the skin.
No further time Ile spend in confutation,
I trust I've clear'd your slanderous imputation.
I now speak unto all, no more to one,
Pray hear, admire and learn instruction.
My virtues yours surpass without compare,
The first my constancy that jewel rare:
Choler's too rash this golden gift to hold,
And Sanguine is more fickle manifold,
Here, there her restless thoughts do ever fly,
Constant in nothing but unconstancy.
And what Flegme is, we know, like to her mother,
Unstable is the one, and so the other;
With me is noble patience also found,
Impatient Choler loveth not the sound,
What sanguine is, she doth not heed nor care,
Now up, now down, transported like the Air:
Flegme's patient because her nature's tame;
But I, by virtue do acquire the same.
My Temperance, Chastity is eminent,
But these with you, are seldome resident;
Now could I stain my ruddy Sisters face
With deeper red, to shew you her dsgrace,
But rather I with silence vaile her shame
Then cause her blush, while I relate the same.
Nor are ye free from this inormity,
Although she bear the greatest obloquie,
My prudence, judgement, I might now reveal
But wisdom 'tis my wisdome to conceal.
Unto diseases not inclin'd as you,
Nor cold, nor hot, Ague nor Plurisie,
Nor Cough, nor Quinsey, nor the burning Feaver,
I rarely feel to act his fierce endeavour;
My sickness in conceit chiefly doth lye,
What I imagine that's my malady.
Chymeraes strange are in my phantasy,
And things that never were, nor shall I see
I love not talk, Reason lies not in length,
Nor multitude of words argues our strength;
I've done pray sister Flegme proceed in Course,
We shall expect much sound, but little force.
Patient I am, patient i'd need to be,
To bear with the injurious taunts of three,
Though wit I want, and anger I have less,
Enough of both, my wrongs now to express
I've not forgot, how bitter Choler spake
Nor how her gaul on me she causeless brake;
Nor wonder 'twas for hatred there's not small,
Where opposition is Diametrical.
To what is Truth I freely will assent,
Although my Name do suffer detriment,
What's slanderous repell, doubtful dispute,
And when I've nothing left to say be mute.
Valour I want, no Souldier am 'tis true,
I'le leave that manly Property to you;
I love no thundring guns, nor bloody wars,
My polish'd Skin was not ordain'd for Skarrs:
But though the pitched field I've ever fled,
At home the Conquerours have conquered.
Nay, I could tell you what's more true then meet,
That Kings have laid their Scepters at my feet;
When Sister sanguine paints my Ivory face:
The Monarchs bend and sue, but for my grace
My lilly white when joyned with her red,
Princes hath slav'd, and Captains captived,
Country with Country, Greece with Asia fights
Sixty nine Princes, all stout Hero Knights.
Under Troys walls ten years will wear away,
Rather then loose one beauteous Helena.
But 'twere as vain, to prove this truth of mine
As at noon day, to tell the Sun doth shine.
Next difference that 'twixt us twain doth lye
Who doth possess the brain, or thou or I?
Shame forc'd the say, the matter that was mine,
But the Spirits by which it acts are thine:
Thou speakest Truth, and I can say no less,
Thy heat doth much, I candidly confess;
Yet without ostentation I may say,
I do as much for thee another way:
And though I grant, thou art my helper here,
No debtor I because it's paid else where.
With all your flourishes, now Sisters three
Who is't that dare, or can, compare with me,
My excellencies are so great, so many,
I am confounded; fore I speak of any:
The brain's the noblest member all allow,
Its form and Scituation will avow,
Its Ventricles, Membranes and wondrous net,
Galen, Hippocrates drive to a set;
That Divine Ofspring the immortal Soul
Though it in all, and every part be whole,
Within this stately place of eminence,
Doth doubtless keep its mighty residence.
And surely, the Soul sensitive here lives,
Which life and motion to each creature gives,
The Conjugation of the parts, to th'braine
Doth shew, hence flow the pow'rs which they retain
Within this high Built Cittadel, doth lye
The Reason, fancy, and the memory;
The faculty of speech doth here abide,
The Spirits animal, from hence do slide:
The five most noble Senses here do dwell;
Of three it's hard to say, which doth excell.
This point now to discuss, 'longs not to me,
I'le touch the sight, great'st wonder of the three;
The optick Nerve, Coats, humours all are mine,
The watry, glassie, and the Chrystaline;
O mixture strange! O colour colourless,
Thy perfect temperament who can express:
He was no fool who thought the soul lay there,
Whence her affections passions speak so clear.
O good, O bad, O true, O traiterous eyes
What wonderments within your Balls there lyes,
Of all the Senses sight shall be the Queen;
Yet some may wish, O had mine eyes ne're seen.
Mine, likewise is the marrow, of the back,
Which runs through all the Spondles of the rack,
It is the substitute o'th royal brain,
All Nerves, except seven pair, to it retain.
And the strong Ligaments from hence arise,
Which joynt to joynt, the intire body tyes.
Some other parts there issue from the Brain,
Whose worth and use to tell, I must refrain:
Some curious learned Crooke, may these reveal
But modesty, hath charg'd me to conceal
Here's my Epitome of excellence:
For what's the Brains is mine by Consequence.
A foolish brain (quoth Choler) wanting heat
But a mad one say I, where 'tis too great,
Phrensie's worse then folly, one would more glad
With a tame fool converse then with a mad;
For learning then my brain is not the fittest,
Nor will I yield that Choler is the wittiest.
Thy judgement is unsafe, thy fancy little,
For memory the sand is not more brittle;
Again, none's fit for Kingly state but thou,
If Tyrants be the best, I le it allow:
But if love be as requisite as fear,
Then thou and I must make a mixture here.
Well to be brief, I hope now Cholers laid,
And I'le pass by what Sister sanguine said.
To Melancholy I le make no reply,
The worst she said was instability,
And too much talk, both which I here confess
A warning good, hereafter I'le say less.
Let's now be friends; its time our spight were spent,
Lest we too late this rashness do repent,
Such premises will force a sad conclusion,
Unless we agree, all falls into confusion.
Let Sangine with her hot hand Choler hold,
To take her moist my moisture will be bold:
My cold, cold melancholy hand shall clasp;
Her dry, dry Cholers other hand shall grasp.
Two hot, two moist, two cold, two dry here be,
A golden Ring, the Posey VNITY.
Nor jarrs nor scoffs, let none hereafter see,
But all admire our perfect Amity
Nor be discern'd, here's water, earth, air, fire,
But here a compact body, whole intire.
This loving counsel pleas'd them all so well
That flegm was judg'd for kindness to excell.

Anne Bradstreet - The Four Seasons of the Year

Anne Bradstreet was the first woman to be recognized as an accomplished New World Poet. Her volume of poetry The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America ... received considerable favorable attention when it was first published in London in 1650. Eight years after it appeared it was listed by William London in his Catalogue of the Most Vendible Books in England, and George III is reported to have had the volume in his library. Bradstreet's work has endured, and she is still considered to be one of the most important early American poets.
The first section of The Tenth Muse ... includes four long poems, known as the quaternions:
"The Four Elements,"
"The Four Humors of Man,"
"The Four Ages of Man,"
"The Four Seasons"
Each poem consists of a series of orations; the first by earth, air, fire, and water; the second by choler, blood, melancholy, and flegme; the third by childhood, youth, middle age, and old age; the fourth by spring, summer, fall, and winter. In these quaternions Bradstreet demonstrates a mastery of physiology, anatomy, astronomy, Greek metaphysics, and the concepts of medieval and Renaissance cosmology. Although she draws heavily on Sylvester's translation of du Bartas and Helkiah Crooke's anatomical treatise Microcosmographia (1615), Bradstreet's interpretation of their images is often strikingly dramatic. Sometimes she uses material from her own life in these historical and philosophical discourses.
The Four Seasons of the Year
by Anne Bradstreet, c.1612-1672

Another four I've left yet to bring on,
Of four times four the last Quaternion,
The Winter, Summer, Autumn & the Spring,
In season all these Seasons I shall bring:
Sweet Spring like man in his Minority,
At present claim'd, and had priority.
With smiling face and garments somewhat green,
She trim'd her locks, which late had frosted been,
Nor hot nor cold, she spake, but with a breath,
Fit to revive, the nummed earth from death.
Three months (quoth she) are 'lotted to my share
March, April, May of all the rest most fair.
Tenth of the first, Sol into Aries enters,
And bids defiance to all tedious winters,
Crosseth the Line, and equals night and day,
(Stil adds to th'last til after pleasant May)
And now makes glad the darkned northern wights
Who for some months have seen but starry lights.
Now goes the Plow-man to his merry toyle,
He might unloose his winter locked soyl:
The Seeds-man too, doth lavish out his grain,
In hope the more he casts, the more to gain:
The Gardner now superfluous branches lops,
And poles erects for his young clambring hops.
Now digs then sowes his herbs, his flowers & roots
And carefully manures his trees of fruits.
The Pleiades their influence now give,
And all that seem'd as dead afresh doth live.
The croaking frogs, whom nipping winter kil'd
Like birds now chirp, and hop about the field,
The Nightingale, the black-bird and the Thrush
Now tune their layes, on sprayes of every bush.
The wanton frisking Kid, and soft-fleec'd Lambs
Do jump and play before their feeding Dams,
The tender tops of budding grass they crop,
They joy in what they have, but more in hope:
For though the frost hath lost his binding power,
Yet many a fleece of snow and stormy shower
Doth darken Sol's bright eye, makes us remember
The pinching North-west wind of cold December.
My second moneth is April, green and fair,
Of longer dayes, and a more temperate Air:
The Sun in Taurus keeps his residence,
And with his warmer beams glanceth from thence
This is the month whose fruitful showrs produces
All set and sown for all delights and uses:
The Pear, the Plum, and Apple-tree now flourish
The grass grows long the hungry beast to nourish.
The Primrose pale, and azure violet
Among the virduous grass hath nature set,
That when the Sun on's Love (the earth) doth shine
These might as lace set out her garment fine.
The fearfull bird his little house now builds
In trees and walls, in Cities and in fields.
The outside strong, the inside warm and neat;
A natural Artificer compleat.
The clocking hen her chirping chickins leads
With wings & beak defends them from the gleads
My next and last is fruitfull pleasant May,
Wherein the earth is clad in rich aray,
The Sun now enters loving Gemini,
And heats us with the glances of his eye,
Our thicker rayment makes us lay aside
Lest by his fervor we be torrifi'd.
All flowers the Sun now with his beams discloses,
Except the double pinks and matchless Roses.
Now swarms the busy, witty, honey-Bee,
VVhose praise deserves a page from more then me
The cleanly Huswifes Dary's now in th'prime,
Her shelves and firkins fill'd for winter time.
The meads with Cowslips, Honey-suckles dight,
One hangs his head, the other stands upright:
But both rejoyce at th'heavens clear smiling face,
More at her showers, which water them a space.
For fruits my Season yields the early Cherry,
The hasty Peas, and wholsome cool Strawberry.
More solid fruits require a longer time,
Each Season hath his fruit, so hath each Clime:
Each man his own peculiar excellence,
But none in all that hath preheminence.
Sweet fragrant Spring, with thy short pittance fly
Let some describe thee better then can I.
Yet above all this priviledg is thine,
Thy dayes still lengthen without least decline:


When Spring had done, the Summer did begin,
With melted tauny face, and garments thin,
Resembling Fire, Choler, and Middle age,
As Spring did Air, Blood, Youth in's equipage.
Wiping the sweat from of her face that ran,
With hair all wet she puffing thus began;
Bright June, July and August hot are mine,
In'th first Sol doth in crabbed Cancer shine.
His progress to the North now's fully done,
Then retrograde must be my burning Sun,
Who to his southward Tropick still is bent,
Yet doth his parching heat but more augment
Though he decline, because his flames so fair,
Have throughly dry'd the earth, and heat the air.
Like as an Oven that long time hath been heat,
Whose vehemency at length doth grow so great,
That if you do withdraw her burning store,
Tis for a time as fervent as before.
Now go those frolick Swains, the Shepherd Lads
To wash the thick cloth'd flocks with pipes full glad
In the cool streams they labour with delight
Rubbing their dirty coats till they look white:
Whose fleece when finely spun and deeply dy'd
With Robes thereof Kings have been dignifi'd.
Blest rustick Swains, your pleasant quiet life,
Hath envy bred in Kings that were at strife,
Careless of worldly wealth you sing and pipe,
Whilst they'r imbroyl'd in wars & troubles rise:
VVhich made great Bajazet cry out in's woes,
Oh happy shepherd which hath not to lose.
Orthobulus, nor yet Sebastia great,
But whist'leth to thy flock in cold and heat.
Viewing the Sun by day, the Moon by night
Endimions, Dianaes dear delight,
Upon the grass resting your healthy limbs,
By purling Brooks looking how fishes swims.
If pride within your lowly Cells ere haunt,
Of him that was Shepherd then King go vaunt.
This moneth the Roses are distil'd in glasses,
VVhose fragrant smel all made perfumes surpasses
The Cherry, Gooseberry are now in th'prime,
And for all sorts of Pease, this is the time.
July my next, the hott'st in all the year,
The sun through Leo now takes his Career,
VVhose flaming breath doth melt us from afar,
Increased by the star Canicular.
This Month from Julius Cæsar took its name,
By Romans celebrated to his fame.
Now go the Mowers to their slashing toyle,
The Meadowes of their riches to dispoyle,
VVith weary strokes, they take all in their way,
Bearing the burning heat of the long day.
The forks and Rakes do follow them amain,
VVhich makes the aged fields look young again.
The groaning Carts do bear away this prize.
To Stacks and Barns where it for Fodder lyes.
My next and last is August fiery hot
(For much, the Southward Sun abateth not)
This Moneth he keeps with Virgo for a space,
The dryed Earth is parched with his face.
August of great Augustus took its name,
Romes second Emperour of lasting fame,
With sickles now the bending Reapers goe
The russling tress of terra down to mowe;
And bundles up in sheaves, the weighty wheat,
Which after Manchet makes for Kings to eat:
The Barly, Rye and Pease should first had place,
Although their bread have not so white a face.
The Carter leads all home with whistling voyce,
He plow'd with pain, but reaping doth rejoyce;
His sweat, his toyle, his careful wakeful nights,
His fruitful Crop abundantly requites.
Now's ripe the Pear, Pear-plumb, and Apricock,
The prince of plumbs, whose stone's as hard as Rock
The Summer seems but short, the Autumn hasts
To shake his fruits, of most delicious tasts
Like good old Age, whose younger juicy Roots
Hath still ascended, to bear goodly fruits.
Until his head be gray, and strength be gone.
Yet then appears the worthy deeds he'th done:
To feed his boughs exhausted hath his sap,
Then drops his fruits into the eaters lap.


Of Autumn moneths September is the prime,
Now day and night are equal in each Clime,
The twelfth of this Sol riseth in the Line,
And doth in poizing Libra this month shine.
The vintage now is ripe, the grapes are prest,
Whose lively liquor oft is curs'd and blest:
For nought so good, but it may be abused,
But its a precious juice when well its used.
The raisins now in clusters dryed be,
The Orange, Lemon dangle on the tree:
The Pomegranate, the Fig are ripe also,
And Apples now their yellow sides do show.
Of Almonds, Quinces, Wardens, and of Peach,
The season's now at hand of all and each.
Sure at this time, time first of all began,
And in this moneth was made apostate Man:
For then in Eden was not only seen,
Boughs full of leaves, or fruits unripe or green,
Or withered stocks, which were all dry and dead,
But trees with goodly fruits replenished;
Which shews nor Summer, Winter nor the Spring
Our Grand-Sire was of Paradice made King:
Nor could that temp'rate Clime such difference make,
If scited as the most Judicious take.
October is my next, we hear in this
The Northern winter-blasts begin to hiss.
In Scorpio resideth now the Sun,
And his declining heat is almost done.
The fruitless Trees all withered now do stand,
Whose sapless yellow leavs, by winds are fan'd,
Which notes when youth and strength have past their prime
Decrepit age must also have its time.
The Sap doth slily creep towards the Earth
There rests, until the Sun give it a birth.
So doth old Age still tend unto his grave,
Where also he his winter time must have;
But when the Sun of righteousness draws nigh,
His dead old stock, shall mount again on high.
November is my last, for Time doth haste,
We now of winters sharpness 'gins to tast.
This moneth the Sun's in Sagitarius,
So farre remote, his glances warm not us.
Almost at shortest is the shorten'd day,
The Northern pole beholdeth not one ray.
Now Greenland, Groanland, Finland, Lapland, see
No Sun, to lighten their obscurity:
Poor wretches that in total darkness lye,
With minds more dark then is the dark'ned Sky.
Beaf, Brawn, and Pork are now in great request,
And solid meats our stomacks can digest.
This time warm cloaths, full diet, and good fires,
Our pinched flesh, and hungry mawes requires:
Old, cold, dry Age and Earth Autumn resembles,
And Melancholy which most of all dissembles.
I must be short, and shorts, the short'ned day,
What winter hath to tell, now let him say.


Cold, moist, young flegmy winter now doth lye
In swadling Clouts, like new born Infancy
Bound up with frosts, and furr'd with hail & snows,
And like an Infant, still it taller grows;
December is my first, and now the Sun
To th'Southward Tropick, his swift race doth run:
This moneth he's hous'd in horned Capricorn,
From thence he 'gins to length the shortned morn,
Through Christendome with great Feastivity,
Now's held, (but ghest) for blest Nativity.
Cold frozen January next comes in,
Chilling the blood and shrinking up the skin;
In Aquarius now keeps the long wisht Sun,
And Northward his unwearied Course doth run:
The day much longer then it was before,
The cold not lessened, but augmented more.
Now Toes and Ears, and Fingers often freeze,
And Travellers their noses sometimes leese.
Moist snowie February is my last,
I care not how the winter time doth haste.
In Pisces now the golden Sun doth shine,
And Northward still approaches to the Line,
The Rivers 'gin to ope, the snows to melt,
And some warm glances from his face are felt;
Which is increased by the lengthen'd day,
Until by's heat, he drive all cold away,
And thus the year in Circle runneth round:
Where first it did begin, in th'end its found.
My Subjects bare, my Brain is bad,
Or better Lines you should have had:
The first fell in so nat'rally,
I knew not how to pass it by;
The last, though bad I could not mend,
Accept therefore of what is pen'd,
And all the faults that you shall spy
Shall at your feet for pardon cry.


Anne Bradstreet - The Four Elements

Anne Bradstreet was the first woman to be recognized as an accomplished New World Poet. Her volume of poetry The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America ... received considerable favorable attention when it was first published in London in 1650. Eight years after it appeared it was listed by William London in his Catalogue of the Most Vendible Books in England, and George III is reported to have had the volume in his library. Bradstreet's work has endured, and she is still considered to be one of the most important early American poets.
The first section of The Tenth Muse ... includes four long poems, known as the quaternions:
"The Four Elements,"
"The Four Humors of Man,"
"The Four Ages of Man,"
"The Four Seasons"
Each poem consists of a series of orations; the first by earth, air, fire, and water; the second by choler, blood, melancholy, and flegme; the third by childhood, youth, middle age, and old age; the fourth by spring, summer, fall, and winter. In these quaternions Bradstreet demonstrates a mastery of physiology, anatomy, astronomy, Greek metaphysics, and the concepts of medieval and Renaissance cosmology. Although she draws heavily on Sylvester's translation of du Bartas and Helkiah Crooke's anatomical treatise Microcosmographia (1615), Bradstreet's interpretation of their images is often strikingly dramatic. Sometimes she uses material from her own life in these historical and philosophical discourses.

The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America,
printed at London, 1650

The Four Elements
by Anne Bradstreet, c.1612-1672

The Fire, Air, Earth and water did contest
Which was the strongest, noblest and the best,
Who was of greatest use and might'est force;
In placide Terms they thought now to discourse,
That in due order each her turn should speak;
But enmity this amity did break
All would be chief, and all scorn'd to be under
Whence issu'd winds & rains, lightning & thunder
The quaking earth did groan, the Sky lookt black
The Fire, the forced Air, in sunder crack;
The sea did threat the heav'ns, the heavn's the earth,
All looked like a Chaos or new birth:
Fire broyled Earth, & scorched Earth it choaked
Both by their darings, water so provoked
That roaring in it came, and with its source
Soon made the Combatants abate their force
The rumbling hissing, puffing was so great
The worlds confusion, it did seem to threat
Till gentle Air, Contention so abated
That betwixt hot and cold, she arbitrated
The others difference, being less did cease
All storms now laid, and they in perfect peace
That Fire should first begin, the rest consent,
The noblest and most active Element.


Anne Bradstreet - The Four Ages of Man

Anne Bradstreet was the first woman to be recognized as an accomplished New World Poet. Her volume of poetry The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America ... received considerable favorable attention when it was first published in London in 1650. Eight years after it appeared it was listed by William London in his Catalogue of the Most Vendible Books in England, and George III is reported to have had the volume in his library. Bradstreet's work has endured, and she is still considered to be one of the most important early American poets.
The first section of The Tenth Muse ... includes four long poems, known as the quaternions:

"The Four Elements,"
"The Four Humors of Man,"
"The Four Ages of Man,"
"The Four Seasons"

Each poem consists of a series of orations; the first by earth, air, fire, and water; the second by choler, blood, melancholy, and flegme; the third by childhood, youth, middle age, and old age; the fourth by spring, summer, fall, and winter. In these quaternions Bradstreet demonstrates a mastery of physiology, anatomy, astronomy, Greek metaphysics, and the concepts of medieval and Renaissance cosmology. Although she draws heavily on Sylvester's translation of du Bartas and Helkiah Crooke's anatomical treatise Microcosmographia (1615), Bradstreet's interpretation of their images is often strikingly dramatic. Sometimes she uses material from her own life in these historical and philosophical discourses.

- The Poetry Foundation

The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America,
printed at London, 1650

The Four Ages of Man
by Anne Bradstreet, c.1612-1672

Lo now! four other acts upon the stage,
Childhood, and Youth, the Manly, and Old-age.
The first: son unto Phlegm, grand-child to water,
Unstable, supple, moist, and cold’s his Nature.
The second: frolic claims his pedigree;
From blood and air, for hot and moist is he.
The third of fire and choler is compos’d,
Vindicative, and quarrelsome dispos’d.
The last, of earth and heavy melancholy,
Solid, hating all lightness, and all folly.
Childhood was cloth’d in white, and given to show,
His spring was intermixed with some snow.
Upon his head a Garland Nature set:
Of Daisy, Primrose, and the Violet.
Such cold mean flowers (as these) blossom betime,
Before the Sun hath throughly warm’d the clime.
His hobby striding, did not ride, but run,
And in his hand an hour-glass new begun,
In dangers every moment of a fall,
And when ‘tis broke, then ends his life and all.
But if he held till it have run its last,
Then may he live till threescore years or past.
Next, youth came up in gorgeous attire
(As that fond age, doth most of all desire),
His Suit of Crimson, and his Scarf of Green.
In’s countenance, his pride quickly was seen.
Garland of Roses, Pinks, and Gillyflowers
Seemed to grow on’s head (bedew’d with showers).
His face as fresh, as is Aurora fair,
When blushing first, she ‘gins to red the Air.
No wooden horse, but one of metal try’d:
He seems to fly, or swim, and not to ride.
Then prancing on the Stage, about he wheels;
But as he went, death waited at his heels.
The next came up, in a more graver sort,
As one that cared for a good report.
His Sword by’s side, and choler in his eyes,
But neither us’d (as yet) for he was wise,
Of Autumn fruits a basket on his arm,
His golden rod in’s purse, which was his charm.
And last of all, to act upon this Stage,
Leaning upon his staff, comes up old age.
Under his arm a Sheaf of wheat he bore,
A Harvest of the best: what needs he more?
In’s other hand a glass, ev’n almost run,
This writ about: This out, then I am done.
His hoary hairs and grave aspect made way,
And all gave ear to what he had to say.
These being met, each in his equipage
Intend to speak, according to their age,
But wise Old-age did with all gravity
To childish childhood give precedency,
And to the rest, his reason mildly told:
That he was young, before he grew so old.
To do as he, the rest full soon assents,
Their method was that of the Elements,
That each should tell what of himself he knew,
Both good and bad, but yet no more then’s true.
With heed now stood, three ages of frail man,
To hear the child, who crying, thus began.
Ah me! conceiv’d in sin, and born in sorrow,
A nothing, here to day, but gone to morrow,
Whose mean beginning, blushing can’t reveal,
But night and darkness must with shame conceal.
My mother’s breeding sickness, I will spare,
Her nine months’ weary burden not declare.
To shew her bearing pangs, I should do wrong,
To tell that pain, which can’t be told by tongue.
With tears into this world I did arrive;
My mother still did waste, as I did thrive,
Who yet with love and all alacity,
Spending was willing to be spent for me.
With wayward cries, I did disturb her rest,
Who sought still to appease me with her breast;
With weary arms, she danc’d, and By, By, sung,
When wretched I (ungrate) had done the wrong.
When Infancy was past, my Childishness
Did act all folly that it could express.
My silliness did only take delight,
In that which riper age did scorn and slight,
In Rattles, Bables, and such toyish stuff.
My then ambitious thoughts were low enough.
My high-born soul so straitly was confin’d
That its own worth it did not know nor mind.
This little house of flesh did spacious count,
Through ignorance, all troubles did surmount,
Yet this advantage had mine ignorance,
Freedom from Envy and from Arrogance.
How to be rich, or great, I did not cark,
A Baron or a Duke ne’r made my mark,
Nor studious was, Kings favours how to buy,
With costly presents, or base flattery;
No office coveted, wherein I might
Make strong my self and turn aside weak right.
No malice bare to this or that great Peer,
Nor unto buzzing whisperers gave ear.
I gave no hand, nor vote, for death, of life.
I’d nought to do, ‘twixt Prince, and peoples’ strife.
No Statist I: nor Marti’list i’ th’ field.
Where e’re I went, mine innocence was shield.
My quarrels, not for Diadems, did rise,
But for an Apple, Plumb, or some such prize.
My strokes did cause no death, nor wounds, nor scars.
My little wrath did cease soon as my wars.
My duel was no challenge, nor did seek.
My foe should weltering, with his bowels reek.
I had no Suits at law, neighbours to vex,
Nor evidence for land did me perplex.
I fear’d no storms, nor all the winds that blows.
I had no ships at Sea, no fraughts to loose.
I fear’d no drought, nor wet; I had no crop,
Nor yet on future things did place my hope.
This was mine innocence, but oh the seeds
Lay raked up of all the cursed weeds,
Which sprouted forth in my insuing age,
As he can tell, that next comes on the stage.
But yet me let me relate, before I go,
The sins and dangers I am subject to:
From birth stained, with Adam’s sinful fact,
From thence I ‘gan to sin, as soon as act;
A perverse will, a love to what’s forbid;
A serpent’s sting in pleasing face lay hid;
A lying tongue as soon as it could speak
And fifth Commandment do daily break;
Oft stubborn, peevish, sullen, pout, and cry;
Then nought can please, and yet I know not why.
As many was my sins, so dangers too,
For sin brings sorrow, sickness, death, and woe,
And though I miss the tossings of the mind,
Yet griefs in my frail flesh I still do find.
What gripes of wind, mine infancy did pain?
What tortures I, in breeding teeth sustain?
What crudities my cold stomach hath bred?
Whence vomits, worms, and flux have issued?
What breaches, knocks, and falls I daily have?
And some perhaps, I carry to my grave.
Sometimes in fire, sometimes in water fall:
Strangely preserv’d, yet mind it not at all.
At home, abroad, my danger’s manifold
That wonder ‘tis, my glass till now doth hold.
I’ve done: unto my elders I give way,
For ‘tis but little that a child can say.
My goodly clothing and beauteous skin
Declare some greater riches are within,
But what is best I‘ll first present to view,
And then the worst, in a more ugly hue,
For thus to do we on this Stage assemble,
Then let not him, which hath most craft dissemble.
Mine education, and my learning‘s such,
As might my self, and others, profit much:
With nurture trained up in virtue‘s Schools;
Of Science, Arts, and Tongues, I know the rules;
The manners of the Court, I likewise know,
Nor ignorant what they in Country do.
The brave attempts of valiant Knights I prize
That dare climb Battlements, rear‘d to the skies.
The snorting Horse, the Trumpet, Drum I like,
The glist‘ring Sword, and well advanced Pike.
I cannot lie in trench before a Town,
Nor wait til good advice our hopes do crown.
I scorn the heavy Corslet, Musket-proof;
I fly to catch the Bullet that‘s aloof.
Though thus in field, at home, to all most kind,
So affable that I do suit each mind,
I can insinuate into the breast
And by my mirth can raise the heart deprest.
Sweet Music rapteth my harmonious Soul,
And elevates my thoughts above the Pole.
My wit, my bounty, and my courtesy
Makes all to place their future hopes on me.
This is my best, but youth (is known) alas,
To be as wild as is the snuffing Ass,
As vain as froth, as vanity can be,
That who would see vain man may look on me:
My gifts abus‘d, my education lost,
My woful Parents‘ longing hopes all crost;
My wit evaporates in merriment;
My valour in some beastly quarrel‘s spent;
Martial deeds I love not, ‘cause they’re virtuous,
But doing so, might seem magnanimous.
My Lust doth hurry me to all that’s ill,
I know no Law, nor reason, but my will;
Sometimes lay wait to take a wealthy purse
Or stab the man in’s own defence, that’s worse.
Sometimes I cheat (unkind) a female Heir
Of all at once, who not so wise, as fair,
Trusteth my loving looks and glozing tongue
Until her friends, treasure, and honour’s gone.
Sometimes I sit carousing others’ health
Until mine own be gone, my wit, and wealth.
From pipe to pot, from pot to words and blows,
For he that loveth Wine wanteth no woes.
Days, nights, with Ruffins, Roarers, Fiddlers spend,
To all obscenity my ears I bend,
All counsel hate which tends to make me wise,
And dearest friends count for mine enemies.
If any care I take, ‘tis to be fine,
For sure my suit more than my virtues shine.
If any time from company I spare,
‘Tis spent in curling, frisling up my hair,
Some young Adonais I do strive to be.
Sardana Pallas now survives in me.
Cards, Dice, and Oaths, concomitant, I love;
To Masques, to Plays, to Taverns still I move;
And in a word, if what I am you’d hear,
Seek out a British, bruitish Cavalier.
Such wretch, such monster am I; but yet more
I want a heart all this for to deplore.
Thus, thus alas! I have mispent my time,
My youth, my best, my strength, my bud, and prime,
Remembring not the dreadful day of Doom,
Nor yet the heavy reckoning for to come,
Though dangers do attend me every hour
And ghastly death oft threats me with her power:
Sometimes by wounds in idle combats taken,
Sometimes by Agues all my body shaken;
Sometimes by Fevers, all my moisture drinking,
My heart lies frying, and my eyes are sinking.
Sometimes the Cough, Stitch, painful Pleurisy,
With sad affrights of death, do menace me.
Sometimes the loathsome Pox my face be-mars
With ugly marks of his eternal scars.
Sometimes the Frenzy strangely mads my Brain
That oft for it in Bedlam I remain.
Too many’s my Diseases to recite,
That wonder ‘tis I yet behold the light,
That yet my bed in darkness is not made,
And I in black oblivion’s den long laid.
Of Marrow full my bones, of Milk my breasts,
Ceas’d by the gripes of Serjeant Death's Arrests:
Thus I have said, and what I’ve said you see,
Childhood and youth is vain, yea vanity.
Middle Age
Childhood and youth forgot, sometimes I’ve seen,
And now am grown more staid that have been green,
What they have done, the same was done by me:
As was their praise, or shame, so mine must be.
Now age is more, more good ye do expect;
But more my age, the more is my defect.
But what’s of worth, your eyes shall first behold,
And then a world of dross among my gold.
When my Wild Oats were sown, and ripe, and mown,
I then receiv’d a harvest of mine own.
My reason, then bad judge, how little hope
Such empty seed should yield a better crop.
I then with both hands graspt the world together,
Thus out of one extreme into another,
But yet laid hold on virtue seemingly:
Who climbs without hold, climbs dangerously.
Be my condition mean, I then take pains
My family to keep, but not for gains.
If rich, I’m urged then to gather more
To bear me out i’ th’ world and feed the poor;
If a father, then for children must provide,
But if none, then for kindred near ally’d;
If Noble, then mine honour to maintain;
If not, yet wealth, Nobility can gain.
For time, for place, likewise for each relation,
I wanted not my ready allegation.
Yet all my powers for self-ends are not spent,
For hundreds bless me for my bounty sent,
Whose loins I’ve cloth’d, and bellies I have fed,
With mine own fleece, and with my household bread.
Yea, justice I have done, was I in place,
To cheer the good and wicked to deface.
The proud I crush’d, th’oppressed I set free,
The liars curb’d but nourisht verity.
Was I a pastor, I my flock did feed
And gently lead the lambs, as they had need.
A Captain I, with skill I train’d my band
And shew’d them how in face of foes to stand.
If a Soldier, with speed I did obey
As readily as could my Leader say.
Was I a laborer, I wrought all day
As cheerfully as ere I took my pay.
Thus hath mine age (in all) sometimes done well;
Sometimes mine age (in all) been worse than hell.
In meanness, greatness, riches, poverty
Did toil, did broil; oppress’d, did steal and lie.
Was I as poor as poverty could be,
Then baseness was companion unto me.
Such scum as Hedges and High-ways do yield,
As neither sow, nor reap, nor plant, nor build.
If to Agriculture I was ordain’d,
Great labours, sorrows, crosses I sustain’d.
The early Cock did summon, but in vain,
My wakeful thoughts up to my painful gain.
For restless day and night, I’m robb’d of sleep
By cankered care, who sentinel doth keep.
My weary breast rest from his toil can find,
But if I rest, the more distrest my mind.
If happiness my sordidness hath found,
‘Twas in the crop of my manured ground:
My fatted Ox, and my exuberous Cow,
My fleeced Ewe, and ever farrowing Sow.
To greater things I never did aspire,
My dunghill thoughts or hopes could reach no higher.
If to be rich, or great, it was my fate.
How was I broil’d with envy, and with hate?
Greater than was the great’st was my desire,
And greater still, did set my heart on fire.
If honour was the point to which I steer’d,
To run my hull upon disgrace I fear’d,
But by ambitious sails I was so carried
That over flats, and sands, and rocks I hurried,
Opprest, and sunk, and sack’d, all in my way
That did oppose me to my longed bay.
My thirst was higher than Nobility
And oft long’d sore to taste on Royalty,
Whence poison, Pistols, and dread instruments
Have been curst furtherers of mine intents.
Nor Brothers, Nephews, Sons, nor Sires I’ve spar’d.
When to a Monarchy my way they barr'’d,
There set, I rid my self straight out of hand
Of such as might my son, or his withstand,
Then heapt up gold and riches as the clay,
Which others scatter like the dew in May.
Sometimes vain-glory is the only bait
Whereby my empty school is lur’d and caught.
Be I of worth, of learning, or of parts,
I judge I should have room in all men’s hearts;
And envy gnaws if any do surmount.
I hate for to be had in small account.
If Bias like, I’m stript unto my skin;
I glory in my wealth I have within.
Thus good, and bad, and what I am, you see,
Now in a word, what my diseases be:
The vexing Stone, in bladder and in reins,
Torments me with intolerable pains;
The windy cholic oft my bowels rend,
To break the darksome prison, where it’s penn’d;
The knotty Gout doth sadly torture me,
And the restraining lame Sciatica;
The Quinsy and the Fevers often distaste me,
And the Consumption to the bones doth waste me,
Subject to all Diseases, that’s the truth,
Though some more incident to age, or youth;
And to conclude, I may not tedious be,
Man at his best estate is vanity.
Old Age
What you have been, ev’n such have I before,
And all you say, say I, and something more.
Babe's innocence, Youth’s wildness I have seen,
And in perplexed Middle-age have been,
Sickness, dangers, and anxieties have past,
And on this Stage am come to act my last.
I have been young, and strong, and wise as you
But now, Bis pueri senes is too true.
In every Age I’ve found much vanity.
An end of all perfection now I see.
It’s not my valour, honour, nor my gold,
My ruin’d house, now falling can uphold;
It’s not my Learning, Rhetoric, wit so large,
Now hath the power, Death’s Warfare, to discharge.
It’s not my goodly house, nor bed of down,
That can refresh, or ease, if Conscience frown;
Nor from alliance now can I have hope,
But what I have done well, that is my prop.
He that in youth is godly, wise, and sage
Provides a staff for to support his age.
Great mutations, some joyful, and some sad,
In this short Pilgrimage I oft have had.
Sometimes the Heavens with plenty smil’d on me,
Sometimes, again, rain’d all adversity;
Sometimes in honour, sometimes in disgrace,
Sometime an abject, then again in place:
Such private changes oft mine eyes have seen.
In various times of state I’ve also been.
I’ve seen a Kingdom flourish like a tree
When it was rul’d by that Celestial she,
And like a Cedar others so surmount
That but for shrubs they did themselves account.
Then saw I France, and Holland sav’d, Calais won,
And Philip and Albertus half undone.
I saw all peace at home, terror to foes,
But ah, I saw at last those eyes to close,
And then, me thought, the world at noon grew dark
When it had lost that radiant Sun-like spark.
In midst of griefs, I saw some hopes revive
(For ‘twas our hopes then kept our hearts alive);
I saw hopes dash’t, our forwardness was shent,
And silenc’d we, by Act of Parliament.
I’ve seen from Rome, an execrable thing,
A plot to blow up Nobles and their King.
I’ve seen designs at Ree and Cades cross’t,
And poor Palatinate for every lost.
I’ve seen a Prince to live on others’ lands,
A Royal one, by alms from Subjects’ hands.
I’ve seen base men, advanc’d to great degree,
And worthy ones, put to extremity,
But not their Prince’s love, nor state so high,
Could once reverse, their shameful destiny.
I’ve seen one stabb’d, another lose his head,
And others fly their Country through their dread.
I’ve seen, and so have ye, for ‘tis but late,
The desolation of a goodly State.
Plotted and acted so that none can tell
Who gave the counsell, but the Prince of hell.
I’ve seen a land unmoulded with great pain,
But yet may live to see’t made up again.
I’ve seen it shaken, rent, and soak’d in blood,
But out of troubles ye may see much good.
These are no old wives’ tales, but this is truth.
We old men love to tell, what’s done in youth.
But I return from whence I stept awry;
My memory is short and brain is dry.
My Almond-tree (gray hairs) doth flourish now,
And back, once straight, begins apace to bow.
My grinders now are few, my sight doth fail,
My skin is wrinkled, and my cheeks are pale.
No more rejoice, at music’s pleasant noise,
But do awake at the cock’s clanging voice.
I cannot scent savours of pleasant meat,
Nor sapors find in what I drink or eat.
My hands and arms, once strong, have lost their might.
I cannot labour, nor I cannot fight:
My comely legs, as nimble as the Roe,
Now stiff and numb, can hardly creep or go.
My heart sometimes as fierce, as Lion bold,
Now trembling, and fearful, sad, and cold.
My golden Bowl and silver Cord, e’re long,
Shall both be broke, by wracking death so strong.
I then shall go whence I shall come no more.
Sons, Nephews, leave, my death for to deplore.
In pleasures, and in labours, I have found
That earth can give no consolation sound
To great, to rich, to poor, to young, or old,
To mean, to noble, fearful, or to bold.
From King to beggar, all degrees shall find
But vanity, vexation of the mind.
Yea, knowing much, the pleasant’st life of all
Hath yet amongst that sweet, some bitter gall.
Though reading others’ Works doth much refresh,
Yet studying much brings weariness to th’ flesh.
My studies, labours, readings all are done,
And my last period can e’en elmost run.
Corruption, my Father, I do call,
Mother, and sisters both; the worms that crawl
In my dark house, such kindred I have store.
There I shall rest till heavens shall be no more;
And when this flesh shall rot and be consum’d,
This body, by this soul, shall be assum’d;
And I shall see with these same very eyes
My strong Redeemer coming in the skies.
Triumph I shall, o’re Sin, o’re Death, o’re Hell,
And in that hope, I bid you all farewell.