Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A DIALOGUE BETWEEN OLD ENGLAND AND NEW, by ANNE BRADSTREET



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A DIALOGUE BETWEEN OLD ENGLAND AND NEW, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Alas, dear mother, fairest queen and best
Last Line: And in a while, you'll tell another tale.
Subject(s): Children; Home; Marriage; Puritans; Sickness; Childhood; Weddings; Husbands; Wives; Illness


New England

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' th' dust, to sigh these sad alarms?
What deluge of new woes thus overwhelm
The glories of thy ever famous realm?
What means this wailing tone, this mournful guise?
Ah, tell thy daughter, she may sympathize.

Old England

Art ignorant indeed of these my woes?
Or must my forced tongue these griefs disclose?
And must myself dissect my tattered state,
Which 'mazed Christendom stands wond'ring at?
And thou a child, a limb, and dost not feel
My fainting weak'ned 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, doth 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.

New England

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 or force usurped thy flow'ring crown,
Or by tempestous wars thy fields trod down?
Or hath Canutus, that brave valiant Dane,
The regal, peaceful scepter 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 deposed? or is't the hour
That second Richard must be clapt in th' tower?
Or is't 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 you fear Spain's bragging Armado?
Doth your ally, fair France, conspire your wrack,
Or do the Scots play false behind your back?
Doth Holland quit you ill for all your love?
Whence is the storm from earth or heaven above?
Is't drought, is't famine, or is't pestilence?
Doth feel the smart, or fear the consequence?
Your humble child entreats you, show 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.

Old England

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 know'st) elsewhere.
Nor is it Alcie's son, nor Henry's daughter,
Whose proud contention cause this slaughter,
Nor nobles siding to make John no king,
French Lewis unjustly to the crown to bring;
No Edward, Richard, to lose rule and life,
Nor no Lancastrians to renew old strife;
No Duke of York, nor Earl of March to soil
Their hands in kindred's blood whom they did foil;
No crafty tyrant now usurps the seat,
Who nephews slew that so he might be great;
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 oft my fury she hath drunk
By Edward Third and Henry Fifth of fame,
Her lilies in mine 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 punishment ordained on high,
Unless our tears prevent it speedily.
But yet I answer not what you demand,
To show the grievance of my troubled land.
Before I tell th' effect, I'll show the cause
Which are my sins, the breach of sacred laws.
Idolatry, supplanter of a nation,
With foolish superstitious adoration,
Are liked and countenanced by men of might,
The Gospel trodden down and hath no right;
Church offices were sold and bought for gain,
That Pope had hope to find Rome here again.
For oaths and blasphemies, did ever ear
From Belzebub 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, wert jeered among the rest,
Thy flying for the truth was made a jest.
For Sabbath-breaking and for drunkenness,
Did ever land profaneness more express?
From crying blood 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 by great ones done
Oh, Edward's youths, and Clarence hapless son,
O Jane, why didst thou die in flow'ring prime?
Because of royal stem, that was thy crime.
For bribery, adultery, 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 flowed the source, the springs, the boughs and fruits
Of more than thou canst hear or I relate,
That with high hand I still did perpetrate,
For these were threatened the woeful day
I mocked the preachers, put it far away;
The sermons yet upon record do stand
That cried destruction to my wicked land;
I then believed not, now I feel and see,
The plague of stubborn incredulity.
Some lost their livings, some in prison pent,
Some fined, from house and friends to exile went.
Their silent tongues to heaven did vengeance cry,
Who saw their wrongs and hath judged righteously
And will repay it sevenfold in my lap:
This is forerunner of my afterclap.
Nor took I warning by my neighbour's falls.
I saw sad Germany's dismantled walls,
I saw her people famished, nobles slain,
Her fruitful land, a barren heath remain.
I saw, unmoved, her armies foiled and fled,
Wives forced, babes tossed, her houses calcined.
I saw strong Rochelle yielded to her foe,
Thousands of starved Christians there also.
I saw poor Ireland bleeding out her last,
Such cruelties 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.

New England

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 hearts for your relief.

Old England

Well to the matter then, there's grown of late
'Twixt king and peers a question of state,
Which is the chief, the law, or else the king.
One said, "It's he," the other no such thing.
'Tis said, my better part in Parliament
To ease my groaning land, showed their intent,
To crush the proud, and right to each man deal,
To help the Church and stay the commonweal.
So many obstacles came in their way,
As puts me to a stand what I should say;
Old customs, new prerogatives stood on,
Had they not held law fast, all had been gone,
Which by their prudence stood them in such stead
They took high Strafford lower by the head.
And to their Laud be't spoke, they held i'th' tower
All England's metropolitan that hour;
This done, an act they would have passed fain,
No prelate should his bishopric retain;
Here tugged they hard, indeed, for all men saw
This must be done by Gospel, not by law.
Next the militia they urged sore,
This was denied (I need not say wherefore).
The King, displeased, at York himself absents,
They humbly beg return, show their intents;
The writing, printing, posting to and fro,
Shows all was done, I'll therefore let it go.
But now I come to speak of my disaster,
Contention grown, 'twixt subjects and their master;
They worded it so long, they fell to blows,
That thousands lay on heaps, here bleeds my woes,
I that no wars so many years have known,
Am now destroyed and slaught'red by mine own;
But could the field alone this strife decide,
One battle two or three I might abide,
But these may be beginnings of more woe.
Who knows, but this may be my overthrow.
Oh pity me in this sad perturbation,
My plundred towns, my houses' devastation,
My weeping virgins and my young men slain;
My wealthy trading fall'n, my dearth of grain,
The seedtime's come, but ploughman hath no hope
Because he knows not who shall in his crop.
The poor they want their pay, their children bread,
Their woeful mothers' tears unpitied.
If any pity in thy heart remain,
Or any childlike love thou dost retain,
For my relief, do what there lies in thee,
And recompense that good I've done to thee.

New England

Dear Mother, cease complaints and wipe your eyes,
Shake off your dust, cheer up, and now arise;
You are my mother nurse, and I your flesh,
Your sunken bowels gladly would refresh;
Your griefs I pity, but soon hope to see,
Out of your troubles much good fruit to be,
To see those latter days of hoped for good,
Though now beclouded all with tears and blood.
After dark Popery the day did clear,
But now the sun in's brightness shall appear.
Blest be the nobles of thy noble land,
With ventured lives for truth's defence that stand.
Blest be thy commons, who for common good,
And thy infringed laws have boldly stood.
Blest be thy counties, who did aid thee still,
With hearts and states to testify their will.
Blest be thy preachers, who do cheer thee on,
O cry, "the sword of God and Gideon";
And shall I not on them wish Mero's curse,
That help thee not with prayers, arms, and purse?
And for myself let miseries abound,
If mindless of thy state I e'er be found.
These are the days the Church's foes to crush,
To root out Popelings head, tail, branch, and rush;
Let's bring Baal's vestments forth to make a fire,
Their miters, surplices, and all their tire,
Copes, rochets, crosiers, and such empty trash,
And let their names consume, but let the flash
Light Christendom, and all the world to see
We hate Rome's whore with all her trumpery.
Go on brave Essex with a loyal heart,
Not false to king, nor to the better part;
But those that hurt his people and his crown,
As duty binds, expell and tread them down.
And ye brave nobles chase away all fear,
And to this hopeful cause closely adhere;
O Mother, can you weep, and have such peers?
When they are gone, then drown yourself in tears.
If now you weep so much, that then no more
The briny ocean will o'erflow your shore.
These, these are they I trust, with Charles our King,
Out of all mists such glorious days shall bring;
That dazzled eyes beholding much shall wonder
At that thy settled peace, thy wealth and splendor.
Thy Church and weal established in such manner,
That all shall joy, that thou displayed'st thy banner;
And discipline erected so I trust,
That nursing kings shall come and lick thy dust.
Then justice shall in all thy courts take place,
Without respect of person or of case;
Then bribes shall cease, and suits shall not stick long,
Patience and purse of clients oft to wrong.
Then high commissions shall fall to decay,
And pursuivants and catchpoles want their pay.
So shall thy happy nation ever flourish,
When truth and righteousness they thus shall nourish,
When thus in peace, thine armies brave send out
To sack proud Rome and all her vassals rout;
There let thy name, thy fame, and glory shine,
As did thine ancestors' in Palestine;
And let her spoils full pay with interest be,
Of what unjustly once she polled from thee.
Of all the woes thou canst let her be sped,
And on her pour the vengeance threat'ned;
Bring forth the beast that ruled the world with's beck,
And tear his flesh and set your feet on's neck;
And make his filthy den so desolate,
To th' 'stonishment of all that knew his state.
This done, with brandished swords to Turkey go,
For then what is't but English blades dare do,
And lay her waste for so's the sacred doom,
And do to Gog as thou hast done to Rome.
Oh Abraham's seed, lift up your heads on high,
For sure the day of your redemption's nigh;
The scales shall fall from your long blinded eyes,
And Him you shall adore who now despise.
Then fullness of the nations in shall flow,
And Jew and Gentile to one worship go;
Then follows days of happiness and rest;
Whose lot doth fall to live therein is blest:
No Canaanite shall then be found i' th' land,
And holiness on horses' bells shall stand.
If this make way thereto, then sigh no more,
But if at all, thou didst not see't before;
Farewell, dear Mother, rightest cause prevail,
And in a while, you'll tell another tale.





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