“To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 1672)


To My Dear and Loving Husband

BY ANNE BRADSTREET

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;	
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.

“Before the Birth of One of her Children” by Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 1672)


Before the Birth of One of Her Children

By ANNE BRADSTREET

All things within this fading world hath end,
Adversity doth still our joys attend;
No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet,
But with death’s parting blow are sure to meet.
The sentence past is most irrevocable,
A common thing, yet oh, inevitable.
How soon, my Dear, death may my steps attend,
How soon’t may be thy lot to lose thy friend,
We both are ignorant, yet love bids me
These farewell lines to recommend to thee,
That when the knot’s untied that made us one,
I may seem thine, who in effect am none.
And if I see not half my days that’s due,
What nature would, God grant to yours and you;
The many faults that well you know I have
Let be interred in my oblivious grave;
If any worth or virtue were in me,
Let that live freshly in thy memory
And when thou feel’st no grief, as I no harmes,
Yet love thy dead, who long lay in thine arms,
And when thy loss shall be repaid with gains
Look to my little babes, my dear remains.
And if thou love thyself, or loved’st me,
These O protect from stepdame’s injury.
And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this verse,
With some sad sighs honor my absent hearse;
And kiss this paper for thy dear love’s sake, 
Who with salt tears this last farewell did take.

“First Fig” by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1982 – 1950)


“First Fig”

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

“The Blue-Flag in the Bog” by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950)


“The Blue-Flag in the Bog”

BY Edna St. Vincent Millay

GOD had called us, and we came;
Our loved Earth to ashes left;
Heaven was a neighbor’s house,
Open flung to us, bereft.

Gay the lights of Heaven showed,
And ’twas God who walked ahead;
Yet I wept along the road,
Wanting my own house instead.

Wept unseen, unheeded cried,
“All you things my eyes have kissed,
Fare you well! We meet no more,
Lovely, lovely tattered mist!

Weary wings that rise and fall
All day long above the fire !”
Red with heat was every wall,
Rough with heat was every wire

“Fare you well, you little winds
That the flying embers chase!
Fare you well, you shuddering day,
With your hands before your face!

And, ah, blackened by strange blight,
Or to a false sun unfurled,
Now forevermore goodbye,
All the gardens in the world!

On the windless hills of Heaven,
That I have no wish to see,

White, eternal lilies stand,
By a lake of ebony.

But the Earth forevermore
Is a place where nothing grows,
Dawn will come, and no bud break;
Evening, and no blossom close.

Spring will come, and wander slow
Over an indifferent land,
Stand beside an empty creek,
Hold a dead seed in her hand.”

God had called us, and we came,
But the blessed road I trod
Was a bitter road to me,
And at heart I questioned God.

“Though in Heaven,” I said, “be all
That the heart would most desire,
Held Earth naught save souls of sinners
Worth the saving from a fire?

Withered grass,the wasted growing!
Aimless ache of laden boughs!”
Little things God had forgotten
Called me, from my burning house.

“Though in Heaven,” I said, “be all
That the eye could ask to see,
All the things I ever knew
Are this blaze in back of me.”

“Though in Heaven,” I said, “be all
That the ear could think to lack,

All the things I ever knew
Are this roaring at my back.”

It was God who walked ahead,
Like a shepherd to the fold;
In his footsteps fared the weak,
And the weary and the old,

Glad enough of gladness over,
Ready for the peace to be,
But a thing God had forgotten
Was the growing bones of me.

And I drew a bit apart,
And I lagged a bit behind,
And I thought on Peace Eternal,
Lest He look into my mind;

And I gazed upon the sky,
And I thought of Heavenly Rest,
And I slipped away like water
Through the fingers of the blest !

All their eyes were fixed on Glory,
Not a glance brushed over me;
“Alleluia ! Alleluia !”
Up the road,and I was free.

And my heart rose like a freshet,
And it swept me on before,
Giddy as a whirling stick,
Till I felt the earth once more.

All the Earth was charred and black,
Fire had swept from pole to pole;

And the bottom of the sea
Was as brittle as a bowl;

And the timbered mountain-top
Was as naked as a skull,
Nothing left, nothing left,
Of the Earth so beautiful!

“Earth,” I said, “how can I leave you?”
“You are all I have,” I said;
“What is left to take my mind up,
Living always, and you dead?”

“Speak!” I said, “Oh, tell me something!
Make a sign that I can see!
For a keepsake! To keep always!
Quick!before God misses me!”

And I listened for a voice;
But my heart was all I heard;
Not a screech-owl, not a loon,
Not a tree-toad said a word.

And I waited for a sign;
Coals and cinders, nothing more;
And a little cloud of smoke
Floating on a valley floor.

And I peered into the smoke
Till it rotted, like a fog:
There, encompassed round by fire,
Stood a blue-flag in a bog!

Little flames came wading out,
Straining, straining towards its stem,

But it was so blue and tall
That it scorned to think of them!

Red and thirsty were their tongues,
As the tongues of wolves must be,
But it was so blue and tall
Oh, I laughed, I cried, to see!

All my heart became a tear,
All my soul became a tower,
Never loved I anything
As I loved that tall blue flower!

It was all the little boats
That had ever sailed the sea,
It was all the little books
That had gone to school with me;

On its roots like iron claws
Rearing up so blue and tall,
It was all the gallant Earth
With its back against a wall!

In a breath, ere I had breathed,
Oh, I laughed, I cried, to see !
I was kneeling at its side,
And it leaned its head on me !

Crumbling stones and sliding sand
Is the road to Heaven now;
Icy at my straining knees
Drags the awful under-tow;

Soon but stepping-stones of dust
Will the road to Heaven be,

Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
Reach a hand and rescue me!

“Therethere, my blue-flag flower;
Hushhushgo to sleep;
That is only God you hear,
Counting up His folded sheep!

Lullabyelullabye
That is only God that calls,
Missing me, seeking me,
Ere the road to nothing falls!

He will set His mighty feet
Firmly on the sliding sand;
Like a little frightened bird
I will creep into His hand;

I will tell Him all my grief,
I will tell Him all my sin;
He will give me half His robe
For a cloak to wrap you in.

Lullabyelullabye
Rocks the burnt-out planet free!
Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
Reach a hand and rescue me !

Ah, the voice of love at last !
Lo, at last the face of light !
And the whole of His white robe
For a cloak against the night!

And upon my heart asleep
All the things I ever knew!

“Holds Heaven not some cranny, Lord,
For a flower so tall and blue?”

All’s well and all’s well!
Gay the lights of Heaven show!
In some moist and Heavenly place
We will set it out to grow.

 

From: “The Blue-Flag in the Bog” by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
From Millay, Edna St. Vincent. Second April   New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1921. pp. 4-16.

“Dead Fires” by Jessie Redmon Fauset (1882 – 1961)


“Dead Fires”

If this is peace, this dead and leaden thing,
     Then better far the hateful fret, the sting.
Better the wound forever seeking balm
     Than this gray calm!

Is this pain’s surcease? Better far the ache,
     The long-drawn dreary day, the night’s white wake,
Better the choking sigh, the sobbing breath
     Than passion’s death!

“Oriflamme” by Jessie Redmon Fauset (1882 – 1961)


“Oriflamme”

By JESSIE REDMON FAUSET

“I can remember when I was a little, young girl, 
how my old mammy would sit out of doors in the 
evenings and look up at the stars and groan, 
and I would say, ‘Mammy, what makes you groan so?’ 
And she would say, ‘I am groaning to think of my 
poor children; they do not know where I be 
and I don’t know where they be. I look up at 
the stars and they look up at the stars!’” 
—Sojourner Truth.
 
 
I think I see her sitting bowed and black,	
   Stricken and seared with slavery’s mortal scars,	
Reft of her children, lonely, anguished, yet	
   Still looking at the stars.	
 
Symbolic mother, we thy myriad sons,	       
   Pounding our stubborn hearts on Freedom’s bars,	
Clutching our birthright, fight with faces set,	
   Still visioning the stars!

Women’s History Month Begins Today


March 1st marks the beginning of Women’s History Month! Each day this month, GoodPoetry will celebrate the works of women poets from the past, and women poets of today! Be sure to like, comment and share the content you enjoy this month at @GoodPoetry. And, if you have any suggestions for women poets and their works which you’d like us to feature this month be sure to let us know in the comments section.

To learn more about Women’s History Month, visit the following content:

 

Women’s History Month lasts from Thursday, March 1st until Saturday, March 31st.