‘If Two Be One’
Anne Bradstreet arrived in Massachusetts in 1630, at age 18, having married Simon Bradstreet just a couple of years earlier in England. With him, she raised a large family in Boston. During her rare moments of leisure, she wrote poetry, which was eventually published with one of those longish 17th-century titles that begins, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up from America . . . . Her poetry shows, as one author put it, “that the female Puritan . . . could be both a Puritan and a woman of great charm.”
A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Public Employment
My head, my heart, mine eyes, my life—nay more,
My joy, my magazine of earthly store:
If two be one, as surely thou and I,
How stayest thou there, whilst I at Ipswich lie?
So many steps head from the heart to sever,
If but a neck, soon should we be together.
I like the earth this season mourn in black;
My sun is gone so far in’s Zodiac,
Whom whilst I ’joyed, nor storms nor frosts I felt,
His warmth such frigid colds did cause to melt.
My chilled limbs now numbed lie forlorn:
Return, return, sweet sol, from Capricorn.
In this dead time, alas, what can I more
Than view those fruits which through thy heat I bore?
Which sweet contentment yields me for a space
True living pictures of their father’s face.
O strange effect! Now thou art southward gone,
I weary grow, the tedious day so long:
But when thou northward to me shalt return,
I wish my sun may never set, but burn
Within the Cancer of my glowing breast,
The welcome house of him, my dearest guest.
Where ever, ever, stay, and go not thence
Till nature’s sad decree shall call thee hence:
Flesh of thy flesh, bone of thy bone,
I here, thou there, yet both but one.
- Editors’ Note
- Deadly, Healing Medicine
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