Homage to Mistress Bradstreet (1956)

Poems 1-37

The Governor your husband lived so long
moved you not, restless, waiting for him? Still,
you were a patient woman -
I seem to see you pause here still:
Sylvester, Quarles, in moments odd you pored
before a fire at, bright eyes on the Lord,
all the children still.
"Simon..." Simon  will listen while you read a Song.

Outside the New World winters in grand dark
white air lashing high thro' the virgin stands
foxes down foxholes sigh,
surely the English heart quails, stunned.
I doubt if Simon than this blast, that sea,
spares from his rigour for your poetry
more. We are on each other's hands
who care. Both of our worlds unhanded us. Lie stark,

thy eyes look to me mild. Out of maize & air
your body's made, and moves. I summon, see,
from the centuries it.
I think you won't stay. How do we
linger, diminished, in our lover's air,
implausibly, visible, to whom, a year,
years, over interims; or not;
to a long stranger; or not; shimmer and disappear.

Jaw-ript, rot with its wisdom, rending then;
Then not. When the mouth dies, who misses you?
Your master never died,
Simon at thirty years past you -
pockmarkt & westward staring on a haggard deck
it seems I find you, young. I come to check,
I come to stay with you,
and the Governor, & Father, & Simon, & the huddled men.


-    I cannot feel myself God waits. He flies
nearer a kindly world; or he is flown.
One Saturday's rescue
won't show. Man is entirely alone
may be. I am a man of griefs & fits
trying to be my friend. And the brown smock splits,
down the pale flesh a gash
broadens and Time holds up your heart against my eyes.

- Hard and divided heaven! creases me. Shame
is failing. My breath is scented, and I throw
hostile glances towards God.
Crumpling plunge of a pestle, bray:
sin cross & opposite, wherein I survive
nightmares of Eden. Reaches foul & live
he for me, this soul
to crunch, a minute tangle of eternal flame.

I fear Hell's hammer-wind. But fear does wane.
Death's blossoms grain my hair; I cannot live.
A black joy clashes
joy, in twilight. The Devil said
"I will deal toward her softly, and her enchanting cries
will fool the horns of Adam." Father of lies,
a male great pestle smashes   
small women swarming towards the mortar's rim in vain.

Homage to Mistress Bradstreet (1956)