The Flesh and the Spirit by Anne Bradstreet
In this poem, Bradstreet attempts to convey spiritualism and materialism through different personas. "Flesh" symbolizes materialism while spirit symbolizes what she refers to as "the hidden manna".
When reviewing "The Flesh and the Spirit", it's important to keep in mind religious aspects. For example, "flesh" is what Jesus gave his disciples. "Manna" is what God gave the Israelites when they were crossing the dessert. When reading the part of the Spirit, keep in mind what God told the Israelites, that you can't bring wealth to heaven and there are many sins, but he is a forgiving God. With this, it can almost be read as if Jesus and Moses were having a conversation. Jesus wouldn't be talking from his own thoughts, but from the thoughts of the Jews during his time on Earth.
The Flesh and the Spirit In secret place where once I stood Close by the Banks of Lacrim flood, I heard two sisters reason on Things that are past and things to come. One Flesh was call'd, who had her eye On worldly wealth and vanity; The other Spirit, who did rear Her thoughts unto a higher sphere. 'Sister,' quoth Flesh, 'what liv'st thou on Nothing but Meditation? Doth Contemplation feed thee so Regardlessly to let earth go? Can Speculation satisfy Notion without Reality? Dost dream of things beyond the Moon And dost thou hope to dwell there soon? Hast treasures there laid up in store That all in th' world thou count'st but poor? Art fancy-sick or turn'd a Sot To catch at shadows which are not? Come, come. I'll show unto thy sense, Industry hath its recompence. What canst desire, but thou maist see True substance in variety? Dost honour like? Acquire the same, As some to their immortal fame; And trophies to thy name erect Which wearing time shall ne'er deject. For riches dost thou long full sore? Behold enough of precious store. Earth hath more silver, pearls, and gold Than eyes can see or hands can hold. Affects thou pleasure? Take thy fill. Earth hath enough of what you will. Then let not go what thou maist find For things unknown only in mind.' Spirit. 'Be still, thou unregenerate part, Disturb no more my settled heart, For I have vow'd (and so will do) Thee as a foe still to pursue, And combat with thee will and must Until I see thee laid in th' dust. Sister we are, yea twins we be, Yet deadly feud 'twixt thee and me, For from one father are we not. Thou by old Adam wast begot, But my arise is from above, Whence my dear father I do love. Thou speak'st me fair but hat'st me sore. Thy flatt'ring shews I'll trust no more. How oft thy slave hast thou me made When I believ'd what thou hast said And never had more cause of woe Than when I did what thou bad'st do. I'll stop mine ears at these thy charms And count them for my deadly harms. Thy sinful pleasures I do hate, Thy riches are to me no bait. Thine honours do, nor will I love, For my ambition lies above. My greatest honour it shall be When I am victor over thee, And Triumph shall, with laurel head, When thou my Captive shalt be led. How I do live, thou need'st not scoff, For I have meat thou know'st not of. The hidden Manna I do eat; The word of life, it is my meat. My thoughts do yield me more content Than can thy hours in pleasure spent. Nor are they shadows which I catch, Nor fancies vain at which I snatch But reach at things that are so high, Beyond thy dull Capacity. Eternal substance I do see With which inriched I would be. Mine eye doth pierce the heav'ns and see What is Invisible to thee. My garments are not silk nor gold, Nor such like trash which Earth doth hold, But Royal Robes I shall have on, More glorious than the glist'ring Sun. My Crown not Diamonds, Pearls, and gold, But such as Angels' heads infold. The City where I hope to dwell, There's none on Earth can parallel. The stately Walls both high and trong Are made of precious Jasper stone, The Gates of Pearl, both rich and clear, And Angels are for Porters there. The Streets thereof transparent gold Such as no Eye did e're behold. A Crystal River there doth run Which doth proceed from the Lamb's Throne. Of Life, there are the waters sure Which shall remain forever pure. Nor Sun nor Moon they have no need For glory doth from God proceed. No Candle there, nor yet Torch light, For there shall be no darksome night. From sickness and infirmity Forevermore they shall be free. Nor withering age shall e're come there, But beauty shall be bright and clear. This City pure is not for thee, For things unclean there shall not be. If I of Heav'n may have my fill, Take thou the world, and all that will.' Published in 1678.
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