Poetry For Choice – 17th Century Edition

Posted in Poetry on March 3rd, 2011
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Last month Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote this moving post about why he is pro-choice in the wake of the Republican party’s war on women. In the comments, SWNC posted an Anne Bradstreet poem. It is relevant to the fight to save reproductive rights in America today. Although New York City just passed a bill regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Republicans nationally are closing in on not only abortion rights but access to contraception as well. We should remember how treacherous childbirth once was in the United States, and still is in other parts of the world.

Before the Birth of One of Her Children
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.