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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Consolatory Poem

By Nicholas Noyes (1647–1717)

[Dedicated unto Mr. Cotton Mather, soon after the Decease of his Excellent and Vertuous Wife, Mrs. Abigail Mather. 1703.]

SIR, after you have wip’d the eyes

Of thousands in their miseries,

And oft condoled the heavy Fates

Of those that have surviv’d their mates,

It’s come at length to your own turn

To be one half within an Urn.

(Your Christ would have it so be done!)

Your other self’s torn off and gone.

Gone! said I. Yes, and that’s the worst:

Your Wife’s but gone to Heaven first.

You do run fast but she out run,

Hath made herself, not you, undone;

Pray let her wear what she hath won!

Grudge not her happiness above;

You live by Faith, and she by Love.

To live is Christ, to die is gain;

Betwixt you both you have the twain.

She was prepar’d for her release;

And so prepar’d departs in peace.

And who would live that God makes fit

To die, and then gives a permit?

And who would choose a world of fears,

Ready to fall about their ears,

That might get up above the spheres,

And leave the region of dread thunder

To them that love the world that’s under;

Where canker’d breasts with envy broil,

And smooth tongues are but dipt in oil;

And Cain’s club only doth lie by

For want of opportunity.

Yea, who would live among catarrhs,

Contagions, pains, and strifes, and wars,

That might go up above the stars;

And live in health, and peace, and bliss,

Had in that world, but wish’d in this?

Disturb not then her precious dust

With Threnodies that are unjust.

Let not cross’d Nature now repine.

Sir, Grace hath taught you to resign

To Christ, what Nature called, Mine!

To call for mourners I came not;

There are too many on the spot,

Already all the neighborhood

Have wept as much as weeping’s good;

Nor to embalm her Memory;

She did that ere she came to die,

’Tis done to long Eternity!

This phœnix built her nest of spice,

Like to the Birds of Paradise;

Which, when a fever set on fire,

Her soul took wing and soared higher;

But left choice ashes here behind,

Christ will for resurrection find.

My Muse, pass by her Out Side Grace;

Say nothing of a comely face

Nor what most lovely pleasancies

Dwelt chastely on her charming eyes.

These, and such Lilly-Glories fade,

Absconded all in Death’s dark shade.

Yet these again shall rise and shine

Ten thousand times more bright and fine.

Say little of her Inside Grace;

For this world is a spiteful place,

And takes itself for injured,

If saints are prais’d, alive or dead;

And they for wits are in esteem,

That Heaven’s Dwellers do blaspheme.

I hate their humor, I profess,

It smells of such rank wickedness.

Yet this saint shall not go her ways,

Without a sprig or two of bays;

Who well deserv’d far greater praise.

Her maiden virtues render’d her

A meet help for a Minister.

For the best Women, the just Jews

(You know) this proper phrase would use:

“A Woman worthy for to be

Wife to a Priest;” and such was she.

Good; studying that her husband too

Nothing but good might always do.

How frugal, yet how generous!

How modest, yet how courteous!

How silent, yet how affable!

How wise, how pure, how peaceable!

As child, her parents’ joy; as wife,

Her husband’s crown, and heart, and life.

As mother she, a fruitful vine,

Her offspring of an holy line,

By holy nurture made them shine.

More might be said; but lest I vex

And stir the envy of her sex,

I’ll not proceed in commendation,

But leave her to their limitation;

Who having her bright virtue kept

In lustre; thus at length she slept.

A sickness full of mysteries,

With violence did on her seize.

She thirty weeks felt Death’s attack,

But fervent pray’r still kept her back.

Her Faith and Patience ’twas to try,

And learn us how to live and die.

At last all thoughts of life were null’d;

For Earth by Heaven was out-pull’d,

And she straight-way must thither go,

Whether her good friends would or no.

So with the Wings of Faith and Love,

And Feathers of an Holy Dove,

She bid this wretched world adieu,

And swiftly up to Heaven flew.

Yet as she flew let this word fall,

“Heav’n, Heav’n will make amends for all.”