"The Vanity of All Worldly Things"
By Anne Bradstreet

Transcription, correction, editorial commentary, and markup by Staff and Research Assistants at The University of Virginia, John O'Brien, Sara Brunstetter
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Sources

Boston : John Foster, 1678 Our texts are taken from the Text Creation Partnership's digital edition of Several poems compiled with great variety of wit and learning published in Boston in 1678. This text is sometimes referred to by its alternate title, and the sobriquet given to Anne Bradstreet, "The Tenth Muse". Title page drawn from the University of Pennsylvania's Celebration of Women Writers.

Editorial Statements

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Original spelling and capitalization is retained, though the long s has been silently modernized and ligatured forms are not encoded.

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Citation

Bradstreet, Anne. "The Vanity of All Worldy Things". Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, John Foster, 1678 . Literature in Context: An Open Anthology. http://anthology.lib.virginia.edu/work/Bradstreet/bradstreet-vanity. Accessed: 2024-03-01T14:40:11.339Z

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[TP] SEVERAL
POEMS
Compiled with great variety of Wit and
Learning, full of Delight;
Wherein especially is contained a compleat
Discourse, and Description of
The Four { ELEMENTS
CONSTITUTIONS,
AGES of Man,
SEASONS of the Year.

Together with an exact Epitome of
the three first Monarchyes

Viz, The { ASSYRIAN,
PERSIAN,
GRECIAN.
And beginning of the Romane Common-wealth
to the end of their last King:
With diverse other pleasant & serious Poems,
By a Gentlewoman in New-England.
The second Edition, Corrected by the Author,
and enlarged by an Addition of several other
Poems found amongst her Papers
after her Death.

Boston, Printed by John Foster, 1678.
233 The Vanity of All Wordly Things 1As he said vanity, so vain say I 2O vanity, O vain all under skie, 3Where is the man can say, lo, I have found 4On brittle earth, a consolation sound? 5What is't in honour, to be set on high? 6No, they like beasts, and sonnes of men shall die, 7And whilst they live, how oft doth turn their State? 8He's now a slave, that was a Prince of late. 9What is't in wealth, great treasures for to gain? 10No, that's but labour anxious, care and pain. 11He heaps up riches, and he heaps us sorrow, 12Its his to day, but who's his heire to morrow? 13What then? content in pleasures canst thou find? 14More vain then all, that's but to grasp the wind 15The sensuall senses for a time they please, 16Mean while the conscience rage, who shall appease? 234 17What is't in beauty? no, that's but a snare, 18They'r foul enough to day, that once was fair, 19What, Is't in flowring youth, or manly age? 20The first is prone to vice, the last to rage. 21Where is it then? in wisdome, learning, arts? 22Sure if on earth, it must be in those parts; 23Yet these, the wisest man of men did find, 24But vanity, vexation of the mind, 25And he that knows the most doth still bemoan, 26He knows not all, there there is to be known, 27What is it then? to do as Stoicks tell, 28Nor laugh, nor weep, let things go ill or well: 29Such stoicks are but stocks, such teaching vain: 30While man is man, he shall have ease or pain. 31If not in honour, beauty, age, nor treasure, 32Nor yet in learning, wisdome, youth nor pleasure, 33Where shall I cimbe, sound, seek, search or find, 34That summum BonumsummumsummumThis phrase, coined by Cicero, means "the highest good." Source: Oxford English Dictionarywhich may stay my mind? 35There is a path, no vultures eye hath seen. 36Where lions fierce, nor lions whelps hath been, 37Which leads unto that living Christall fount, 38Who drinks thereof, the world doth naught account. 39The depth, and sea, hath said its not in me, 40With pearl and gold it shall not valued be: 41For Saphyre, Onix,Topas, who will change, 42Its hid fro meyes of men, they count it strange, 43Death and destruction, the fame hath heard, 44But where, and what it is, from heaven's declar'd 45It brings to honour, which shall not decay, 46It steeres with wealth, which time cann't wear away. 235 47It yeeldeth pleasures, farre beyond conceit, 48And truly beautifies without deceit. 49Nor strength nor widsome, nor fresh youth shall fade, 50Nor death shall see, but are immortal made, 51This pearl of price, this tree of life, this spring, 52Who is possessed of, shall reign a King, 53Nor change of state, nor cares shall ever see, 54But wear his Crown unto eternitie 55This satiates the soul, this stayes the mind, 56The rest's but vanity, and vain we find.

Footnotes