The security of the world before Christ’s coming to judgment.
Still was the night, serene and bright,
when all Men sleeping lay;
Calm was the season, and carnal reason
thought so ’twould last for aye.
“Soul, take thine ease, let sorrow cease;
much good thou hast in store:“
This was their Song, their Cups among,
the evening before.
Wallowing in all kind of Sin,
vile Wretches lay secure;
The best of men had scarcely then
their Lamps kept in good ure.
Virgins unwise, who through disguise
amongst the best were number’d,
Had clos’d their eyes; yea, and the Wise
through sloth and frailty slumber’d.
Like as of old, when men grew bold,
God’s threat’nings to contemn.
Who stopt their Ear, and would not hear
when Mercy warnéd them,
But took their course, without remorse,
till God began to pour
Destructi-on the World upon,
in a tempestuous show’r;
Who put away the evil day,
and drown’d their cares and fears,
Till drown’d were they, and swept away
by vengeance unawares;
So at the last, whilst men sleep fast
in their security,
Surpris’d they are in such a snare
As Cometh suddenly.
The Day of Doom, a quintessentially Puritan poem of over 200 eight-line stanzas vividly describing Judgment Day and the torments awaiting sinners in Hell, was the first book of poetry printed in the American Colonies and the first American bestseller. Its author, Michael Wigglesworth, graduated from Harvard in 1651 and served the town of Malden, Mass., as minister and physician. The day of doom is the foundation of any collection of early American literature, yet it is also one of the legendary rarities of early American printing. Only one fragmentary copy survives of the first edition, printed in Cambridge, Mass., ca. 1662, and only four fragmentary copies of the second edition of 1666.
I will be posting this edifying New England poem here at ConnectHook soon.
I discovered it in this excellent anthology I purchased recently:
You posed yourselves (in radical English)
with fellow-travelers on the barricades.
recalling bygone barrio fusillades
though you speak only red diaper Spanish…
Beholding the party cooperative
where gringo tourists are shown Cuban truth,
you cherished the lies of your leftist youth,
half-informed, predictably progressive.
Stuffed full of radicalized rice and beans,
flatulent, dreaming of ignoble Che
you charmed the sultry proletarian queens.
In your new Guayabera, bonafide,
you hailed the revolutionary day;
pale thorn in the suffering People’s side…