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[155] passages from Du Bartas she condenses, expands, or merely paraphrases. She gives only about 1800 lines to the entire exposition of her elements, humours, ages, and seasons; hence she uses but a small part of the encyclopedic material of the French poem. The feeble New England imitation cannot compare with the original. Du Bartas, though often flat and prosaic, is immense in his range, and is at times even a poet; Anne Bradstreet's range is narrow; her allusions are merely to the best known historical and mythological characters; her descriptions of natural phenomena, though she might be expected to find original inspiration in her New England environment, are vague and conventional. In occasional lines of Sylvester's translation occurs something of Elizabethan spaciousness; the only meritorious lines of Anne Bradstreet's poem occur in the Spring;
The fearfull bird his little house now builds
In trees and walls, in Cities and in fields.
The outside strong, the inside warm and neat,
A natural Artificer compleat.

The verse of all her longer poems is precisely that of Sylvestera couplet, not quite loose, but less compact than the heroic couplet, with the characteristic Elizabethan freedom in rhyme and with the shifting caesura. It is not, however, in these long, dreary, and purely didactic poems that Anne Bradstreet shows her real capacity. When she walks in happier paths, with a song in her heart, remembering Spenser and Giles Fletcher, she shows that perhaps in more fortunate times she might have written poetry. Her Contemplations is a meditative and descriptive poem in thirty-three seven-line stanzas, in which occur passages at least pleasing in suggestion and rhythm, however reminiscent of greater times and talents:
When I behold the heavens as in their prime,
And then the earth (though old) stil clad in green,
The stones and trees, insensible to time,
Nor age nor wrinkle on their front are seen;
If winter come, and greeness then do fade,
A Spring returns, and they more youthfull made;
But Man grows old, lies down, remains where once he's laid.

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