Enemies by Mary Astell

I Love you whom the World calls Enemies,
You are my Vertues exercise,
The usefull Furnace to refine
My dross, the Oil that maks my Armour shine.

Nay you’re the best of men because you are
The Truest Friends, tho this appear
A Paradox to them who seem,
The only men of Wit & of esteem;

Who measure Friendship by the Rule of Pow’er,
And love him best who has most store;
Who prostitute that sacred Name,
Unto the part’ners of their sin and shame.

Yet if the merits of a Friend be weigh’d,
His worth in a just balance laid,
Light Flattery will blow away,
And just reproof will the rest out-weigh.

But a Friend’s loving eyes are sometimes blind,
And will not any blemish find,
Or if a secret ulcer they espie,
They’l sooner Balsom than sharp Wine apply.

Kind Monitors you tell me of my faults,
Your spurs correct & mend my  halts,
With cleansing Physick purge my mind,
That no crude humours may remain behind.

Meekness wou’d lose her vast inheritance
If you were not the evidence;
You bring to light our Charitie,
Without you we shou’d but half Christians be.

Best Benefactors! let Earth’s Children pray
For those who give them loads of Clay,
Who puff their bubbles, I’le for you
Implore, & think it God-like so to do.

From: Millman, Jill Seal and Wright, Gillian (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Manuscript Poetry, 2005, Manchester University Press: Manchester, pp. 187-188.

Date: 1683

By: Mary Astell (1666-1731)

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