"The Flesh and the Spirit" by Anne Bradstreet is basically a conversation between two "sisters"--the worldly body and the spiritual soul. Their heated argument concerns the value of life and what really matters in our human lives. The Flesh, who presents her side first, argues that the world offers pleasure, wealth, and fame to those who readily partake. Satisfaction for her is found in the reality of earthly possessions and the fulfillment of her desires. The Spirit, on the other hand, finds her true satisfaction in God and stores up eternal treasures in Heaven. Their sisterhood is an ongoing battle that ends in ultimate separation.
The following is an excerpt from the whole poem in which the Spirit develops her case.
The Flesh and the Spirit
By Anne Bradstreet
Be still, thou unregenerate part,
Disturb no more my settled heart,
For I have vow'd (and so will do)
Thee as a foe still to pursue,
And combat with thee will and must
Until I see thee laid in th' dust.
Sister we are, yea twins we be,
Yet deadly feud 'twist thee and me,
For from one father are we not.
Thou by old Adam wast begot,
But my arise is from above,
Whence my dear father I do love.
Thou speak'st me fair but hat'st me sore.
Thy flatt'ring shews I'll trust no more.
How oft thy slave hast thou me made
When I believ'd what thou hast said
And never had more cause of woe
Than when I did what thou bad'st do.
I'll stop mine ears at these thy charms
And count them for my deadly harms.
Thy sinful pleasures I do hate,
Thy riches are to me no bait.
Thine honours do, nor will I love,
For my ambition lies above.
The Spirit begins by insulting the Flesh and calli...
... middle of paper ...
...e each have a part of our being that desires what the world offers. We seek instant gratification in things we know will not last. We are easily deceived by evil, and we are blinded by pleasure and wealth. We think that success is measured by earthly possessions and that truth is measured by what we can see. But we also each have a part of us that longs to fill that emptiness in our soul. We desire to find a purpose for our existence and a place for our heart to rest. We seek a Truth that is unimaginable. We want to be able to grasp eternity and hold on to it through these temporary lives we live.
We each have a battle for our soul going on inside of us. We must choose a sister to follow. They are both here, and they are both very much real. But they cannot coexist after death. Ultimately, one wins, and one dies. Which will it be &endash; the Flesh or the Spirit?
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