Upon the Burning of our House, July 18th, 1666

In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I waken'd was with thundring nois
And Piteous shreiks of dreadfull voice.
That fearfull sound of fire and fire,
Let no man know is my Desire.
I, starting up, the light did spye,
And to my God my heart did cry
To strengthen me in my Distresse
And not to leave me succourlesse.
Then coming out beheld a space,
The flame consume my dwelling place.

And, when I could no longer look,
I blest his Name that gave and took,
That layd my goods now in the dust:
Yea so it was, and so 'twas just.
It was his own: it was not mine;
Far be it that I should repine.

He might of All justly bereft,
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the Ruines oft I past,
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast,
And here and there the places spye
Where oft I sate, and long did lye.

Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest;
There lay that store I counted best:
My pleasant things in ashes lye,
And them behold no more shall I.
Under thy roof no guest shall sitt,
Nor at thy Table eat a bitt.

No pleasant tale shall 'ere be told,
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle 'ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom's voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lye;
Adieu, Adeiu; All's vanity.

Then streight I gin my heart to chide,
And didst thy wealth on earth abide?
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the skye
That dunghill mists away may flie.

Thou hast an house on high erect
Fram'd by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent tho' this bee fled.
It's purchased, and paid for too
By him who hath enough to doe.

A Prise so vast as is unknown,
Yet, by his Gift, is made thine own.
Ther's wealth enough, I need no more;
Farewell my Pelf, farewell my Store.
The world no longer let me Love,
My hope and Treasure lyes Above.

By Anne Bradstreet, a wondrous Puritan poet.

Even in the 17th century some recognized that the temporal "home" was composed of alot of material things. How would you react to your house afire when everyone is safe?


  1. A dear friend of mine and her family lost their home in the San Diego fires several years ago. They had only enough time to grab the family photos and thrown a few clothes in box and go. It was quite a lesson for them in materialism -- how many toys the kids had that they didn't care about, how many clothes they never wore. They found, as I suspect most of us would, the most important "things" were each other and being together. Their biggest struggle was having to move from shelters to friends' homes to hotels to apartments to a trailer as they rebuilt. It was the instability that hurt the most. That and trying to be gracious in accepting all forms of "charity." Many people helped them with food and clothing, but they were hurt to find the things being given were given without thought -- past-dated cans of food, but nothing that would truly make a meal, bags of clothes, some 20 years old, dirty and moldy. As if they could clear their conscience by clearing their closets and pantries of things that should have just been thrown away. They're still rebuilding, and their life is simpler now. They don't bicker over financial matters and material goods as they once did, and they've grown closer, more appreciative of life and each other. It's been a blessing to see. I only pray I would react with as much patience and humility.

  2. Hi Rebecca! I completely understand. I originally read this as a sophomore in high school and it struck me how one could learn to be "okay" with losing everything you one. Of course, this was a time when going to the mail was essential and if my mom handed me some cash I was obliged to spend it.

    I hope the best for your friends. I can't believe how inconsiderate some people are with "charity." When something is to the point that it's just... gross it gets thrown out! It should never be an option to give away things that NO ONE wants. Completely unbelievable.