Complaint of New Amsterdam

An Electronic Edition · Jacob Steendam (1616-?)

Original Source: Anthology of New Netherland; or, Translations from the early Dutch poets of New York, with memoirs of their lives. Ed. Henry C. Murphy. New York : (s.n.), 1865.

Copyright 2003. This text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided.

Full Colophon Information


I’m a grandchild of the Gods  
Who on th’ Amstel have abodes;  
Whence their orders forth are sent  
Swift for aid and punishment. 

I, of Amsterdam, was born, 5.
Early of her breasts forlorn;  
From her care so quickly weaned 7.
Oft have I my fate bemoaned. 

From my youth up left alone, 9.
Naught save hardship have I known;  
Dangers have beset my way11.
From the first I saw the day. 

Think you that a cause for marvel ?13.
This will then the thread unravel,  
And the circumstances trace,15.
Which upon my birth took place.  

Would you ask for my descent? 17.
Long the time was it I spent 
In the loins of warlike Mars.19.
‘T seems my mother, seized with fears, 

Prematurely brought me forth. 21.
But I now am very. loth 
To inform how this befol;23.
Though ’twas thus, I know full well.  

Bacchus, too,-it is no dream,25.
First beheld the daylight’s beam  
From the thigh of Jupiter.27.
But my reasons go too far.  

My own matter must I say, 29.
And not loiter by the way,  
Yen though Bacchus oft has proven 31.
Friend to ine in my misfortune. 

Now the mid-wife who received me, 33.
Was Bellona; in suspense, she 
Long did sit in trembling fear, 35.
For the travail was severe.  

From the moment I was born, 37.
Indian neighbors made me mourn.  
They pursued me night and day, 39.
While my mother kept away.  

But my sponsors did supply 41.
Better my necessity; 
They sustained my feeble life; 43.
They procured a bounteous wife  

As my nurse, who did not spare 45.
To my lips her paps to bare.  
This was Ceres; freely she 47.
Rendered what has nurtured me.  

Her most dearly will I prize;49.
She has made my horns to rise; 
Trained my growth through tender years, 51.
‘Midst my burdens and my cares. 

True, both simple ’twas and scant, 53.
What I had to feed my want. 
Oft ‘t was nought except Supawn55.
And the flesh of buck or fawn.  

When I thus began to grow, 57.
No more care did they bestow.  
Yet my breasts are full and neat, 59.
And my hips are firmly set.  

Neptune shows me his good will; 61.
Merc’ry, quick, exerts his skill 
Me t’adorn with silk and gold; 63.
Whence I’m sought by suitors bold.  

Stricken by my cheek’s fresh bloom, 65.
By my beauteous youthful form, 
They attempt to seize the treasure 67.
To enjoy their wanton pleasure. 

They, my orchards too, would plunder. 69.
Truly ’tis a special wonder, 
That a maid, with such a portion, 71.
Does not suffer more misfortune  

For, I venture to proclaim,73.
No one can a maiden name,  
Who with richer land is blessed 75.
Than th’ estate by me possessed. 

See! two streams my garden bind, 77.
From the East and North they wind, 
Rivers pouring in the sea,79.
Rich in fish, beyond degree.  

Milk and butter; fruits to eat 81.
No one can enumerate; 
Ev’ry vegetable known;83.
Grain tbc best that e’er was grown.  

All the blessings man e’er knew, 85.
Here does our Great Giver strew,  
(And a climate;ne’er more pure) 87.
But for me,-yet immature, 

Fraught with danger; for the Swine 89.
Trample down these crops of mine;  
Up-root, too, my choicest land;91.
Still and dumb, the while, I stand,  

In the hope, my mother’s arm 93.
Will protect me from the harm.  
She can succour my distress.95.
Now my wish, my sole request, 

Is for men to till my land;97.
So I’ll not in silence stand.  
I have lab’rors almost none; 99.
Let my household large become;  

I’ll my mother’s kitchen furnish 101.
With my knicknacks, with my surplus;  
With tobacco, furs and grain;103.
So that Prussia she’ll disdain. 

Full Colophon Information

Genre: Poetry
Subjects: Colonial Society and Life
Period: 1650-1700
Location: New Netherlands
Format: verse

This poem was completed ca. 1671but not published until 1939 in New York.

The text of the document was prepared from and proofed against Jacob Steendam, "The Complaint of New Netherlands" in Anthology of New Netherland; or, Translations from the early Dutch poets of New York, with memoirs of their lives. , ed. Henry C. Murphy (New York : (s.n.), 1865). All preliminaries and notes have been omitted except those for which the author is responsible. All editorial notes have been omitted except those that indicate significant textual variations. Line and paragraph numbers contained in the source text have been retained. In cases where the source text displays no numbers, numbers are automatically generated. In the header, personal names have been regularized according to the Library of Congress authority files as "Last Name, First Name" for the REG attribute and "First Name Last Name" for the element value. Names have not been regularized in the body of the text.