Anna Bradstreet’s poetry

Table of contents
1. Introduction
2. Poems by Anna Bradstreet
3. Conclusion

Anna Dudley Bradstreet is often called the first poet of America. She was born in Northamtop in England in 1612 and spent her childhood at Tattershall Castle, where she was surrounded by numerous books and comparative luxury. Her views on the life were mostly influenced by her father’s position and Puritan surrounding.
Anne was a very unhealthy child and she almost died from smallpox when she was 16 years old. After the recovering she married Simon Bradstreet, a protege of the Earl’s. Soon she with her husband and family moved to America. The trip was difficult and life in America at first wasn’t very easy too but it was the first time Anne Bradstreet saw the real life in all its manifestations. The family used to live in Cambridge where her first son was born, then in 1644 they moved to North Andover, which became her home for the rest of the life.
Anna had to bring up eight children, keep the house in order and take care of her husband, who was the governor of the colony and in spite of all these duties she found time to write poems.
Poems by Anna Bradstreet
At first she wrote poems for her own satisfaction. She admired life in the New World, she was happy with her friends and family. She was fond of French poet Du Bartas and most of her poems of this period were written under his influence. Anna’s brother-in-law without her knowledge collected Anna’s first 15 poems and published them under the title “The Tenth Muse Lately sprung up in America, Or Severall Poems, compiled with great variety of Wit and Learning, full of delight… By a Gentlewoman in those parts”. Most critics say that these poems were dull and don’t show real Bradstreet’s talent. “The often wooden lines and forced rhymes of her early poems reveal Bradstreet’s grim determination to prove that she could write in the lofty style of the established male poets, but her deeper emotions are obviously not engaged in the project.” (Amore, 1982.)
Her later works are much deeper, we see that she really live in her poems. She reflects her own feelings and her own sight of the world. This makes her poems much closer to readers. Her actual experience of wife, mother and woman of a Puritan society that is reflected in her later works captivates people. The examples of such poems are “To My Dear and Loving Husband”, “Before the Birth of One of Her Children” and “The Author to Her Book”. Anna loved her husband very much and so devoted him not just her life but also her poems. She wrote love poems when he was away on work trips and when he was at home near her. The love between husband and wife was not a frequent phenomenon in the Puritan society, because it kept away from full devotion to the God. So, Anna followed the call of her heart that is to my mind more important than to follow all the customs of the Puritan church. The poem “To My Dear and Loving Husband” is filled in with love of a happy wife:
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
In “To My Dear and Loving Husband” Anna Bradstreet uses traditional rhyme of that time called end rhyme. It’s a type of rhymes where lines end in similar sounds. Repeated phrases “if ever” and “love” are the rhythm of the poem and they create an impression of slow romantic song.
“The Author to Her Book” is her another beautiful poem that has a rather difficult structure. Anna draws the picture of everyday life of a woman in Puritan society and references domesticity. With the help of specific rhyme scheme Anna Bradstreet’s poem reflects literary conventions of the time. Ten syllables in every line and an AA BB rhyming help the author to create the specific atmosphere where penetrates the reader. The poem doesn’t have biblical references and it was very unusual for those times, as Puritan religious views were very strong. It also was not very usual and good that woman was a poetess. According to strict Puritan customs the woman must devote herself to her husband and children and she mustn’t take part in social life.
But it’s rather difficult to say that Anna was not a real representative of her society. Some of her poems are dedicated to themes usual in Puritan society. In one poem she describes how the family’s house burned down. Another her poem that is called “Before the Birth of One of Her Children” and describes typical situation. It’s full of thoughts of the author before her possible death because of the birth of her child:
All things within this fading world hath end,
Adversity doth still our joys attend;
No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet,
But with death’s parting blow are sure to meet.
In this poem she uses standard end rhyme that helps the poem to sound naturally and musically. In her poems Anna Bradstreet emphasize poetic sound to express her themes.

Anna Bradstreet is called the first American poet. She moved to America with her family and immediately faced with strict and sometimes unfair customs and views of Puritan church. Being the member of this society it was difficult for Anna to write poems and be equal with men. Very often she was judged and criticized by her neighbors because of her writing activity and status. Anna Bradstreet’s literary heritage gives us a possibility to analyze the literature of that period.

1. Amore, Adelaide P., ed. A Woman’s Inner World. Boston: University Press of America, 1982.
2. Vinson, James, ed. St. James Reference Guide to American Literature: American Writers to 1900. Chicago: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1980
3. Bradstreet, Anne. The Tenth Muse Poetry. The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet. Eds. Joseph R. McElrath and Allan P. Robb. Twayne Publishers, Boston, 1981.
4. Bradstreet, Anne. The Several Poems Poetry. The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet. Eds. Joseph R.
5. Rosenmeier, Rosamond. Anne Bradstreet Revisited. Twayne Publishers, Boston, 1981.

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