Birth Imagery In ‘The Author To Her Book’
Anne Bradstreet’s “The Author to Her Book” reflects on an author’s feelings to her book after it is published and critiqued as an unfinished product. The poem uses the controlling metaphor of an author and her book to the relationship of a loving mother and her child to express the author’s complex attitude that shifts throughout the course of the work. Diction, apostrophe, and the first-person perspective are incorporated alongside the controlling metaphor to convey the speaker’s true emotions.
The controlling metaphor in the part of the poem that exposes the flaws of the author’s book reflects the conflicted tone of the author, introducing the basis of her feelings toward her work. The author addresses her book as her “ill-formed offspring” (1), which presents its imperfections and suggests the author’s role as a motherly figure to her book. Referring to her book as her “rambling brat” (8), the author shares one of its key flaws—irrelevant wordiness—and diction suggests that the author lacked control of the book’s premature publication. Through multiple instances of apostrophe, which is evident in examples such as “Made thee in rags” (5) and “at they return” (7), the author specifically addresses her book as oppose to just talking about it, giving her words familiarity and direction. Despite the author’s tone of disappointment and embarrassment toward her book, the motherly figure that she has for it indicates affection and responsibility which is incorporated into the middle part of the poem.
The author’s attempts to revise her book are introduced through the poem’s recurring metaphor, reinforcing the significance of the metaphor in conveying the author’s feelings to her book. The author continues to assumer her motherly position when she likens her process of revising her book to cleaning a child, saying “I washed thy face” (13).To make sure that the book is in a presentable condition when published, the author attempts to improve her book’s use of vocabulary; however, “nought save homespun cloth” (18) is all she can find. The metaphor between improving vocabulary and dressing in quality cloth reflect the author’s goal of providing the best opportunity for her book despite the complications that arise. Apostrophe once more reflects the author’s truthful intention in sincerely communicating with her book, reminding it that she has “stretched thy joints” (15) and intended to “[trim] thee” (17). Unlike the expository portion of the poem, the author’s tone along with the controlling metaphor inform the book of the author’s dedication toward it from the first-person perspective of a mother cleaning and dressing her child for a momentous event.
The comparison of the author’s book to a lone child entering the world parallels the author’s last words to her book, suggesting that she wants the best for it despite its shortcomings. The diction of“In this array” (19), in regard to the book’s current state after the author’s attempts at revision, phonetically and ironically suggest a product finished in disarray despite the efforts made to improve the quality of the book. Preparing to release her book out into the world as if it were a child leaving home, the author’s tone now transitions into one of concern and counseling, warning it to “beware thou dost not come” (20) into the hands of critics. The author’s advice to her book about what it should do if “for thy Father asked” (22) and “for thy mother” (23) indirectly make more apparent that the author views herself as the mother to the book that is her child because she gives it parents. Furthermore, the author admitting to her book that the Mother “sent thee out of door” (24) because of poverty hints at a tone of guilt and regret, and strongly implies that she did not intend for the book to be rashly published. All of the author’s actions in order to revise her book did not meet her standards, yet that does not cause her to give up on it completely before it is made public.
“The Author to Her Book” illustrates through the overarching metaphor of an author and her book to a mother and her child that a book can still be appreciated by its author even if it does not turn out the way that is expected. Comparing the complex feeling of the author to her book to motherly love makes clear that the speaker truly cares for her work and hopes for its success. Additionally, readers are able to sympathize with the theme of caring and nurturing for something cherished that must one day be let go.
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