Anne Bradstreet Poems

Humility Displayed in the Anne Bradstreet’s Prologue

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

In keeping with tradition, Anne Bradstreet like several other Renaissance writers, introduces her work The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America (1650), through a prologue. Not only does it serve the purpose of acquainting the reader with the subject of the quaternions (set of four interrelated poems) but also allows the poet to “address the reader directly about the craft, or about the likely reception of the work that she expects” (Dasgupta, 16). Much like her other public works, the Prologue too adopts the tone of humility that is characteristic of Bradstreet’s writing style. What strikes one as unusual her is the excessive nature of her modesty that borders on self-deprecation. One must be advised against taking the poet’s words at face value. This paper attempts to determine if the supposed tone of humble compromise in the Prologue is, in fact, a posture assumed by Bradstreet to facilitate “affect” (Isobel Armstrong) among her readers, thus, convincing them of her skills as a writer.

Although often understood as reflecting the “ethos of Puritan self-effacement” (Dasgupta 8), the Prologue is actually a clever ploy that is used to appropriate Bradstreet’s craft while appeasing the predominantly male conservative audience who read it. As stated by Eileen Margerum, “In the classical poetic tradition, a poem’s success depended not on the validity of the poet’s sentiments but on her successful use of prescribed formulae” (152). Anne Bradstreet, as a 17th century poet, draws on the classical poetic tradition of her predecessors as well as the Puritan narrative tradition which compels her to include the “formulae of humility” in her works, irrespective of her personal feelings (Margerum 152). The incorporation of both these conventions is evident in the following lines from the Prologue:

“To sing of Wars, of Captains, and of Kings, Of Cities founded, Common-wealths begun, For my mean Pen are too superior things; Or how they all, or each their dates have run, Let Poets and Historians set these forth. My obscure lines shall not so dim their worth.”

The above mentioned Refusal delineates the fact that her poetry does not extend to history writing, a male-dominated sphere, quite like poetry composition. Her seemingly meek stance results in a certain degree of ambiguity surrounding the idea that she moulds her public persona to fit what she perceives to be a man’s world. She further goes on to point to her poetic ancestry by mentioning Guillame de Salluste Du Bartas (a French protestant poet) and referring to Sir Philip Sidney’s Defense of Poesy frequently. This act highlights her insecurities as a writer stemming from the lack of a lineage of women poets. It is on this basis that, later, prominent feminists Gilbert and Gubar argue that just as male writers experience an “anxiety of influence” as proposed by Harold Bloom, so do female writers undergo an “anxiety of authorship” (“The Infection in the Sentence: The Woman Writer and the Anxiety of Authorship”, 25). Bradstreet’s work dramatically identifies itself as an example of this phenomenon, therefore, feeding into the idea that this too is pretence and that she is very consciously constructing an image that is anxious and insecure of the process of creation.

We witness a transition from the Rhetoric of Impossibility to the Rhetoric of Deception, which is carried out through the heavy employment of irony. Judith Butler’s concept of the performance of the self comes into play as we see Bradstreet engaging in the use of the first person as a means of persuasion and several figures of speech and tropes featuring in the Prologue. Her self-fashioning, through the management of the narrative and plea for the absence of criticism, clamours for attention, thus, adding to the performative nature of the work. One begins to comprehend the nature of the Prologue as a response to pre-existing literary traditions which were masculine, as Bradstreet casts off this tone of humility and delves into the usage of satirical devices. A clear instance of this is seen in line 36 of the Prologue, “The Greeks did nought but play the fools and lie”, where she calls the Greeks fools for possessing fanciful ideas, such as women being “capable of producing knowledge and art” (Dasgupta 18), which were held in contempt by future civilizations. Thus, this ironic tone implies that the humility is a performance and therefore the poem is a performance of the self.

“Men have precedency and still excel; It is but vain unjustly to wage war. Men can do best, and Women know it well. Preeminence in all and each is yours; Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours.” (Bradstreet quoted in Dasgupta, 19)

There are different interpretations of the above lines presented by Anannya Dasgupta. One is consistent with the tone of humility Bradstreet apparently adopts to indicate the threats posed to a woman who tries to navigate the male dominated space of poetry. It is based on the superficial meaning of the lines that convey her acceptance of the gender inequalities in which the politics of poetry are embedded and she grants the superiority and privilege that men claim for themselves while submitting to “just a little bit of acknowledgement” (19). The second chooses to read between the lines and points to the ironic humorous play that Bradstreet continues to indulge in. This reading is more empowering as it challenges men to be able to grant even a small acknowledgement, while looking beyond their own greatness, to women who quite clearly deserve more. Bradstreet quite effortlessly leaves her mark in literary history as the first American poet to be published in Europe, despite being a gendered subject. She effectively wields the one of humility as a rhetoric tool and is able to create the desired impact on most readers, at least those who are able to overcome the challenge she poses to them too. Hence, one can agree that this Prologue is more than a humble submission of Bradstreet to the weighty lineage of male writers that preceded her. It is, in fact, the laying of a foundation for women to have a literature of their own in America.

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A Comprehensive Review of ‘a Letter to Her Husband, Absent Upon Public Employment’

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Anne Bradstreet is one of the most prominent literary figures of the colonial era of American history, and she is often cited as one of the primary sources of Puritan literature. Some of her work carried undertones of pre-First-Wave feminism because she subtly alluded to certain gender inequities, at least for those who can read between the lines. “A Letter to Her Husband, absent upon Publick Employment” is one of the staple examples of how she accomplished this, especially in a way that was still endearing to men who heard only what they wanted to hear.

In “A Letter to Her Husband, absent upon Publick Employment,” the speaker discusses the differences between her mind and her heart, as well as between her eyes and her life; what many men likely missed in their time was that she is alluding to her husband with each of these things. The reader only knows this because the speaker continues to call him her joy and her “magazine of earthly store” and then personify these things by suggesting that they are collectively one entity who is away from her. She characterizes this period of his absence as a winter, and she mourns it as though he were dead. In contrast, she goes on to characterize times of his presence as periods in which she feels no storm or cold, so she pleads that he return to her and end her “dead time.” She even mentions that looking at their children is difficult because they remind her of him.

Calling her husband her “magazine of earthly store” references the Biblical notion expressed in similar wording of inhabiting this sinful world before ascending to heaven in the afterlife. She uses this to mean that, apart from God himself, her husband is her everything. It is most important, though, that the reader understand that her husband is not dead, which is an easy misconception to make; rather, he is simply on a business trip. The first feminist undertone appears here implicitly in the simple fact that she is confined to the house, and the speaker goes on to describe her situation. She does not want to be there while her husband is not there, and she describes it as a winter period. She also says her limbs lie cold without him, painting this picture of a house that is not so much a home as it is a cold prison.

The speaker employs Zodiac imagery to describe the seasonal cycle mentioned earlier, and she references Zodiac signs throughout the poem. The sun occupies its highest point where the Capricorn constellation was in the summer, and in the winter, days are shorter and colder. The coldness now takes on a meaning that is as literal as it is figurative because it draws the reader’s mind to the loneliness she describes while also directly referencing the seasonal cycle. This is why her husband’s return is likened to the period when the sun occupies Cancer, a warm time that occurs in the summer.

The underlying issue in this poem, though, is not a seasonal or sexual one about solely the loneliness of the speaker. The poem is really pointing to something that is even more significant than these things. Ultimately, she is looking at her situation in a very literal way, but the poet, Bradstreet, intends for the reader to critically analyze the sentiments the speaker in the poem is expressing. The speaker is talking about this coldness, loneliness, and so forth in a very specific, deliberate way. She chooses her words carefully, and she often has many choices at her disposal for what word to use in several of her lines. There are numerous synonyms for several of the key words she uses in the poem, but she says everything she says for a very specific effect that she wants to impose upon the reader so as to evoke a certain response.

The reality of what the speaker is expressing to her husband, as well as what Bradstreet is expressing to the reader, is something that fleshes out the remainder of the meaning of the title of the poem. So far, the discussion has only even really substantiated the first half of the poem’s title, but the second half points to what it is that eludes the speaker: public employment. When she continually expresses sadness about the fact that her husband is away from her, she always does so in a way that puts the action and power in his hands. It is he has the power to come and go at will while she is imprisoned in the home. Similarly, it is the husband who is empowered with a job and consequently financial security, and in a manner of speaking, that job and financial security go with him any time he leaves, which is a serious concern.

What the speaker is truly highlighting is the gender inequality of their society or, at the very least, of their marriage. She does not have the liberty to earn a living for herself, and she is no less dependent on her husband than their children are despite the fact that, any son she may have, will eventually be much more independent than she because he will mature to an age at which he can get a job, earn a living, and own property. Granted, there is a sexual element to the poem, albeit it a subtle one. At the very most, there is reference to the idea of the speaker perhaps being sexually frustrated. Once again, this like many other observations is dependent upon analyzing her word choice and acknowledging that she had many other words and phrases to choose from instead. She calls her limbs chilled and numb, claiming that they now lie forlorn, which could double as a reference to her spurned, sexual desire. She also makes other potential double entendres like referring to her children as the fruits she bore through his heat, which is slightly less subtle than the previous example, and she even furthers it to call it a strange effect that comes over her when she looks at them seemingly because she recalls their conception. Bradstreet is unusually sensual in her writing for a Puritan woman, and this much is especially clear in this poem.

Even so, that which is sensual about the poem is likely only the surface detail, which can only serve to distract from the true substance underneath it all. Bradstreet wrote this poem with a very sensitive understanding of her place in her society as a Puritan woman. Very little opportunity was afforded her or her peers simply because of their sex, and their sex actually determined their station. In a postmodern society, there are still elements of women’s lives that are symptomatic of this same problem, and in many areas of the world, progress from this point is next to nonexistent. The poem highlights which explorations and freedoms are traditionally designated for women, and which are not.

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The analysis of Anne Bradstreet’s Literary Work

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

In “Here Follows Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10th, 1666” Anne Bradstreet delves into the topic of a tragic fire in her home. In the poem, her house is represented as a keepsake for all of her memories made within it and now the fire has seemingly turned it all to ash. She expresses her ambivalence between her devastation and her Puritan beliefs by displaying both initial sorrow and eventual acceptance. Various aspects of this poem are used to show Bradstreet’s momentary quivering faith in her providential beliefs. The poem’s changing mood, few instances of enjambment, shifts in tone of diction, and use of rhetorical devices express the theme of acceptance.

The content of this poem is focused around the despair and damage caused by the fire in Bradstreet’s home. The author is awoken by loud noises and voices, which alert her to the calamity happening around her. The first half of the poem explores the damage caused by the fire and all the tangible items the author has lost. However, due to Bradstreet’s Puritan beliefs, the poem shifts into a more providential theme as opposed to the theme of loss shown in the beginning. She believes that the fire, the loss of her home and all the memories made within it, is done by God’s divine intervention and has purpose. The transition between her mourning of her loss and then her acceptance due to her providential beliefs is clearly shown in the poem. This is especially displayed in lines 14-17 where Bradstreet writes: I blest His name that gave and took, That laid my goods now in the dust. Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just, It was his own, it was not mine This excerpt from the poem shows the acceptance Bradstreet holds for the fire because of her providential beliefs that everything is predestined. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter and consists of only rhyming couplets. The majority of the poem is written with enjambment and this causes the sequence of the fire and the destruction to seem more chaotic and despairing. The enjambment between lines 3-4: “I wakened was with thund’ring noise/ And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice,” creates a faster paced rhythm in the poem, emulating the rapid pace of the fire.

Throughout the poem, Bradstreet appears to be more reconciled toward the fire once she reminds herself that it is because of God’s doing and it has happened for a reason. Of course, it cannot be expected that Bradstreet is utterly accepting of the fact that her home and all of her dearest belongings have been turned to ash. This uncertainty of faith is shown through her difference in language from the beginning to the end of the poem. The mood of the poem seems to swiftly switch from despair to acceptance as she trusts her faith in her Puritan beliefs. This change in mood is shown through Bradstreet’s choice of emotional diction. The beginning of the poem is laced with deeply negative diction such as “sorrow,” (line 2) “piteous,” (line 4) and “succourless” (line 10). The tone of the poem changes significantly when her providential belief is mentioned. The author uses more positive diction such as “mighty Architect,” (line 44) “glory richly furnished,” (line 45) “hope and treasure,” (line 54). The language used and the mood of the poem are very closely related in this instance.

The meaning of the poem is largely affected by Bradstreet’s use of metaphors and similes. One extended metaphor in particular, in lines 49-51, enforces the author’s Puritan worldview as well as the theme of the poem. The metaphor is in reference to Bradstreet’s faith that though her home on earth has been destroyed, God has an even lovelier home waiting for her in heaven. Bradstreet expresses this belief in the lines: “A price so vast as is unknown,/ Yet by His gift is made thine own;/ There’s wealth enough, I need no more,” (lines 49-51). The author creates an extended metaphor of a “…house on high erect/ Frameed by that mighty Architect,” (lines 43-44) which represents the home in heaven created by God. It is in this way Bradstreet is saying that though she is in despair over her loss, she knows that it is all in God’s predestined plan. This is difficult to fully believe, however, because Bradstreet does remark on the memories that can no longer be made in this home and the memories she is leaving behind in the lines: “Under thy roof no guest shall sit,/ Nor at thy Table eat a bit.” (lines 29-30). These lines show that though she has accepted the tragedy as providential, it is still a great loss of both the tangible and intangible parts of her life.

“Here Follows Some Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 10th, 1666,” shows the muddled tension between natural emotions and the theology of the Puritans. The fire in Anne Bradstreet’s house causes her to feel conflict between her basic human emotion and what her Puritan theology tells her she should feel. This is expressed throughout the poem with selectively ambivalent diction, extended metaphors, and two conflicting moods of despair and acceptance. The fire is essentially a spark to her uncertain faithfulness toward the Puritan beliefs of providence, resulting in her conflicting tones within the poem. The poem ends with Bradstreet accepting her loss and remaining loyal to her Puritan beliefs, despite her loss of everything else.

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Birth Imagery In ‘The Author To Her Book’

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

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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Puritans’ Point Of View In ‘Upon The Burning Of Our House’ By Anne Bradstreet

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

As a Puritan, Anne Bradstreet strove to live her life according to Calvinist doctrine while still having to cope with the struggles of her human condition (Mooney). When Bradstreet’s house burned down, she was struck with the reality of life’s hardships and presented with an opportunity to do one of two things. If she were to yield to her humanity and allow herself to be overcome by the loss of her worldly wealth, she could then blame God and turn away from Him. If she were to let her soul win out over that humanity, she could embrace the Puritan belief that God is still good and that she has a greater treasure waiting for her in heaven. In this she could draw closer to God, having learned to let go of her worldly possessions. Bradstreet struggles within herself for a time, but in the end she is able to arrive at a place where she accepts the loss of her material belongings and has her sights re-aligned on what truly matters – her relationship with God.

When Bradstreet realized that her house was on fire, her first response was to immediately cry out to God the moment she first saw the flames when she said, “I, starting up, the light did spy, / And to my God my heart did cry” (Bradstreet ll. 7-8). The thought of blaming or being angry with God seems to not even enter her mind. She immediately recognizes God’s sovereignty and the fact that there is no possible way she can survive this tragedy without His strength. She begs God to “strengthen [her] in [her] distress / And not to leave [her] succorless” (“Burning” 9-10). Bradstreet is frightened, as any human being would be in this situation – whether she was a Puritan or not – but the importance of this circumstance is how Bradstreet responded to that fear. It is evident from the beginning that she is a faithful follower of God in that she instinctually cries out to Him, even in the midst of this horrible and unexpected tragedy.

Soon after her outcry of fear and uncertainty, Bradstreet seems to calm a bit and she begins to even praise God, saying, “I blest his name that gave and took” (“Burning” 14). Bradstreet demonstrates great trust in God from the moment she first saw the flames, and in this it is apparent that she genuinely believes in Puritan doctrine. She was not angry with God in the slightest, because she acknowledges that everything she owned “was His own, it was not [hers]” (“Burning” 17). In this, Bradstreet is even thankful because God did not take everything, but left her with her family and enough to still survive. She asserts He could have taken any amount of her belongings and she still would not have been angry with Him, because it would be His right to take whatever he saw fit (“Burning” 19-20). After line 20, however, the tone changes again from her faithful, hopeful optimism to sense of strong lamentation.

Bradstreet describes walking by her old house and being reminded of the sting of loss she experienced in the fire (“Burning” 21-22). Though she knows as a believer in God that those things should hold little value, she admits she still struggles daily with the sadness she feels over losing them. She seems much less convicted about God’s goodness at this point, thought she doesn’t come right out and say that. The reasons she gave to still praise God and be joyous in the beginning seem to bring her much less comfort now as she stands face-to-face with the physical loss she endured. Bradstreet shows the extreme difficulty she is experiencing in letting go of her worldly possessions as she describes in detailed pathos everything she misses so dearly about that house (Mooney). She speaks of a wide range of earthly treasure she regrets losing, from the emotional wealth of laughter and entertaining guests, to her material wealth, or her “pleasant things” (“Burning” 23-36). In the midst of her dolefulness, however, she seems to snap back to her senses and to the reality of what she knows her outlook on life and the human condition should be as a Puritan.

Bradstreet begins to reprimand herself for holding her earthly belongings in such high value. Her inner battle is made evident when she angrily asks herself:

And did thy wealth on earth abide?

Didst fix thy hope on mold’ring dust?

The arm of flesh didst make thy trust? (“Burning” 38-40)

She knows she should not consider any treasure greater than hers in heaven, and she seems frustrated with herself for having such difficulty letting go of what she lost in the fire. Then she begins to think about what truly matters to her, telling herself to “rise up [her] thoughts above the sky” (“Burning”41). After this encouraging word to herself, Bradstreet seems to switch her perspective as she turns back to talking about God and what he has blessed her with.

Bradstreet is joyous again, refocusing on what she has in God:

Thou hast an house on high erect,

Framed by that mighty Architect,

With glory richly furnished,

Stands permanent though this be fled. (“Burning” 43-46)

It is obvious at this point how superior she feels her heavenly wealth is to the material possessions she lost in the fire. It seems Bradstreet now realizes the worth and purpose of this seemingly tragic incident – that she take her focus off the “dunghill mists [which] away may fly” (“Burning” 42) and re-align her sights on her heavenly treasure. It seems at this point in her poem, Bradstreet is experiencing a revelation that she did not need the things she lost in the fire, because her Lord, the “mighty Architect” (“Burning” 44), has prepared for her a treasure infinitely more valuable in heaven, and “there’s wealth enough, [she] needs no more” (“Burning” 43-51).

Bradstreet’s poem depicts the vivid contrast between worldly and heavenly treasure, while also illustrating the trouble a depraved human being has letting go of worldly riches. She admits she had put too much hope and invested too much time in her earthly wealth, and then a disaster struck that swept it all away. She knows she does not have to morn the loss of those things, because they were only meant to be temporary, and though it may be hard to say goodbye to her “pelf…[and]…store” (“Burning” 52), she knows that is what God wants her to learn to do. Bradstreet seems to acknowledge that the fire was ordained by God’s hand, yet she does not consider herself unjustly treated and she does not feel angry or bitter at Him for it. In fact, it seems Bradstreet considers the fire as a blessed sign from God, warning her of the value she had placed on her material belongings, and saving her from continuing to do so.

Bradstreet is suddenly very much aware of the fact that the treasure one possesses on earth is temporary and unstable (“Burning” 52). In understanding this, Bradstreet is reminded of the one treasure that is not temporary, but eternal. The one eternal treasure that is valued far above any such trash one can find on earth is that of the treasure one stores up in heaven and is promised by God. Bradstreet expresses gratitude in her poem to God when she realizes the gift of immeasurable value he has bestowed upon her. Suddenly, she has no need for earthly treasure, which has dimmed tremendously in comparison with that which the Lord offers. She is finally able to let go of what she lost, as she says:

Farewell, my pelf, farewell my store.

The world no longer let me love,

My hope and treasure lies above. (“Burning” 52-54)

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The Analysis Of The Poem “Upon The Burning Of Our House” By Anne Bradstreet

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Anne Bradstreet in her poem Upon the burning of our house, sets a perfect example of dealing with a situation which is out of our control. She expresses her distress on losing her beloved possessions but at the same time her awareness that she has to detach her connection to the world and focus on God(intro?). She remains calm throughout and looks at the situation optimistically, her faith in God helps to keep her together and move on. Bradstreet sees her house on fire, burning all her worldly possessions along.

She accepts that nothing could be done to rectify the situation, she tries to reorient her thoughts, saying “I blest his name that gave and took/that laid my goods now in dust.”. She acknowledges that all she owns belongs to God and he can take it away whenever he wants. Moreover, she reminds herself “Adieu, Adieu, all’s vanity” which means everything is futile and comes to an end. In the last part of the poem Bradstreet consoles herself by thinking about the permanent house built for her in heaven. The house is “framed by that mighty architect” and is “richly furnished”. The new use will not be subject to fire or any earthly alteration. She says goodbye to her house and emphasizes “My hope and treasure lies above”.

Through this poem Anne Bradstreet like any other person expresses her sorrow upon the loss of her house but at the same time tries to keep going by possessing immense faith in God.S imilarly, Mary Rowlandson tried to remain positive positive even in the toughest situations. Her immense immense faith in God helped her to maintain positiveness. She mentions how God was with her all the time, carried her along and kept her spirit high.

The day she and her child were forced to travel on the horse made her and her child’s condition worse. She was deeply wounded and her child was suffering from fever to which she thought was the end of her life but were alive. She thanked God for not letting her spirit sink, she said “still the lord uphold me with his gracious and mercifull spirit, and e were both alive to see the light of the next morning.” Rowlandson mentions, ‘ wonderfull goodness of God to me, …that I did not use wicked and violent means to end my own miserable life’. When her child died instead of losing faith in God she thanked him for saving her from taking any harmful measures or ending her life.

Also, through her writing she portrayed that she contended with God’s decision as he saved her child from all the sufferings. Moreover, instead of presenting her bad deed in a confessional way, Rowlandson rationalizes it by saying the child could only gnaw on the tough meat. She even thanks the Lord for making such an unappealing food taste good. It is hypocritical on her part to thank the Lord for his providence when engaging in such an act. (how to add thiss??)Instead of losing faith in God when he preserves the enemy or does not protect her and the English, she emphasizes all the more emphatically his role in shaping the course of human events.

Finally, her argument serves as a strong general criticism on the English people, including herself. Furthermore, the portrayal of emotions through writing alongwith eternal faith in God was not limited to female authors.

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Conventional and Unconventional Love in Anne Bradstreet’s and John Frederick Nims Literary Works

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

‘Anne Bradstreet uses traditional ideas of love where as John Frederick Nims takes an unconventional approach to love’

How far and in what ways do you agree with this view?

Both ‘A Letter to Her Husband, Absent Upon Public Employment’ and ‘Love Poem’ present conventional ideas about the love of another person. However, Bradstreet, writing at a time when partners were often separated due to the requirements of male job duties, acquires a traditional love poem structure, addressing themes of separation and eternal love. Differently, Nims challenges conventional ideas of love writing as a modern poet, which allows him to focus on what society would usually deem flaws in the character of a person.

In ‘A Letter to Her Husband’ Anne Bradstreet uses a traditional structure which creates the presentation of a traditional love poem. This is seen through the use of rhyming couplets throughout the entire poem for example, ‘more’ and store’. This is often used in traditional love poems and by many influential poets such as Shakespeare. The purpose of these rhyming couplets is to create the sense of unity and togetherness between both the author and her lover. This links with the context in which Bradstreet is writing of which she has been separated from her husband as seen in the title of the poem who is ‘Absent Upon Public Employment’, and yet love keeps the two united, demonstrated in this rhyme scheme. Despite this, Bradstreet offers an unconventional approach to love poetry as she is writing during a male dominated society and is therefore expressing change as a female love poet.

Differently, Nims as a modernist poet, challenges conventional approaches to love by using an unconventional rhythm. This is evident from the alternating, irregular rhyme scheme used throughout the poem. In this case, every other line has a rhyme such as ‘ring’ and ‘thing’. This links with the humorous tone of the poem which is used to contrast typical ideas of love. Modernist poets often depart from traditional writing as is seen in this poem. Furthermore, the metre used throughout the poem is similarly of an irregular nature, which also contrasts traditional approaches to love and opposes Bradstreet’s use of iambic pentameter which develops the theme of a traditional approach to love.

Bradstreet makes use of typically traditional imagery such as zodiac and astrology which illustrates the conventional approach to love. This is seen from lines such as ‘I, like the Earth this season, mourn in black,/My Sun is gone so far in’s zodiac’ which illustrates a traditional view. The metaphoric image of Bradstreet being the ‘Earth’ while her lover is the ‘Sun’ creates a sense of unity and connection between the two, linking with the traditional theme of the poem. The suggestion that the lover is the ‘Sun’ is also a reflection of the time the poem is written, as the sun is the centre of the universe, highlighting that the male is also the most important feature of the relationship, which is a traditional view. The suggestion that she ‘mourn(s) in black’ is similarly representative of the traditional tone to the poem. This particular image alludes to death highlighting that separation from her lover is like that of death, again suggesting a traditional approach.

Nims uses images that deviate from social expectations of what would normally be considered unattractive features of a person’s character, which creates an unconventional love poem. This is seen from the very opening line of the poem ‘My clumsiest dear’ which is an oxymoron. Nims creates the effect of highlighting that despite being a flaw in character, his love for the person he is writing to is still sincere, hence the address ‘dear’. This is continued by the hyperbolic statement ‘whose hands shipwreck vases’ as an image to describe his lover. This humorous image of a ‘shipwreck’ contrasted with the feminine image of ‘vases’ allows Nims to express how he loves every quality of the person he is writing about. This is again a departure from traditional love poetry as it unconventionally continues to focus on the flaws of his lover, which is common in modernist poetry.

In ‘A Letter to Her Husband’ Bradstreet writes about the unity of true love, despite the barriers which ay prevent them from being united, which is a traditional theme. The overall tone of the poem is one of sadness due to the poet’s separation from her lover due to her husband’s employment requirements, however, there is also a sense of hope in the unity of love. This is illustrated in the lines ‘Flesh of thy flesh, bone of thy bone, / I here, thou there, yet both but one’ which is structured as the final two lines of the poem. The recurring biblical imagery in the poem is further seen in the lines ‘Flesh of thy flesh…’ which again highlights the unity of love which is a traditional approach to love. The use of the conjunctive adverb ‘yet’ on the final line of the poem illustrates that despite all the downsides of separation from one another the two are ‘both but one’ which shows the unity in love. furthermore, the metre in these final lines deviates from iambic pentameter to iambic tetrameter creating a hopeful tone that differs from the rest of the poem.

Similarly, ‘Love Poem’ writes about the unity true love, which is a traditional approach to love. This is seen from the final two lines ‘For should your hands drop white and empty/ All the toys of the world would break’. The ‘white and empty’ image alludes to death as these images are often symbolic of death, which is often an image in traditional love poetry such as ‘A Letter to Her Husband’. The image of all the ‘toys’ in the world breaking illustrates the relationship between the poet and lover by implying that only death would be able to break the unity of their love. This also adds to the fun humorous tone of the poem as ‘toys’ are a childish image yet is used to represent the relationship, the ‘world’ is symbolic of Nims world and suggests that all the fun in his life would be lost when death breaks the unity between lovers. From this aspect, the poem can be seen as taking a traditional approach to love.

To conclude, due to the context each poem is set, they either write traditionally or unconventionally on the theme of love. despite this, due to the fact love is an eternal theme, there are elements of a traditional approach to love found in both poems.

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Feminism Issue in “The Prologue” By Anne Bradstreet

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

In the early writing of Anne Bradstreet called The Prologue, she tells about how hard life can be. Throughout her writing, she expresses sorrow, loss, death and the hard times of life. There are many other works of hers that consist of happiness and good life events, but in this specific writing, she focuses on the negative aspects of life and things going on in life. Just like other people in the world, Anne Bradstreet didn’t have a very easy life; however, she tried to make light of the life she lived and the different paths she is on.

This writing by Anne Bradstreet, “The Prologue”, is focused on the narrator of the poem, and what they think about a woman writing poems the way she does. When talking about the way she writes, she explains how she leaves the bigger, more important subjects of history to the professional writers, or the men. The speaker says this because she feels as if the world hasn’t given her as a woman, the intelligence or the ability to make great works of art like poems with more elaborate subjects.

Living during the earlier times in the writing world, the speaker, being the writer of the poem, causes her to look at herself the way women used to back then. During her time period, women were looked at as less intelligent than men and in no way, could do anything that men could do. In result of this mindset during the early writings and 1700’s, Anne Bradstreet looked at herself in her own writings with that same thought.

Anne Bradstreet’s, “The Prologue”, is a great representation of the time period it was written. Since the author looked at herself as having “fewer brains” than men and not being able to create great art, it provides the readers with proof of how the women in that time period thought of themselves. She mentions in this reading that even if she were to write a good set of poems or writings she would be accused of stealing them from a male writer.

This writing is a perfect example of what it was like for not only Anne Bradstreet but other female writers during her time. By Bradstreet explaining her feelings of being second to men, she put it out into the world that she wants to be acknowledged for the work she has been doing and wants to put an end to not being recognized for her brilliance. This work of art, “The Prologue” could be used in many feminisms talks and debates as an example of how even back in the early days of writing, women were always put second to men.

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Anne Bradstreet’s Poetic Message of Hope

June 14, 2019 by Essay Writer

Hope in the face of death seems to be an impossible concept to adequately convey to a reader. After all, death itself seems to be the epitome of hopelessness and despair. However, Anne Bradstreet conveys in her poetry this very idea. Bradstreet lived in a Puritan community in America where people lived very hard lives and struggled greatly. In such conditions, death was a possibility that loomed over people on a daily basis. As such, it is a topic that Bradstreet chose for many of her poems. She endeavors to bring hope to her fellow settlers, even in the face of death, by widening their field of vision to include eternity that is promised to them by God. In her poems “Contemplations,” “Before the Birth of One of her Children,” and “As Weary Pilgrim,” Bradstreet uses nature to illustrate where to keep one’s focus in life and shows how to remain hopeful when death is an inevitable and ever-present fact of life.

While Bradstreet praises nature in her poetry, she acknowledges its insufficiency while using it for a higher purpose. In her poem “Contemplations,” she speaks highly of nature and the beauty it possesses. She praises nature’s ability for rejuvenation in the eighteenth stanza by saying, “If winter come and greenness then do fade, / A spring returns, and they more youthful made” (Bradstreet 124-125). She seems envious of this trait and reveres it. She then observes that man falls short in these terms: “But man grows old, lies down, remains where once he’s laid” (Bradstreet 126). Man falls victim to time and age without the ability to regenerate. With this realization, she is addressing a subject that would have been very prevalent in her time: death. Life in America was hard for people in the communities in which Bradstreet found herself, and these harsh conditions led to very high death rates. This accounts for Bradstreet’s admiration for nature’s regenerative powers and takes it a step further by asking a question: “Shall I then praise the heavens, the trees, the earth / Because their beauty and their strength last longer?” (Bradstreet 134-135). She quickly silences this thought by observing that, despite the longevity of trees, the earth, and all other forms in nature, these things will eventually die and “man was made for endless immortality” (Bradstreet 140). She is showing that despite the places where man falls short, namely in strength and longevity, he will receive his reward in the eternal world and because of that, man is superior. This would have been a message of hope for the people of Bradstreet’s time that were struggling. This idea that they would be rewarded in the next life was a comforting notion and one that was rooted in Puritan beliefs. However, rendering nature insignificant seems to be contradictory to the rest of the poem, which spends a good amount of time praising nature.

Despite her seemingly contradictory statements about nature’s worthiness of adulation, she is justified in her use of nature as her focus and her praise of nature’s beauty and superior appearance because she speaks about nature as a reflection and illustration of religious ideals. She opens the poem with praise for the beauty of the trees during autumn. She takes it a step further in stating, “If so much excellence abide below, / How excellent is He that dwells on high…” (Bradstreet 9-10). She sees nature as a reflection of God himself. Not only is it a reflection; Bradstreet also proves that observations of nature can be used to illustrate religious concepts. For example, she observes a fish swimming and infers that he is striving for the goal of reaching the ocean. As she did with her previous description of nature, she takes the illustration further and relates it to something of greater value. In the same way the fish is struggling, a person struggles through the hardships of life with the promise of eternal life at the end of the journey. Nature alone is not worthy of worship, but when viewed as God’s creation and a reflection of him, it is to be revered because it is meant to point to him. She is conveying the importance of keeping the focus on God in all things and to strive for the ultimate goal of eternity throughout life rather than earthly goals. In the words of Kopacz, she is saying, “Earthly achievement and status, memorials and records, are meaningless in the perspective of eternity. Only salvation can triumph over time” (Kopacz). As she refocuses her audience, she is telling them through her use of nature that God and salvation in him should be focused on in life because it is the only thing that lasts throughout eternity.

She recognizes the difficulty of keeping one’s eyes on God and illustrates this struggle in her poem entitled “Before the Birth of One of her Children.” This poem was written upon the impending birth of one of Bradstreet’s children, and in it, she recognizes the possibility of dying in childbirth. She observes in the poems the far-reaching power of death by stating, “No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet, / But with death’s parting blow is sure to meet” (Bradstreet 3-4). With this statement and the previous examples of Bradstreet’s poetry, one would expect mention of the eternal life that waits after death. However, as Dempsey points out, “the speaker does not soften death’s reality with pious words about an expectation of heaven or by a repentance for sin” (Dempsey). The poem is void of any such promise. Instead, she laments leaving behind her husband and begs that he cherish her children if she should perish. She even goes on to say, “And if I see not half my days that’s due…” (Bradstreet 13). In other words, she is saying that if something does happen to her, she will have been cheated out of time on this earth. This is not the voice of someone who is looking toward the eternal life promised after death. This is a realistic and natural attitude to have, and she is illustrating here the difficulty when facing death to keep one’s eyes on such things. When faced with the possibility of leaving all that one has known, she shows that worrisome thoughts set in and fall upon those you will leave behind. This gives the poem a desperate tone that is devoid of hope. However, this is not the only view of death that Bradstreet gives. In her poem entitled “As Weary Pilgrim,” she talks about the toils of life and the relief and comfort to be found in life after death and states, “Such lasting joys shall there behold… Lord make me ready for that day / Then come, dear Bridegroom, come away” (Bradstreet 41-44). In her poetry, she illustrates the desperate struggle with one’s own death while showing the reader that relief can be found when focuses on the eternal life God promises.

Anne Bradstreet’s religious beliefs are strongly rooted in her poetry, and the poetry itself seeks to help people on their own spiritual journeys. She shows how man is superior to nature because of the promise of eternal life. Although it may seem in this life that nature itself is stronger and more majestic than man, it is of no value because man will receive his reward in the next life. Therefore, to understand this, one must always remain focused on God and the ultimate goal of eternity with him. She illustrates that very concept by connecting everything she sees in nature back to religious ideas. However, as Bradstreet realized, this is not always an easy to do. Her feelings about the possibility of her own death are also in her poetry, and they evoke a sense of hopelessness. She shows her own despair that occurs when she lets her eyes fall from God to earthly things alone, and in illustrating that struggle, she makes her message of hope even stronger. Her charge to keeps one’s eyes on God, and the illustration of her own struggle to do so in her poetry shows that there is hope to be found in the end, even for those, like herself, who may struggle to keep their eyes on that which is eternal.

Works Cited

Bradstreet, Anne. “Anne Bradstreet.” Beginnings to 1820, edited by Nina Baym, 8th ed., W. W. Norton and Company, 2012, pp. 207-38. 2 vols.

Dempsey, Francine. “Before The Birth Of One Of Her Children.” Masterplots II: Poetry, Revised Edition (2002): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 21 Sept. 2016.

Kopacz, Paula. “Contemplations.” Masterplots II: Poetry, Revised Edition (2002): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 21 Sept. 2016.

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An Analysis of Bradstreet’s “A Letter to Her Husband, absent upon Publick Employment”

June 3, 2019 by Essay Writer

Anne Bradstreet is one of the most prominent literary figures of the colonial era of American history, and she is often cited as one of the primary sources of Puritan literature. Some of her work carried undertones of pre-First-Wave feminism because she subtly alluded to certain gender inequities, at least for those who can read between the lines. “A Letter to Her Husband, absent upon Publick Employment” is one of the staple examples of how she accomplished this, especially in a way that was still endearing to men who heard only what they wanted to hear.

In “A Letter to Her Husband, absent upon Publick Employment,” the speaker discusses the differences between her mind and her heart, as well as between her eyes and her life; what many men likely missed in their time was that she is alluding to her husband with each of these things. The reader only knows this because the speaker continues to call him her joy and her “magazine of earthly store” and then personify these things by suggesting that they are collectively one entity who is away from her. She characterizes this period of his absence as a winter, and she mourns it as though he were dead. In contrast, she goes on to characterize times of his presence as periods in which she feels no storm or cold, so she pleads that he return to her and end her “dead time.” She even mentions that looking at their children is difficult because they remind her of him.

Calling her husband her “magazine of earthly store” references the Biblical notion expressed in similar wording of inhabiting this sinful world before ascending to heaven in the afterlife. She uses this to mean that, apart from God himself, her husband is her everything. It is most important, though, that the reader understand that her husband is not dead, which is an easy misconception to make; rather, he is simply on a business trip. The first feminist undertone appears here implicitly in the simple fact that she is confined to the house, and the speaker goes on to describe her situation. She does not want to be there while her husband is not there, and she describes it as a winter period. She also says her limbs lie cold without him, painting this picture of a house that is not so much a home as it is a cold prison.

The speaker employs Zodiac imagery to describe the seasonal cycle mentioned earlier, and she references Zodiac signs throughout the poem. The sun occupies its highest point where the Capricorn constellation was in the summer, and in the winter, days are shorter and colder. The coldness now takes on a meaning that is as literal as it is figurative because it draws the reader’s mind to the loneliness she describes while also directly referencing the seasonal cycle. This is why her husband’s return is likened to the period when the sun occupies Cancer, a warm time that occurs in the summer.

The underlying issue in this poem, though, is not a seasonal or sexual one about solely the loneliness of the speaker. The poem is really pointing to something that is even more significant than these things. Ultimately, she is looking at her situation in a very literal way, but the poet, Bradstreet, intends for the reader to critically analyze the sentiments the speaker in the poem is expressing. The speaker is talking about this coldness, loneliness, and so forth in a very specific, deliberate way. She chooses her words carefully, and she often has many choices at her disposal for what word to use in several of her lines. There are numerous synonyms for several of the key words she uses in the poem, but she says everything she says for a very specific effect that she wants to impose upon the reader so as to evoke a certain response.

The reality of what the speaker is expressing to her husband, as well as what Bradstreet is expressing to the reader, is something that fleshes out the remainder of the meaning of the title of the poem. So far, the discussion has only even really substantiated the first half of the poem’s title, but the second half points to what it is that eludes the speaker: public employment. When she continually expresses sadness about the fact that her husband is away from her, she always does so in a way that puts the action and power in his hands. It is he has the power to come and go at will while she is imprisoned in the home. Similarly, it is the husband who is empowered with a job and consequently financial security, and in a manner of speaking, that job and financial security go with him any time he leaves, which is a serious concern.

What the speaker is truly highlighting is the gender inequality of their society or, at the very least, of their marriage. She does not have the liberty to earn a living for herself, and she is no less dependent on her husband than their children are despite the fact that, any son she may have, will eventually be much more independent than she because he will mature to an age at which he can get a job, earn a living, and own property. Granted, there is a sexual element to the poem, albeit it a subtle one. At the very most, there is reference to the idea of the speaker perhaps being sexually frustrated. Once again, this like many other observations is dependent upon analyzing her word choice and acknowledging that she had many other words and phrases to choose from instead. She calls her limbs chilled and numb, claiming that they now lie forlorn, which could double as a reference to her spurned, sexual desire. She also makes other potential double entendres like referring to her children as the fruits she bore through his heat, which is slightly less subtle than the previous example, and she even furthers it to call it a strange effect that comes over her when she looks at them seemingly because she recalls their conception. Bradstreet is unusually sensual in her writing for a Puritan woman, and this much is especially clear in this poem.

Even so, that which is sensual about the poem is likely only the surface detail, which can only serve to distract from the true substance underneath it all. Bradstreet wrote this poem with a very sensitive understanding of her place in her society as a Puritan woman. Very little opportunity was afforded her or her peers simply because of their sex, and their sex actually determined their station. In a postmodern society, there are still elements of women’s lives that are symptomatic of this same problem, and in many areas of the world, progress from this point is next to nonexistent. The poem highlights which explorations and freedoms are traditionally designated for women, and which are not.

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