The Works of Anne Bradstreet

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1967 - Literary Criticism - 320 pages
10 Reviews

Anne Bradstreet, the first true poet in the American colonies, wrote at a time and in a place where any literary creation was rare and difficult and that of a woman more unusual still. Born in England and brought up in the household of the Earl of Lincoln where her father, Thomas Dudley, was steward, Anne Bradstreet sailed to Massachusetts Bay in 1630, shortly after her marriage at sixteen to Simon Bradstreet. For the next forty years she lived in the New England wilderness, raising a family of eight, combating sickness and hardship, and writing the verse that made her, as the poet Adrienne Rich says in her Foreword to this edition, "the first non-didactic American poet, the first to give an embodiment to American nature, the first in whom personal intention appears to precede Puritan dogma as an impulse to verse."

All Anne Bradstreet's extant poetry and prose is published here with modernized spelling and punctuation. This volume reproduces the second edition of Several Poems, brought out in Boston in 1678, as well as the contents of a manuscript first printed in 1857. Adrienne Rich's Foreword offers a sensitive and illuminating critique of Anne Bradstreet both as a person and as a writer, and the Introduction, scholarly notes, and appendices by Jeannine Hensley make this an authoritative edition.

Adrienne Rich observes, "Intellectual intensity among women gave cause for uneasiness" at this period--a fact borne out by the lines in the Prologue to the early poems: "I am obnoxious to each carping tongue/ Who says my hand a needle better fits." The broad scope of Anne Bradstreet's own learning and reading is most evident in the literary and historical allusions of The Tenth Muse, the first edition of her poems, published in London in 1650. Her later verse and her prose meditations strike a more personal note, however, and reveal both a passionate religious sense and a depth of feeling for her husband, her children, the fears and disappointments she constantly faced, and the consoling power of nature. Imbued with a Puritan striving to turn all events to the glory of God, these writings bear the mark of a woman of strong spirit, charm, delicacy, and wit: in their intimate and meditative quality Anne Bradstreet is established as a poet of sensibility and permanent stature.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
2
4 stars
4
3 stars
2
2 stars
2
1 star
0

Review: The Works of Anne Bradstreet (John Harvard Library)

User Review  - Susan - Goodreads

Skimmed through her longer muses, but so enjoyed her shorter ones and especially her poems to her children, and reading the advice she felt important to leave them with. A small glimpse into the mind of a woman from the mid 1600's. Read full review

Review: The Works of Anne Bradstreet (John Harvard Library)

User Review  - Jennifer M. Hartsock - Goodreads

The image of the refined wife was not taken lightly in England during the 1600s. She was to be modest and delicate to family and guests, and compliant and respectful of her husband. Questioning ... Read full review

Contents

TO HER MOST HONOURED FATHER BY A B 1
15
OF THE FOUR HUMOURS
33
OF THE FOUR AGES
51
THE FOUR SEASONS
65
THE FOUR MONARCHIES
73
THE ROMAN MONARCHY BEING THE FOURTH
174
AN ELEGY UPON SIR PHILIP SIDNEY
192
DAVIDS LAMENTATION
199
THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT
215
THE VANITY OF ALL WORLDLY THINGS
221
ANOTHER
227
IN MEMORY OF ELIZABETH BRADSTREET
235
OCCASIONAL MEDITATIONS
246
FOR MY DEAR SON SIMON BRADSTREET
271
UPON THE BURNING OF OUR HOUSE
292
Copyright

AN EPITAPH ON MRS DOROTHY DUDLEY
204

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1967)

Anne Bradstreet, daughter of one governor of the Massachusetts colony (Thomas Dudley) and wife of another (Simon Bradstreet), was the first woman to be widely recognized as an important and accomplished American poet. Educated at home in England and well tutored in the classics, Bradstreet married one of her father's assistants and traveled with Simon Bradstreet and her parents to New England in 1630. The ship, The Arbella, landed only a decade after the first Pilgrims, and Anne Bradstreet admitted to some discomfiture when she first witnessed the deprivation that the New World required. Nonetheless, Bradstreet settled in what would become Massachusetts and reared her eight children there. A Puritan more concerned with the world of God than with the world of humans, Bradstreet was still aware of the sensual power of language and the sway of familial affections. Her poetry explores this paradox through the employment of elegant, lyrical conceits. Her work also probes the position of women within the patriarchal structure of Puritan society. The Flesh and the Spirit (1678) explores such contradictory impulses, while Dialogue Between Old and New (1650) uses the Old and New Worlds as metaphors through which to decry both political upheaval and the tenuous nature of all relationships. Writing in an era when women's voices were frequently repressed or unrepresented, Bradstreet found a way to be heard; her poetry both reaffirms and reevaluates Puritan values. Bradstreet died in 1672.

Jeannine Hensley is former Assistant Professor of English at Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic information