Anne Her Father with Some Verses, To My Dear

Anne Bradstreet was an English Puritan poet born in
Northampton. She was the first writer who got published and the first Puritan figure
in American literature (Anne Bradstreet, Encyclopedia.com). While reading Anne
Bradstreet’s poetry, I noticed many autobiographical elements in it. In this
essay, I am going to analyze some of her poems and point out the main idea of
each poem. Also, I am going to focus on her criticism of her own poetry which
she expressed through some of the poems. My goal in this paper is to get a
conclusion about Bradstreet’s literary inspiration and if it was linked to her personal
life.

To achieve this goal, I have chosen seven of her poems
which I analyze in this paper. Therefore, I have organized my paper into seven
sections, one of each for every poem. The poems I have analyzed are the
following: The Author to Her Book,
Prologue, To Her Father with Some Verses, To My Dear and Loving Husband, Flesh
and The Spirit, Before the Birth of One of Her Children and By Night when Others Soundly Slept. I
put an emphasis on the autobiographical elements in each of the poems,
especially on those which refer to her writing or even criticize it.

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The theme of The
Author to Her Book is Bradstreet’s criticism of her poetry. She refers to
her work as the “ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain” (Poets.org, Anne
Bradstreet; The Author to Her Book) which
means she is very critical about it and isn’t truly satisfied with the product
of her imagination. She is angry that her work was “snatched from thence by
friends” and “exposed to public view” (Poets.org, Anne Bradstreet; The Author to Her Book) which could
refer to her brother-in-law who took her poetry without her knowledge and
published it in England (Anne Bradstreet, Encyclopaedia Britannica). Bradstreet
says that her poetry was taken away from her “after birth” (Poets.org, Anne
Bradstreet; The Author to Her Book) which
means she considers it to be her child. Those who made it “exposed to public
view” (Poets.org, Anne Bradstreet; The
Author to Her Book) have taken what means the most to her and revealed it
to the world. It left her feeling naked and exposed with everyone free to judge
her. Her errors were open to the public eye and she couldn’t hide them anymore.
In the last three lines she states that her poetry has no father but only a
mother who is poor because she had to “send her child out the door”(Poets.org,
Anne Bradstreet; The Author to Her Book).
 These lines express Bradstreet’s
discontent to make her work public and exposed. She feels that she lost a part
of herself like a mother does when she loses her child. The poem might be the
best example of her criticism upon her work and her life choices. She doesn’t
think her poetry is worthy enough to be published because it is still not
perfect.

In the first stanza of Prologue, Bradstreet lists glorious things which she is not worthy
to write about. She describes her work as “obscure lines” (Poetry Foundation,
Anne Bradstreet; Prologue) which
could lessen their worth. In the second stanza she mentions Bartas who was a
famous poet who wrote a poem about the creation of the world (Guillaume de
Salluste, seigneur du Bartas, Encyclopaedia Britannica). She envies him because
of his greatness and considers herself to be nowhere near such talent. The lack
of her talent she blames on the Muses which didn’t help her. Bradstreet is
humble and doesn’t classify her poetry as something great or important, but
rather something simple and average. In the third stanza, she reconciles with
the reality and doesn’t feel surprised that she isn’t a better writer. Her
Muses have failed her but she isn’t angry because of it, she accepts the
situation as it is. We can see that from the entire third stanza because it is
written that we cannot expect broken things to work perfectly, nor can we
expect something to be perfect when it has flaws. Bradstreet’s poetry is also
like that, not perfect because it has its flaws and defects, but that is normal.
The adjectives such as obscure, weak, wounded, foolish and broken reveal her opinion about the
poetry she writes. However, the fifth stanza carries a different message. We
can see her passion when it comes to writing, her defiance towards everybody
who wants to forbid her to write and to be a poet. The injustice towards women
was strong in the past and she wants to point it out. If her work was a
success, they would accuse her of stealing it or even accidentally doing it.
This shows the problems and prejudices she had to fight against in her time.
She asks for justice and that women get what they deserve.

The title of the poem To Her Father with Some Verses tells us the poem is autobiographical.
The respect she has for her father is expressed in this poem. We see that she
feels indebted and wants to pay her debt starting with this poem which she
refers to as a “mite” (Poetry Foundation, Anne Bradstreet; To Her Father with Some Verses). She will continue paying the dept
to her father to whom she owes everything, until she is alive. However, in the
conclusion she states that she will only repay it when she dies because that is
when it will worth the most. Her poems will be known and they will gain value
which could honour her father the way he deserves it. This poem is an
expression of her greatest respect and love towards her father.

Bradstreet wrote To
My Dear and Loving Husband to her spouse, she wants to express the love she
feels for him. Their love for each other is immense and he makes her feel so happy
and fulfilled that she invites other women to compare with her. Also, their
love makes her feel superior and elevated. We find out that he means a lot to
her and she feels she cannot repay him for everything he offered. She is truly
loved and wishes that they continue to madly love each other so it remains
forever written in her poetry. This poem is the best example from which we get
an insight in her relationship with her husband and the feelings she has for
him. (Poetry Foundation, Anne Bradstreet; To
My Dear and Loving Husband)

The poem Flesh and The Spirit is
about two sisters which are very different, one is the representative of the
material earthly world and the other is a representative of the spiritual.
Bradstreet expresses Puritan elements through the conversation between the
sisters. It is best seen in the Spirit’s perseverance to glorify all things
spiritual. Bradstreet writes about the values all Puritans should possess.
Their faith should always be present and they mustn’t fall under the influence
of those whose values are corrupted. (PoemHunter.com, Anne Bradstreet; Flesh and The Spirit)

In Before the
Birth of One of Her Children Bradstreet expresses her awareness that death
is near and could come get her. Once again we can see the love that she has for
her husband from the lines she wrote. The reason why she wrote this poem is
that her husband can have closure if death comes for her. This poem is very
personal and portrays the author’s relationship with him, also it reveals her
fears and wishes. She wants him to be happy even if she leaves this world and
he stays alone. By saying “And kiss this paper for thy loves dear sake” (Poetry
foundation, Anne Bradstreet; Before the
Birth of One of Her Children) Bradstreet tells her husband to honour her by
reading this poem which she wrote “…with salt tears…” even when she is no
longer on Earth. (Poetry foundation, Anne Bradstreet; Before the Birth of One of Her Children).

In By Night when
Others Soundly Slept is a poem through which the author expresses the
thoughts she has when the night falls and everybody is asleep. It is an
expression of her beliefs. She is thankful to God for making her as she is. She
loves him and knows how much he has done for her. What makes her unable to fall
asleep at night is the thinking about how she should express her gratitude to
him. Finally, she declares she will be his servant as long as she lives. This poem
along with Flesh and The Spirit portrays
Bradstreet’s opinion on how Puritans should feel and behave. They should always
stay humble no matter what and live with respect towards God. (Poetry
foundation, Anne Bradstreet; By Night
when Others Soundly Slept)

CONCLUSION

The seven poems I have analysed proved my premise right. Bradstreet
writes about herself and the aspects of her life. She includes her loved ones
and the feelings she has for them in her poetry. Also, the important part is
that she writes about her poetry and isn’t afraid to criticize it. She is aware
that she isn’t perfect and that there is always room for progress. We find a
lot about her life, her literary role models and the problems she has to face
with. From these seven poems we found out she is a true believer and a Puritan
who follows that way of life in faith. She is humble and grateful to everybody
who helped her become what she is. We can conclude that the love she has for
her husband is immense and that him and her father both left a strong impact in
her poetry and on her life. All of these seven poems consisted autobiographical
elements so we can conclude that her life was also the source of her poetic
inspiration.