Anne Bradstreet was an English Puritan poet born in
the North America. She was the first writer who got published and the first
Puritan figure in American literature. (neki izvor) While reading Anne Bradstreet’s poetry, I
noticed a lot of autobiographical elements in it. In this essay, I am going to
analyze some of her poems and point out the autobiographical elements in them.
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 Anne Bradstreet’s most common literary themes and motifs.
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 own writing or even criticize it.
ANALYSIS OF The Author to Her Book
The theme of this poem is Bradstreet’s criticism of her poetry. She refers
to her work as the “ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain” 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”. Bradstreet says that her poetry was taken away
from her “after birth” which means she considers it to be her child. Those who
made it public have taken what means the most to her and revealed it to the
world. It left her feel 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 and only a mother
which is poor because she had to “send her child out the door”. 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.
This 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.
ANALYSIS OF Prologue
In the first stanza of this poem, Bradstreet lists glorious things which
she is not worthy to write about. She describes her work as “obscure lines”
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. 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 had its flaws and defects, but that is normal
and she doesn’t feel angry about it. 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 would 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.
ANALYSIS OF To Her Father with
The title itself tells us this 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 to which she refers to as a
“mite”. 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.
To My Dear and Loving Husband
Bradstreet wrote this poem to her loving husband to express the love she
feels for him. Their love for each other was immense. He made her feel so happy
and fulfilled that she invites other women to compare with her. It made 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.
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. These are the values all Puritans should possess. Their faith should
always be present and they fall under influence of those whose values are
In Before the Birth of One of Her