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Upon the buring of our house

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					Last name: ____________________________ First name: ________________ Period 2 3 4 6

Notes on “Upon the Burning of Our House July 10th, 1666”

•Lines 8-10 “And to my God…leave me succorless”[forsaken, without help or assistance especially in
time of difficulty] show Bradstreet relying on God to give her strength in tough times and to be fair in
his actions
•Lines 14-16 “I blest his name…so „twas just” show the Puritan belief in God‟s purpose (it must have
happened for a reason)
•Bradstreet began valuing earthly possession more than her faith; therefore, God took them away.
•Puritans believe all things in this world are God‟s and he has the right to take them away when he sees
fit.
•Lines 43-48 illustrate that Puritans have a permanent house in heaven “house on high erect/Framed by
that mighty Architect”.
•The end of the poem reinforces the Puritan belief in simplicity and plainness “There is wealth enough, I
need no more…my hope and treasure lies above”.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
•“Upon the Burning of Our House” is filled with inversions. In an inversion, sentences are not written
in normal word order. For example, Bradstreet writes “I wakened was with thund’ring noise” instead of
“I was wakened with thund’ring noise.” Inversion is often used to make a poem’s rhyme scheme work
out or to maintain a fixed meter.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

•Plain style is a way of writing that stresses simplicity and clarity of expression. There are four
characteristics of plain style: everyday language, simple sentences, direct statements, and Biblical
references.
                                Ornate Style                   Plain Style

                         Shabby but beloved, my        My shoes are old, brown,
                         shoes house my feet as        kind of worn-out, but
                         they carry me from place      comfortable for walking
                         to place.                     around in.

                         The pen spills ink blood      The pen is a blue ballpoint
                         as it brings words to life.   with a leaky tip.

Answer the following questions after reading the poem:
1. What is the speaker’s initial reaction when she wakes up to find her house on fire? _____________

2. In the second stanza, Bradstreet shows the Puritan belief that God is the true owner of everything she
possessed. Write the lines that show this belief. ______________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________

3. List three of the items in the house (mentioned in the poem) that burned.
_______________________________________________________________________

4. What is the metaphor in lines 43-48?
_______________________________________________________________________
5. Bradstreet chides (scolds) herself. She is having trouble accepting the loss of her house. She asks
herself where true wealth abides (lives). If true wealth is not on earth, according to Puritans, where is it?
(Tip: Read the last line of the poem.)
________________________________________________________
6. What did Bradstreet value more than her house? How did this help her accept the loss of her house
by fire?
______________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________


7. Complete the chart below using plain style.

      Example of Inversion from the Poem                          Restatement of the Inversion

 “In silent night when rest I took” (line 1)


 “I, starting up, the light did spy,” (line 7)


 “When by the ruins oft I past” (line 21)


 “My pleasant things in ashes lie,” (line 27)


 “And them behold no more shall I.” (line 28)




8. Bradstreet speaks of another “house” in an extended metaphor at the end of the poem. What is this
house, who is its architect, and how is it more perfect than the house she has lost?




9. Pelf-a word designating riches or worldly goods – is usually only when the riches or goods are
considered to be slightly tainted, ill-gotten, or stolen. Why do you suppose Bradstreet uses such a bitter
word to describe her own cherished treasures?




10. How does Bradstreet’s attitude change during this poem and why? Cite the lines that begin the
three distinct parts of this poem.

				
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