ANNE BRADSTREET

Anne Bradstreet’s poems are meditative as the voice in them is
manifestly pondering personal issues. She is the first in a long line
of American poets who drew their consolation not from theology,
but from the vast frame of the heaven and the earth, summer and
winter, and all around her. She was an ambitious poet concerned
with religious, political, and cultural history, and a firm believer in
American Puritanism.

                     THE AUTHOR TO HER BOOK
Bradstreet was America’s first noteworthy poet, even though she
was a woman. “The Author to Her Book” is an example of her
excellent use of literary techniques, tinged with genuine emotion
and domestic subject matter. Influenced by Sir Philip Sydney,
Edmund Spenser and John Donne, she tried to imitate them, as is
evident in her use of conceit or extended metaphor. In the poem in
question, Bradstreet compares her book to a baby calling it the “ill-
formed offspring of [her] feeble brain” or “rambling brat”, thus
expressing the true affection she has for it.

After revising her poems, she compared this revision to cleaning a
child: “I washed thy face, but more defects I saw, and rubbing off a
spot, still made a flaw.” Here she bewails the fact that the more
revisions one does the more mistakes one notices, just as a mother
would notice any speck of dirt left on her almost immaculate child.

Bradstreet also uses the pun as shown in: “I stretched thy joints to
make thee even feet”. Just as a mother of the time would stretch
her baby’s legs to make them equal in length, Bradstreet strove to
make the feet of her poem equal, in other words to make it a
pentameter, which was the style of other poets during the colonial

“The Author to Her Book” attests to Bradstreet’s feelings about the
unauthorized printing of her work, while at the same time showing
the poet’s modesty about her ability to write. That is why she
compares her work to “homespun cloth”, which means coarse and

In this poem, Bradstreet writes about something she knows as she
was a mother of eight children. Broadly speaking, she brings her
personal experiences as a woman into her writing, thus opening a
new window onto American literature. Using domestic items and
themes, she expresses her emotions of embarrassment, love and

This poem is a perfect example of Puritan writing. Her faith and
values are made apparent within the first ten lines of the poem. It is
a meditative poem as it is entirely about her thoughts as she
watches her house burn. Fire alludes to the Day of Judgment and
the whole poem is suffused with biblical allusions. Her diction is
archaic as shown in such words as “succorless”, “repine”, and

The poem shows the poet’s solid faith in God and her belief that
everything can be reborn, just like Phoenix, which will emerge out
of the ashes. There is an important contradiction in the poem in the
sense that, even though she admits to having set her own house on
fire, she hints that it was God’s will. Her material side, which can
coexist with her spirituality, is evident in her longing for the
possessions consumed in the fire.

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