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 time. “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 unrefined. 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 delight. HERE FOLLOWS SOME VERSES UPON THE BURNING OF OUR HOUSE 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 others. 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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