About this poet

Anne Bradstreet was born Anne Dudley in 1612 in Northamptonshire, England. She married Simon Bradstreet, a graduate of Cambridge University, at the age of 16. Two years later, Bradstreet, along with her husband and parents, emigrated to America with the Winthrop Puritan group, and the family settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts. There Bradstreet and her husband raised eight children, and she became one of the first poets to write English verse in the American colonies. It was during this time that Bradstreet penned many of the poems that would be taken to England by her brother-in-law, purportedly without her knowledge, and published in 1650 under the title The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America.

Tenth Muse was the only collection of Bradstreet's poetry to appear during her lifetime. In 1644, the family moved to Andover, Massachusetts, where Bradstreet lived until her death in 1672. In 1678, the first American edition of Tenth Muse was published posthumously and expanded as Several Poems Compiled with Great Wit and Learning. Bradstreet's most highly regarded work, a sequence of religious poems entitled Contemplations, was not published until the middle of the nineteenth century.

Bradstreet's poetics belong to the Elizabethan literary tradition that includes Edmund Spenser and Sir Philip Sidney; she was also strongly influenced by the sixteenth century French poet Guillaume du Bartas. Her early work, which is imitative and conventional in both form and content, is largely unremarkable, and her work was long considered primarily of historical interest. She has, however, won critical acceptance in the twentieth century for her later poetry, which is less derivative and often deeply personal. In 1956 the poet John Berryman paid tribute to her in Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, a long poem that incorporates many phrases from her writings.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Several Poems Compiled with Great Wit and Learning (1678)
The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America (1650)

Before the Birth of One of Her Children

Anne Bradstreet, 1612 - 1672

All things within this fading world hath end,
Adversity doth still our joys attend;
No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet,
But with death's parting blow are sure to meet.
The sentence past is most irrevocable,
A common thing, yet oh, inevitable.
How soon, my Dear, death may my steps attend,
How soon't may be thy lot to lose thy friend,
We both are ignorant, yet love bids me
These farewell lines to recommend to thee,
That when the knot's untied that made us one,
I may seem thine, who in effect am none.
And if I see not half my days that's due,
What nature would, God grant to yours and you;
The many faults that well you know I have
Let be interred in my oblivious grave;
If any worth or virtue were in me,
Let that live freshly in thy memory
And when thou feel'st no grief, as I no harmes,
Yet love thy dead, who long lay in thine arms,
And when thy loss shall be repaid with gains
Look to my little babes, my dear remains.
And if thou love thyself, or loved'st me,
These O protect from stepdame's injury.
And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this verse,
With some sad sighs honor my absent hearse;
And kiss this paper for thy dear love's sake, 
Who with salt tears this last farewell did take.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 11, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 11, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet wrote in the Elizabethan literary tradition and became one of the first poets to write English verse in the American colonies. 

by this poet

poem
In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I waken'd was with thund'ring noise
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.
That fearful sound of "fire" and "fire,"
Let no man know is my Desire.
I starting up, the light did spy,
And to my God my heart did cry
To straighten me in my Distress
And
poem
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee
poem
Most truly honoured, and as truly dear, 
If worth in me or ought I do appear, 
Who can of right better demand the same 
Than may your worthy self from whom it came? 
The principal might yield a greater sum, 
Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb; 
My stock's so small I know not how to pay, 
My bond remains