Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings
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Index to the Poetry of Anne Bradstreet

"A frontier is no friendly place for literary creation; yet within a year after landing with John Winthrop in Massachusetts, America's first English poet was writing, and the fruits of her pen from the next forty odd years remain with us today," according to Jeannine Hensley, the editor of her Works. Hensely goes on to say, "she was not a great poet, but her poetry has endured." It has endured because of the personal intensity and poignancy of her writings, borne out of hard experience and faith.

Anne Bradstreet was born in 1612 to Thomas Dudley and raised in a prosperous, educated home. After marrying Simon Bradstreet, she sailed to New England on the Arbella, exchanging a life of relative comfort and culture for the wilderness of Cambridge. It would appear that she was converted in the midst of her new hardships of building a home, storing food, enduring sickness, and raising eight children. Her poetry is a combination of Sixteenth Century convention, her new-found faith, and her struggle for the survival of her family. She went to be with the Lord in 1672.

These poems are taken from the Works of Anne Bradstreet edited by Jeannine Hensley and published by the Harvard University Press. I selected the poems which speak most particularly of the Puritan experience, however Before the Birth of One of Her Children is included because of its poignancy.

N.B. It is easy for those less than intimately acquainted with Puritan history to confuse Anne Bradstreet with another Anne, Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643). This other Anne was also a writer, but due to her heretical views of the church, was excommunicated and banished from Massachusetts.

Here Follow Several Occasional Meditations
     "I sought Him whom my soul did love"

[Deliverance] From Another Sore Fit
     "In my distress I sought the Lord"

Deliverance from a Fit of Fainting
     "Worthy art Thou, O Lord, of praise"

Meditations When My Soul hath been Refreshed
     "Lord, why should I doubt any more when Thou hast given me such assured pledges of Thy love?"

Meditation July 8th., 1656
     "What God is like to Him I serve?"

Meditation [no date]
     "My soul, rejoice thou in thy God"

Meditation May 13, 1657
     "My sun's returned with healing wings"

Meditation May 11, 1661
     " My thankful heart with glorying tongue// Shall celebrate Thy name"

Upon My Dear and Loving Husband his Going into England
     "Lord, let my eyes see once again// Him whom Thou gavest me"

In My Solitary Hours in My Dear Husband his Absence
     "O Lord, Thou hear'st my daily moan// And see'st my dropping tears"

In Thankful Remembrance for My Dear Husband's Safe Arrival
     "O Thou that hearest prayers, Lord,// To Thee shall come all flesh"

Before the Birth of One of Her Children
     "All things within this fading world hath end"

On the Burning of my House
     "Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest;
     "There lay that store I counted best:
     "My pleasant things in ashes lye,
     "And them behold no more shall I."

If you like the poetry of Anne Bradstreet, you should also try Edward Taylor and Michael Wigglesworth.

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