|Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings|
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"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
[Deliverance] From Another Sore Fit
Deliverance from a Fit of Fainting
Meditations When My Soul hath been Refreshed
Meditation July 8th., 1656
Meditation [no date]
Meditation May 13, 1657
Meditation May 11, 1661
Upon My Dear and Loving Husband his Going into England
In My Solitary Hours in My Dear Husband his Absence
In Thankful Remembrance for My Dear Husband's Safe Arrival
Before the Birth of One of Her Children
On the Burning of my House
If you like the poetry of Anne Bradstreet, you should also try Edward Taylor and Michael Wigglesworth.
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