12 March 2009
Anne Bradstreet life was shaped by her Puritan beliefs, her American residence, her role as a woman and her desire to be apoet. Her ability to combine these roles together is what made her to be one of the best poets of her generation.
She was born in 1612 in England. Her father Thomas Dudley moved to America when shewas about seven. In America she grew up among progressive, enlightened people like the eminent scholar John Norton, Nathaniel Ward and even John Winthrop who influenced her writings.
One can see theessentials of the Puritans’ influence on Bradstreet’s early poems, called “The Quaternions”. They reflect the seriousness with which they took the Bible, that even the most trivial problems werereferred to biblical interpretation for solution.
Bradstreet had a strong desire to create a body of poetry that reflected her own experiences and poetically distinguished her interests. They reveal aperspective on the joys and sorrows women experience in the early colonial period. Women were considered intellectually weaker than men, and thus unfit for strenuous mental labors. People oftenquestioned her work and suggested it was stolen. But in 1650 she became the focus of considerable interest when “The Tenth Muse” was published in London. Her work eventually brought her respect.
ForBradstreet, poetry was a way of asserting herself when such an assertion was considered almost sinful in a woman. But poetry had several functions for her. It was not only self assertion but also selftranscendence and at the same time, peculiar, self justification.
It is true that she was influenced by other writers. But her strength lies not in what she used but in the way she used it. Her poetry hassome flaws, but it is also full of surprises and lovely moments. Her best poems seemed to be “As Weary Pilgrim” and “Contemplations” and even the less interesting poems such as “The Quaternions” are...