ANNE ~ THE GRACEFUL POETESS
Anne was passionate about life. When she looked at nature, she saw art. When she read history, she heard poetry. When she interacted with her children, she experienced vitality. When she faced tragedies, she felt deep emotions.
Women in Anne’s era did not express their innermost feelings aloud, much less commit them to paper with pen and ink. But, Anne loved to write and so she did, voluminously.
Anne richly lived out her name ~ graceful, favored one.
A Puritan, Anne Dudley Bradstreet emigrated at age 18 with her husband, parents, siblings, and friends from England to the New England colonies. The group sailed in eleven vessels to the New World in 1630.
Anne’s husband, Simon Bradstreet took up his role among the politicians of Massachusetts while Anne kept their home. She eventually bore eight children of whom she said “I had eight birds hatcht in one nest, Four Cocks there were, and Hens the rest.” Although Anne had many duties occupying her time, she found a way to write. Her first known poetry dates to the year of her arrival in the colonies.
Anne’s role as the wife of a prominent citizen of Massachusetts allowed her access to many conversations involving current events as well as theology, government, science, and literature. Further, during her childhood in England she was exposed to the ancient philosophers, classical literature, Shakespeare, and the Bible along with Elizabethan society. It is said that her personal library numbered over 800 books. For a female of her time, Anne was remarkably well educated.
Anne freely expressed commentaries about her life and society. Her writings historically document the life of a Puritan wife as well as the hardships of New England colonial life. Although she did not write with the intention of being published, her family had other ideas.
In 1644, while in England on business, her brother-in-law arranged to have a book of her poems published. After her death, her family published a second book of her poetry which led to her being listed among the prominent poets of her time. The men in her family felt her writings demonstrated a godly and educated woman who elevated the position of wife and mother.
Anne’s poems and writings convey her strong faith, sharp intelligence, and spirited passion. She loved her husband unabashedly, giving her readers a glimpse past the stern Puritan exterior. Anne writes of her husband, “If ever two were one, then surely we . . . .”
Her series of poems titled “Contemplations” is rich with descriptions of nature. She writes of autumn clad trees, “Rapt were my sences at this delectable view.” She advised her son Simon, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant, if we did not some times tast of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
Historians consider Anne an important figure in American literature. Our family considers her an important part of our family tree.
~Deborah K. McDade
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