The Tenth Muse: An Anne Bradstreet Rhapsody
Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was part of a small group of women writers in an era that demanded silence and obedience as cardinal virtues for women. She and her husband were part of the great Puritan migration from England to the “New World” in the 1620s and 1630s, and both her husband, Thomas Dudley (celebrated in several of her poems), and her husband, Simon Bradstreet, served as governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her poetry demonstrates what was considered proper womanly modesty in downplaying her abilities, but it also asserts her individual voice as an author. In “The Prologue,” for example, she writes of her “mean pen” and “obscure lines,” and is deferential to male poets. Yet she also shows a keen awareness of how her gender plays into her role as a writer: “I am obnoxious to each carping tongue / Who says my hand a needle better fits. / A Poet’s Pen all scorn I should thus wrong, / For such despite they cast on female wits. / If what I do prove well, it won’t advance, / They’ll say it’s stol’n, or else it was by chance.” Far from being scorned, Bradstreet’s writing was well-respected in her own time, and she became the first woman writer to be published in both England and America. Her first collected works, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, was published in England without her consent by her brother-in-law in 1650. The later authorized edition was published posthumously in 1678. Her writing shows that she was well-educated and well-read, concerned with the literature and politics of her day, but also reflects the challenges of early colonial life in America. Despite her roles as loving wife and mother to eight children, Bradstreet nonetheless found the time to become one of the most important early American poets.
1. To her most honored father.
2. The prologue.
3. A Dialogue between Old England and New.
4. An Elegy upon Sir Philip Sidney.
5. In honor of Du Bartas.
6. In honor of Queen Elizabeth.
7. David’s Lamentation.
8. To the Memory of My Father.
9. An Epitaph on my Mother.
11. The Flesh and the Spirit.
12. The Vanity of All Worldly Things.
13. The Author to Her Book.
14. Upon a Fit of Sickness.
15. Before the Birth of One of Her Children.
16. To my Dear and Loving Husband.
17. By night, when others soundly slept…
18. Upon my son Samuel his going for England.
19. On my son’s return out of England.
20. In my solitary hours.
21. As weary pilgrim, now at rest…
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