Anne Bradstreet was a wife and mother, devote Puritan, a scholar, and America's first published poet. She wrote poems covering history, current events, science, nature, religion, death, and women's rights. She also wrote some of the most beautiful and most passionate love poems ever written. Her poetry has influenced many poets since her time, most notably Emily Dickinson. She was a woman ahead of her time, with a gift for words.
Of all of her many subjects, she wrote more often about the love she had for her husband than about any other subject. The number of poems written to the other members of her family (children, parents, daughter-in-law) are almost equal to the number of poems she wrote to her husband.
After her husband, Anne's favorite subject was her children and grandchildren. Sadly, many of these poems are elugies. Four of Simon Bradstreet Jr.'s children died in succession, and his wife, Mercy, died shortly after the last child. The loss of five members of her family in so short a time was hard on Anne, as her poems reveal. Yet, she always concludes by recalling that she will see her loved ones again someday in Heaven.
For those who come to Anne Bradstreet's poetry expecting a stiff-necked, cool "Puritan", you'll be surprised to learn that she was far from the stereotypical Puritan...
Only one book, "The Tenth Muse" was published in Anne's life time, but she wrote almost two hundred poems. She wrote for her family and herself ("The Tenth Muse" was published without her knowledge), and her poems give modern day readers insight into what it was like to be a 17th century Puritan woman. She wrote on a remarkably broad base of topics, and used a number of different forms for her poetry...
For further reading on Anne Bradstreet and the Puritan culture visit:
A study of Anne Bradstreet's poetry, left offer from another class's studies.
ANNE DUDLEY BRADSTREET
Encarata Encylopedia biography and links to Puritanism, Calvinism, and other related topics.
Puritans in Colonial America
The Palo Alto College website for Colonial American studies. The site contains essays and possible source material, for those willing to read through them.
The difinitive source on the web for anything dealing with Puritan or Reform writing and culture. There is a lot of material to go through, but the rewards are worth it for anyone with the patience to sift through the mound information.
This site contains a variety of Puritan and Reform literature. A great site for those doing comparision projects with literature of that time period.
For anyone interested in seeing some of Anne's poems covering topics other than family, stop here for poems, as well as background information on those poems.