It was so pleasing to find out that New England’s first published writer in the colonies was a woman named Anne Bradstreet. Anne was born in March of 1612 in England, but later immigrated to Massachusetts. Anne was a Puritan, was well educated, knew several languages and wrote poetry. She published several books containing her poems.
The book I read by her is called “To My Husband and Other Poems”, and I loved it! The way she describes the love she has for her husband in several different poems is just magical. She misses him, she longs for him, she aches for him! Oh what beauty in her words! She is a woman who loves being married. She is a woman very well settled in her role as wife. She is satisfied in her husband and in her life and in her faith and the words and rhyme she uses embrace her station. There are also poems to her God, and His attributes. And sadly there are poems she wrote expressing the pain of losing children and then grandchildren. She does so well in representing her feelings perfectly, not forcing or clashing words in her rhyme. The flow of her words are pure and fluid and I could feel her sadness, love or joy in her poems.
Unfortunately due to Hollywood and other forms of entertainment, Puritans are painted in a very stoic and gray light. This is so not so with Mrs. Bradstreet. On the contrary, she is explosive in her adjectives and full of heart and raw emotions in her writings. She is passionate and intimate in her relationships. She is boisterous in her praise of God. She is free in her worship, free in her love for her husband, children and family and free to express herself in her losses and gains. Nothing in her poetry gave me the feeling of a timid woman oppressed by her circumstances. Nothing in her writings was suppressed or muted.
I recommend this book to any one who loves poetry or wants to see into the life of a Puritan woman. Mrs. Bradstreet mainly writes about her life. This book is like a journal in poetry form.
I leave you with this sigh-inducing poem by her:
To My Loving Husband
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.