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2023 Anne Bradstreet Poetry Contest - Announcement and Rules

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Anne Bradstreet - An Intro To Her Poetry

An intro to Anne's poetry with links to her poems
plus selected verses from some of her famous poems  
(including a guide and worksheet for early elementary grades)

Anne Bradstreet was the first person to be recognized as an accomplished New World Poet. Her volume of poetry The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America received considerable favorable attention when it was first published in London in 1650. Eight years after it appeared it was listed by William London in his Catalogue of the Most Vendible Books in England, and George III is reported to have had the volume in his library. Bradstreet's work has endured, and she is still considered to be one of the most important early American poets.
Anne's poetry was shaped by her Puritan beliefs and life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her poetry gives the reader a chance to understand the push and pull of the world of an educated and intelligent Puritan woman. Anne's contentment in her home life and her deep love and commitment to her family seem sometimes at odds with her feminist beliefs and lack of fervor for some elements of Puritanism. And yet she remained dedicated to Puritan religious ideals throughout her life.

Her skill and attention to meter as well as her evocative syntax brought attention to her poetry at time when there were few celebrated female poets. As she grew older, her poetry became more natural and her subject centered around her life as a Puritan mother and wife in the new Massachusetts Bay Colony. 

Throughout her life Bradstreet was concerned with the issues of sin and redemption, physical and emotional frailty, death and immortality. Much of her work indicates that she had a difficult time resolving the conflict she experienced between the pleasures of the senses and family experience against the promises of heaven. As a Puritan she struggled to subdue her attachment to the world, but as a woman she sometimes felt more strongly connected to her husband, children, and community than to God.

Links to Anne's Poetry:

Student Guide and Worksheet 
for early elementary school grades

Selections from a few of Anne's poems:
To sing of Wars, of Captains, and of Kings,
Of Cities founded, Common-wealths begun, 
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.
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 had eight birds hatcht in one nest 
Four Cocks were there, and Hens the rest.
I nurst them up with pain and care,
No cost nor labour did I spare
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the Trees and learned to sing.
In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I wakened was with thund’ring noise
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.
That fearful sound of “fire” and “fire,”
Let no man know is my Desire.
Then, coming out, behold a space
The flame consume my dwelling place.
And when I could no longer look,
I blest His name that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just.
Under the cooling shadow of a stately Elm
Close sate I by a goodly Rivers side,
Where gliding streams the Rocks did overwhelm;
A lonely place, with pleasures dignifi’d.
I once that lov’d the shady woods so well,
Now thought the rivers did the trees excel,
And if the sun would ever shine, there would I dwell.

First page of her books as published in 1650 and 1678.

Anne Bradstreet: A Short History

Anne's History - more links: 
Valley of the Poets - Karen M. Kline - Local Poetry and the Arts 



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