Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Puritan Poet Anne Bradstreet c.1612-1672


To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd 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 recompence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee maniford I pray.
Then while we live, in love lets so presever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Anne Bradstreet was born in England, in 1612. As the daughter of Thomas Dudley, a steward of the Earl of Lincoln, & Dorothy Yorke, she was a well-educated woman learning history, several languages, and literature. At the age of 16 she married Simon Bradstreet. Both Anne's father & husband would serve as governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Anne, her husband, and her parents immigrated to America aboard the Arbella as part of the Winthrop Fleet of Puritan emigrants in 1630. Despite poor health including tuberculosis & eventual joint paralysis, she had 8 children and achieved a comfortable social standing in the Massachusettes Bay Colony.

She was the first notable American poet, and the first woman to be published in colonial America. Her work was influential to Puritans in her time and is read today for its religious insights.

In 1666, fire burned down the Bradstreet home which contained 800 of Anne's books. Shortly afterward she lost a son and a daughter. But her will remained strong, and she found peace in the firm belief that her children were in heaven.

Believing that all gifts come from God, Ann wrote of the fire,

"And when I could no longer look,
I blest his grace that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so 'twas just.
It was his own; it was not mine.
Far be it that I should repine."

Anne Bradstreet died on September 16, 1672, in Andover, Massachusetts, at the age of 60.