Anne Bradstreet Poem Analysis

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Anne Bradstreet’s Strategic Use of the Rhetoric of Modesty Writing in seventeenth century New England presented itself to be difficult; the society was so deeply rooted in puritanism, that any form of arrogance or blaspheme would inevitably lead to disgrace. Therefore, it was common for writers to use a modest rhetoric, thereby aiming to pre-empt imminent criticism. Anne Bradstreet, a woman writing in Puritan New England likewise attended to this propriety, often denouncing her own works. Nevertheless, it can be questioned whether this humility was always sincere. According to Stanford, an apology for lack of skill was a device present in much poetry of her [Bradstreet] time” (63). It may even have been used as manipulative device. Therefore,…show more content…
Bradstreet, in this poem, pre-empts critics in the first four stanzas by repeatedly stating her inferiority. In the first stanza she states that, writing epic poetry is much too lofty for her “mean pen” (l. 3). Consistently focusing on the irreparable flaws of her poetry, in the third stanza articulating that, no “no rhet’ric we expect” (l. 13) from her as a female poet. However, according to Stanford, this approach changes halfway through the poem: “in the last four stanzas, she defies her critics, not without a conciliatory bow to the preeminence of men” (65). No longer claiming her own incapability, instead blaming her male critics by saying that: “If what I do prove well, it won’t advance / They’ll say it’s stol’n, or else it was by chance” (ll. 25-26). Thereby expressing the powerless position they have put her in. Henton states that Bradstreet made “a declaration that demonstrates both how cognizant and how resentful she is of the limitations und which the female poet labours” (305). Using compelling imagery as, “my hand a needle better fits” (l. 26), to express the stereotypical role of women in Puritan times, critics pressured her to take on. Day-Lindsey claims: “To have been a Puritan in colonial America was to agree to a firm set of rules regarding daily life and to have been a Puritan woman meant that the rules were even more abundant and strict” (66). Bradstreet’s defiant tone in the…show more content…
In this poem, written in 1666 and published posthumously in 1678, Bradstreet “treats her poetry anthropomorphically by comparing it with a child” (Day-Lindsey, 66). Using imagery of motherhood to disclose her emotional disposition towards her poetry. Day-Lindsey states that the first six lines of the poem “call attention to the defects in her book, compared with the features of a deformed newborn” (68). Bradstreet frantically tries to improve on the flaws of her offspring, using compelling maternal imagery: “I washed thy face” (l. 13) and “nought save homespun cloth i’ th’ house I find” (l. 18). The poem, additionally, defining a mother’s perpetual love for her child: “Yet being my own, at length affection would / Thy blemishes amend” (ll. 11-12). This poem, nevertheless, does not play on women’s inferiority as “The Prologue” does, instead, it: “conveys the anxiety of Puritan women who feared (not only an abnormal childbirth, but also) the public castigation of her motivation and influences” (Day-Lindsey, 68). Choosing no culprit to lay blame on for the flaws in her poetry, instead, Day-Lindsey claims “The Author to Her Book”: “is filled with a degree of shame, guilt, and fear of repercussions” (68). There is a real dissimilarity in tone from “The Prologue”, in this instance; Bradstreet does not

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