Anne Bradstreet

Comments & Themes


  • Puritan theology dictated that the love of God be placed above one's love for any other earthly concern, including family and friends. What indications of a possible "resistance" to that dictate can you find in Bradstreet's poems written to her husband or those commemorating the death of her grandchildren?
  • Even though the Puritans advocated the use of "plain style" in their writing, it is clear that Anne Bradstreet composed her poems primarily for herself and for the people around her. We can find quite a few extra-Puritan literary influences in her poetry. For example, how is her development of the metaphors in "A Letter to Her Husband, ºAbsent upon Public Employment" reminiscent of the English Metaphysical Poets?
  • What differences in tone and attitude can you detect over the course of the three poems written in memory of her dead grandchildren? What reasons can you think of to account for these differences?
  • How many indications of a close adherence to the tenets of Puritan belief, or the Puritan conscience, can you find in "Here Follow Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10th, 1666"?
  • The Puritans were very sensitive to the beauties of the natural world, since it had been created by God. However, nature also fell into time with the fall of Adam and Eve, and therefore represents the mortality of all living things. "Contemplations" is both a celebration of the beauty of the world and an expression of Calvinist dogma. Stanza 33 contains the tacitly required Puritan moral of the poem. What is that moral and how does it apply to the rest of the poem?
  • How many individual aspects of the natural world does Bradstreet describe and praise in "Contemplations"? What references to the Bible does make? And what references does she make to Greek mythology?
  • In what ways does Bradstreet's work - its themes, subject matter, standpoint, attitudes, role of the poetic self - look forward to later American poetry, and especially to later women poets?