Anne Bradstreet

Anglo-American poet (1612-1672)

Anne Bradstreet (March 20, 1612 – September 16, 1672) was the most prominent of early English poets of North America and first writer in England's North American colonies to be published. She is the first Puritan figure in American Literature and notable for her large corpus of poetry, as well as personal writings published posthumously.

Anne Bradstreet
Title page, second (posthumous) edition of Bradstreet's poems, 1678


  • If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none;
    And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,
    Which caus'd her thus to send thee out of door.
    • The Author to Her Book.
  • What to my Saviour shall I give
    Who freely hath done this for me?
    I'll serve him here whilst I shall live
    And Loue him to Eternity
    • By Night when Others Soundly Slept.
  • A Spring returns, and they more youthful made;
    But Man grows old, lies down, remains where once he's laid.
    • Contemplations.
  • "Sister," quoth Flesh, "what liv'st thou on
    Nothing but Meditation?
    • The Flesh and the Spirit.
  • Such cold mean flowers the spring puts forth betime,
    Before the sun hath thoroughly heat the clime.
    • Of the Four Ages of Man.
  • Leave not thy nest, thy dam and sire,
    Fly back and sing amidst this choir.
    • In Reference to her Children, 23 June 1659.
  • 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.
    • To my Dear and Loving Husband.
  • The principal might yield a greater sum,
    Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb;
    • To Her Father with Some Verses.

Meditations Divine and Moral (1664)

  • Youth is the time of getting, middle age of improving, and old age of spending.
    • 3.
  • Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.
    • 12.
  • If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
    • 14.
  • Fire hath its force abated by water, not by wind; and anger must be allayed by cold words, and not by blustering threats.
    • 43.

Quotes about Anne Bradstreet

  • Anne Bradstreet wrote seven thousand lines of verse and most of it is derivative, unremarkable, sometimes even soporific, although her best is very good indeed; and her real achievements in poetry have not been duly recognized for almost three hundred years. But in greatness of spirit, generosity of outlook, love for learning as a path toward truth; in their quick responsive delight in the everyday wonder of the world and their deeply devout faith in the goodness of God, Anne Bradstreet and Juana Inés de la Cruz-the one a Puritan, the other a Roman Catholic-were very close akin. Remarking upon the brevity of human life, Anne Bradstreet wrote, "And though thus short, we shorten many ways, / Living so little while we are alive"; and Sor Juana said, "Angels are higher than men because they understand more."
    • Muna Lee (writer) "Two Seventeenth-Century Pen-Women: Anne Bradstreet of Massachusetts and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz of Mexico" address before the Biennial Convention of the National League of American Pen-Women, Pan American Union, Washington, D.C., April 10, 1954. Included in A Pan-American Life: Selected Poetry and Prose of Muna Lee edited by Jonathan Cohen (2004)
  • Anne Bradstreet's sweet-tempered moderation can be read as ironic or conformist, but the significant fact is that she persisted all her life in working and publishing as a poet. At what cost to herself and her art can only be surmised. As Adrienne Rich observed: "To have written poems, the first good poems in America, while rearing eight children, lying frequently sick, keeping house at the edge of wilderness, was to have managed a poet's range and extension within confines as severe as any American poet has confronted."
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