Anne Bradstreet: Poems

Anne Bradstreet and Struggles to Conform

Anne Dudley Bradstreet was America's first published poet. Cotton Mather described her as: "a gentlewoman whose extraction and estate were considerable." She was an intelligent, well-educated poet, wife, and mother, who contradicted almost all of the stereotypes about stiff, cold Puritans. She used her talents to promote women's rights, to describe life as a Puritan woman in colonial America, and to let her husband and children know how much she loved them. Some historians have said that Anne described her own work as lowly, meanly clad, poor, ragged, foolish, broken, and blemished to appease critical males. It was the support of her family and friends who encouraged her to continue the struggle despite incredible societal pressure and rigorous odds.

Her poems dealt with the hardships of life in the early settlements, the Puritan religion, and in subtle ways, the role of women in those times. Because she was a woman, her work was strongly criticized, and some believed that she stole the ideas for her writing from men. In her earlier works, Bradstreet wrote in the style of male authors that she admired. She was careful about expressing her true feelings, and this limited her abilities. She wrote for her own...

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