The poet starts by saying that she is filled with sorrow and afflicted by pain, both inside and out, and none of her flesh is "sound" because God has "rid [her] out." Her flaming flesh sweats and her head aches, and she turns from side to side, faint and speechless. Her soul fills with fear of God's displeasure and she says she cannot read her "Evidence" as she once could.
She calls out to God, asking Him not to hide His face from her and to protect her soul from burning if she dies. He knows her heart and is clearly testing her strength. She begs for His mercy and requests Him to heal her soul. She understands that if her body turns into dust, she will finally appear before Him.
She concludes that He heard her and delivered her from the fever, sparing her frail body. He has showed her His "tender Love" and eased her quaking heart. She praises God for redeeming her "Soul from pitt [sic]."
This short poem is Bradstreet's second exploration of illness after her first extant poem, "Upon a Fit of Sickness." For all of "Deliverance"'s strong Puritan themes, the content is very relatable because the reader can easily understand the pain of being afflicted with a terrible sickness and wondering if the cause is that God is angry or displeased.
The poem begins with Bradstreet describing her suffering. Her flesh is burning, she is sweating, she is filled with pain, and her head aches. She turns from side to side, unable to find a physically comfortable position. Her mental discomfort is parallel to her bodily anguish, and she experiences great turmoil within her soul. She fears that God is displeased with her because she can no longer find evidence of his favor.
When Bradstreet describes "Evidence," it is likely that she is referring to the Puritan understanding of salvation. Puritans believed that one continually searched for evidence of his or her salvation, hoping for a conversion experience that clarified whether or not he or she had been saved. Those Puritans who did undergo conversion experiences were known as "visible saints." By lamenting her inability to read "Evidence," Bradstreet suddenly starts to question the certainty of her salvation.
In her distressed state, she calls upon God, asking Him not to hide from her. She says that only He knows the true contents of her heart. She realizes that if her body is not going heal, then her soul deserves to be saved. If her body falls into dust, her soul must be brought before God in His glory. This kind of thought process would have been comforting for Puritans, who believed that their suffering on Earth was intended to bring them closer to God and reorient their focus on the afterlife.
Fortunately for Bradstreet, as she explains in the last eight lines, she recovers from her fever. God takes his "rod" from her and spares her "frail" body. He shows her grace and love, and she now offers praise to Him for redeeming her body. Puritans accepted whatever challenges befell them as a part of God's plan, and similarly, Bradstreet is relieved that God has delivered her from her fever. Early in the poem, she clearly expresses her fear of God's displeasure and vows to accept her death as a pathway to God's glory, she seems extremely relieved to that He allows her to live. In this poem, Anne Bradstreet reveals her emotional attachment to her life on Earth, which is a common theme in her work.