Forgotten Founding Mother

I first discovered the poetry of Anne Bradstreet in my American Literature class in high school. Since then I have always loved her poetry and her story and life have been an inspiration to me! I thought since we are nearing Thanksgiving, that a little look at one of our often times forgotten founding mothers would be a great way to prepare for the holiday.

Not many people have heard of Anne Bradstreet and it is a pity, because she along with her husband, father and family played a huge role in the beginning sentences of American history. Anne Dudley was born in 1612 in England. She grew up a very well bred, cultured and educated young woman. She along with her family were Puritans with a strong and unshakable faith. At the young age of sixteen, Anne married Simon Bradstreet. Theirs was a long and very happy marriage blessed with eight children. Anne was a very good mother and a sweet and loving wife.

Simon and Anne Bradstreet traveled to America with her family in 1630. They were part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and upon arriving settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Anne and Simon moved many times within the vicinity of Massachusetts and it was in America that Anne wrote most of her poetry. Both her husband and her father were active in the colony and helped to found Harvard in 1636. Anne died in 1672 at the age of 60.

One of the most amazing things about Anne Bradstreet is that, as a busy wife and mother, she still found time to write poetry! She was an amazing and very thoughtful poet whose poems often ran on the topics of religion, marriage and the politics of her time. Not only was she a poet though, but a published poet which was very unusual in her time. Her one book of poetry was published secretly by her brother-in-law and called “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, by a Gentlewoman of those Parts”. Anne did not like that some one had published her poetry, but eventually accepted it and even wrote a poem to her book!

The Author to Her Book

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did’st by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call.
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save homespun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ‘mongst Vulgars may’st thou roam.
In critic’s hands beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known;
If for thy Father asked, say thou hadst none;
And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.

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