Additional Background:
• Husband and father were governors of Massachusetts
• Father in law was Puritan minister

http://books.google.com/books?id=Fs_Lpfi0ABoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=poetry+%22abstraction%22+%22conventional+sentiments%22#PPR10,M1

http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/bradtaylor.htm


Bradstreet, "A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Public Employment" (272)

1. What is the controlling image of the first six lines? In what ways does it set the stage for the expression of the poem's other sentiments? Would you describe this image as conventional or unconventional? Where does it recur in the poem?
Controlling image: Two persons forming one body.
It sets the stage for the expression of the poem’s other sentiments. She cannot forebear the pains of his departure and the urgency for a quick return is made clear.
Habitual devotion. It is unconventional.

2. Lines 7 and 8 introduce several new patterns of imagery that extend throughout the poem. What allusion to classical myth do these lines introduce?
Hyperion--

3. Who is the "Sun" in this poem? Think about the kinds of associations that this word typically evokes and its use in earlier writers (Shakespeare, for example): Sun/Son.
Her husband is compared to Hyperion, the Greek god of the Sun, in taking its astronomical course in the zodiac, which is the belt of the heavens followed by the sun, and contains the paths of the principal planets that are known as the signs of the zodiac.

4. Discuss the complex relationship in this poem between compass directions (Ipswich/Boston, north/south), seasons of the year, and signs of the Zodiac. Does Bradstreet use paradox to convey her meaning?
Anne uses paradox to convey her meaning, not only in terms of the complex relationships between compass directions, seasons of the year—stressing conflicting images of “warmth” and “cold”, “stay, and go”

5. In what ways might this be considered a surprising poem for a Puritan woman to write? Does it celebrate the body?
A surprising poem for a Puritan woman to write. Celebrates the body together with sensuous longing for a husband’s arrival. It sounds a bit too open for a Puritan women.




Bradstreet, "Before the Birth of One of Her Children"

1. Why would Bradstreet have felt it necessary to write this kind of poem? Why is childbirth associated with death?
Tribute poem in memorial of childbirth. Anne would have felt I necessary to write this kind of poem because procreation is the most congenital feminine trait. She associated childbirth with death to achieve a paradoxical effect. There is also the present danger of death at labor time.

2. What is the movement of the poem? From abstraction and conventional sentiments to specific and individual experiences? From experience to conventional consolation?
It is from the opening lines until line 18 that the poem moves from abstraction and conventional sentiments to specific and individual experiences. Here she addresses her not-yet-born child in a motherly tone in case they are not meant to live together. She urges her would-be child in these farewell lines to remember her virtues and love in case death comes in between.

3. In what ways does Bradstreet use paradox and negation in lines 10-12?
The paradox that occurs in lines 10-12 is brought into play to stress negation. Though they seem united, being in her womb, death has something has something else to say. In effect, she won’t be his or her “thinc.” However it is from line 19 and foreword that the poem moves from experience to conventional consolation.

4. What are her requests? Why does she juxtapose abstract sentiments with specific statements about "stepdame's injury"?
She juxtaposes abstract sentiments with specific statements about “stepdame’s injury.” The effect of such statements evokes down to earth experience and voices a feminine dread of a certainty of future replaces once she is dead. The juxtaposition intensifies the situation and adds to its credibility.

5. Why does Bradstreet use the term "remains" for her children? What several meanings does this word have?
The word carries connotative meanings indicating, among her babes, her relics or leftovers.

6. Discuss lines 25-28 and their use of time. Do they represent a synchretic moment in which the past is brought into the present (like Keats's poem "This living hand, now warm and capable")?
In lines 25-28 these is remarkable use of time. Here, a synchronized moment, in which the past is brought into the present, operates successfully.

7. In what ways does Bradstreet make use of these analogies and paradoxes? Body/paper, present body/absent body, works or poems/ children, present time/future time, life/death, fresh memory/oblivious grave, body/spirit.


A Preface to Colonial American Poetry: A Study in the Poetry of the Age in Relation to American History and Literature
By Wisam Khalid Abdul Jabbar
Published by iUniverse, 2005
ISBN 0595343287, 9780595343287
264 pages

Burning of Our House
• Poem expresses the blackened ruins of the house.
• The opening of the poem carries an element of surprise—sets the rest of the poem in animation.
• Resorts to her Lord for help
• Tone of surrender is accentuated. Bereavement becomes praradoxically a blessed gain. The Puritan dogmatic faith is asserted and expressed in terms of a compliant capitulation.
• Cataloguing in lines 30-35—gratifying… it serves to overrate the damage and thus overstress the sense of loss. The minute details of daily, domestic activities are, therefore, counted and recalled. All endearing things are gone. The moment where the common seems rare is captured.
• Like a meditation, the poem has three distinct movements or parts. The first is the poet’s immediate reaction to the fire incident. She does not panic and feels it in her heart, that God will not abandon her. In the second ten lines, Anne puts her trust in the ways of the Lord. Loss is only a reminder of the earlier blessing. He initially gave the things that were taken. The last section is an accentuation of submission to heavenly will. Compensation is inevitable but unearthly. The three parts of course contribute to the poet’s acceptance of her loss in terms of the exercise of self-control, patience, and compliance. Anne takes comforts in conventional Christian sentiments such as “I blest His name that gave and took” or “It was His own, it was not mine” which are not forced as much as instinctively turned to for consolation.
• The tragic occasion in the poem is seized and given a theological dimension.