A Woman's Pen by Anne Bradstreet

Anne Dudley Bradstreet (c. 1612/13–1672) married in 1628 and migrated to Massachusetts with him and her family, the Dudleys, in 1630. Both her father, , and her husband became governors of the colony. This extremely talented woman, who was well-educated and encouraged by her family, wrote some of the most sophisticated poetry that is still in existence from the seventeenth century. She composed these pieces even as she raised a family and helped build a community in the wilderness. Bradstreet published a book of formal poetry, The Tenth Muse, in 1650, but also wrote lyrical poetry that was published after her death. Much of the latter relates to her family, showing her great love for her parents, spouse, and eight children.

In the prologue to The Tenth Muse (1650)

* * * I am obnoxious to each carping tongue, Who sayes, my hand a needle better fits, A Poets Pen, all scorne, I should thus wrong; For such despight they cast on female wits: If what I doe prove well, it wo'nt advance, They'l say its stolne, or else, it was by chance.

From Several Poems (posthumous publication, 1678)

To the Memory of my dear and ever honoured Father Thomas Dudley Esq; Who deceased, July 31, 1653. and of his Age, 77.

* * * Well known and lov'd, where ere he liv'd, by most Both in his native, and in foreign coast, These to the world his merits could make known, So needs no Testimonial from his own; But now or never I must pay my Sum; While others tell his worth, I'le not be dumb: One of thy Founders, him New- know, Who staid thy feeble sides when thou wast low, Who spent his state, his strength, & years with care That After-comers in them might have share. True Patriot of this little Commonweal, Who is't can tax thee ought, but for thy zeal? Truths friend thou wert, to errors still a foe, Which caus'd Apostates to maligne so. Thy love to true Religion e're shall shine, My Fathers God, be God of me and mine.

* * * No ostentation seen in all his wayes, As in the mean ones, of our foolish dayes, Which all they have, and more still set to view, Their greatness may be judg'd by what they shew. His thoughts were more sublime, his actions wise, Such vanityes he justly did despise. Nor wonder 'twas, low things ne'r much did move For he a Mansion had, prepar'd above, For which he sigh'd and pray'd & long'd full sore He might be cloath'd upon, for evermore.

* * * An Epitaph

On my dear and ever honoured Mother Mrs. Dorothy Dudley, Who deceased Decemb. 27. 1643. and of her age, 61.

Here lyes, A worthy Matron of unspotted life, A loving Mother and obedient wife, A friendly Neighbor, pitiful to poor, Whom oft she fed, and clothed with her store: To Servants wisely aweful, but yet kind, And as they did, so they reward did find: A true Instructer of her Family, The which she ordered with dexterity. The publick meetings ever did frequent, And in her Closet constant hours she spent: Religious in all her words and wayes, Preparing still for death, till end of dayes: Of all her Children, Children, liv'd to see, Then dying, left a blessed memory.

To my Dear and loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we. If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee; If ever wife was happy in a man, Compare with me ye women if you can. I prize thy love more then whole Mines of gold, Or all the riches that the East doth hold. My love is such that Rivers cannot quench, Nor ought but love from thee, give recompence. Thy love is such I can no way repay, The heavens reward thee manifold I pray. Then while we live, in love lets so persever, That when we live no more, we may live ever.

[From Joseph R. McElrath, Jr. and Allan P. Robb, eds., The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet (: Twayne Publishers, 1981), pp. 7, 165–67, 180.]