Copyright

Anne Bradstreet: Poems and Biography Video

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Phillis Wheatley: African Poetry in America

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:07 America's First Poet
  • 1:10 Upon the Burning...
  • 3:50 In Honor...
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Anne Bradstreet was America's first published poet. Her poems both upheld and criticized the Puritan faith that she was a part of. In this lesson, we'll look closer at two of Anne Bradstreet's poems and their relationship with Puritanism.

America's First Poet

Anne Bradstreet was a famous poet from the 17th century. She is the first American poet and the first female poet to be published both in England and America. Bradstreet was born in England, where her father worked as an administrator for an earl. Her parents made sure that she was educated while growing up, more so than most women of the time. She met and married Simon Bradstreet and then moved to America in 1630, along with Simon and her parents.

The Bradstreets moved to what is today Massachusetts. Later, both her father and husband would be governors of Massachusetts, and they were instrumental in founding Harvard University.

Like many of the other settlers in the area, Bradstreet belonged to a devout Protestant community called the Puritans. Among other things, the Puritans believed in predestination, or the idea that God controls the world and the people in it. Every situation, good or bad, was seen as being part of God's plan. Let's take a look at two of Bradstreet's poems and how her religious beliefs informed her writing.

Upon the Burning of Our House was inspired by a real-life event.
Verses Upon the Burning of Our House

Upon the Burning...

One of Bradstreet's most famous poems is called 'Verses Upon the Burning of our House'. As you might have guessed from the title, this particular poem was written after a fire destroyed the Bradstreets' house in 1666, leaving them with no home and no possessions.

The poem is very long. It begins with a description of Bradstreet waking up to a fire. She escapes and then turns to look at the house as it burns. As she watches all of her belongings go up in smoke, she writes:

And when I could no longer look,

I blest His grace that gave and took,

That laid my goods now in the dust.

Yea, it was so, and so 'twas just.

It was His own; it was not mine.

Far be it that I should repine,

He might of all justly bereft

But yet sufficient for us left.

Notice that, at a point when she loses all of her worldly possessions, she clings to her faith. She even says that she blesses God's grace and comforts herself with the idea that the belongings now burning belong to God, not to her. Of course, being human, Bradstreet does feel some grief. Later in the poem, she talks of going back to the scene of the fire later and being upset when she thinks about all she's lost. Yet she reminds herself:

Then straight I 'gin my heart to chide:

And did thy wealth on earth abide,

Didst fix thy hope on moldering dust,

The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?

Raise up thy thoughts above the sky

That dunghill mists away may fly.

Thou hast a house on high erect

Fram'd by that mighty Architect,

With glory richly furnished

Stands permanent, though this be fled.

Bradstreet reveals her Puritan faith in much of her writing.
Puritan Illustration

Here, she's telling herself that her earthly possessions are not nearly as important to Bradstreet as the riches that she'll encounter in Heaven. In fact, she says her earthly house is nothing compared to the house in Heaven that is waiting for her, having been built by 'that mighty Architect,' God.

As you can see, Bradstreet's faith played a key role in troubling times like when she lost her house. This was common among Puritans, whose belief in predestination meant that they were able to face hard knocks with the faith that it was part of God's plan.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support