December 18, 2017
Bradstreet, Berryman, WheatleyOn this day in 1672 Anne Bradstreet, the first published poet of the American colonies, died. Bradstreet enjoyed a relatively privileged life in England, but at the age of eighteen she, her husband, and her parents sailed with John Winthrop for the Puritan settlement at Massachusetts Bay. Her first book of poems, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, was published back in England in 1650 -- by her brother-in-law and apparently without her knowledge, Bradstreet expressing embarrassment that the world should see the "ill-form'd offspring of my feeble brain." These first poems are sometimes candid and immediate, but more often they are conventional in style and on accepted topics -- her love for husband, children, God, etc. Later poems can show a different attitude, one far from embarrassment:
Who sayes, my hand a needle better fits,
A Poets Pen, all scorne, I should thus wrong;
For such despighte they cast on female wits:
If what i doe prove well, it wo'nt advance,
They'l say its stolen, or else, it was by chance.
up in the wet. Milky crestings, fringed
yellow, in heaven, eyed
by the melting hand-in-hand or mere
desirers single, heavy-footed, rapt,
make surge poor human hearts. Venus is trapt--
the hefty pike shifts, sheer--
in Orion blazing. Warblings, odours, nudge to an edge--
"Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their colour is a diabolic die."
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin'd and join th'angelic train.
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