Untitled Poem (1643, by Anne Bradstreet)
UNTITLED POEM (1643, by Anne Bradstreet)
Anne Dudley Bradstreet was perhaps the most famous and accomplished seventeenth-century Massachusetts Puritan wife and mother. She was born in 1612 in England, immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony along with her husband and parents in the Arbellaunder the leadership of John Winthrop in 1630, and lived and wrote and raised children in Massachusetts until her death in 1672. Married to Simon Bradstreet, a leader of the colony, Anne had no leadership position, but rather lived a domestic life in rural New England. Her intelligence and need to express herself about life, family, and God led her to pen poems for her own (and her family's) pleasure. These were unexpectedly published in London in 1650, titled, "The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America."
Bradstreet's untitled poem, written in 1643, reflects the Puritan preoccupation with morality, character, duty, prayer, and death. Puritan ministers called on their parishioners to imitate the character of Christ in piety, acceptance of one's role and status in life, and charity toward others; to subordinate their own feelings to the will of God, expressed in the authorities of family, government, and church; to engage in constant prayer so to prepare for the inevitability yet unexpectedness of death. Bradstreet's poem reads as an epitaph for her own life and that of many other Puritan matrons of seventeenth-century Massachusetts.
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.
SOURCE: Bradstreet, Anne. "Untitled." In The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America. London: 1650.
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