Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet ( 1612-1672)

Allen continues his 1980 Naropa lectures on Basic Poetics – continuing from here 

AG: Now, naturally, while this is going on, there are all these heavy-handed people chomping and killing the Indians in America, in the name of God! – So, there’s a first..there’s a first gleam, coming over from America  in the middle of the English wit and chaos, there’s Anne Bradstreet, Jones Very (another great poet), Edward Taylor (I don’t think Jones Very and Edward Taylor are here (in our anthology) but there’s a lady, Anne Bradstreet, the first American woman poet (pre-feminist – arf arf!), with a tough mind, and a really great poet actually, but, already, stuck with a God-disease and…however smart about it… So, we’ve got, on page three fifty-four, “The Vanity of Worldly Things” – it’s not great poetry, but it’s alright – and then, more interesting, “A Letter to Her Husband absent upon Public Employment” – Leslie (sic) – do you want to try reading that? – page three fifty-five. Has anybody read this already? – Well,, okay.. well. someone maybe, well, no

[Student (Leslie) proceeds to read the poem]  

“My head, my heart, mine Eyes, my life, nay more,/My joy, my Magazine of earthly store,
If two be one, as surely thou and I,/How stayest thou there, whilst I at Ipswich lye?/So many steps, head from the heart to sever/If but a neck, soon should we be together:/I like the earth this season, mourn in black,/My Sun is gone so far in’s Zodiack/,Whom whilst I ’joy’d, nor storms, nor frosts I felt,/His warmth such frigid colds did cause to melt./My chilled limbs now nummed lye forlorn;/Return, return sweet Sol from Capricorn;/In this dead time, alas, what can I more/Then view those fruits which through thy heat I bore?/Which sweet contentment yield me for a space,/True living Pictures of their Fathers face./O strange effect! now thou art Southward gone,/I weary grow, the tedious day so long;/But when thou Northward to me shalt return,/I wish my Sun may never set, but burn/Within the Cancer of my glowing breast,/The welcome house of him my dearest guest./Where ever, ever stay, and go not thence,/Till natures sad decree shall call thee hence;/Flesh of thy flesh, bone of thy bone,/I here, thou there, yet both but one.”

Well, she’s got a good ear, Anne Bradstreet, a pretty good ear. She’s taking after all the metaphysical poets like. John Donne. It’s a little heavy….[.to Student – but maybe close the windows. (to lessen) the noise? (or) just cool out, anyway]) ] I don’t have much to say about her but I just thought we’d have a little taste, coming over from America. Do you know anything about her, Tom (sic)?…Coming from America, there are a whole bunch of stern poets (well, they are all, I guess, a lot of the Puritans in…), Puritans, and people that were escaping, escaping Suckling-culture, escaping from the riotous orgies of England and the corruption). They went over to America, and so you have Jones Very (who was actually a very elegant poet, if you get to check him out).

{Audio for the above can be heard here. beginning at approximately  twenty-three-and-a-half  minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-seven-and-a-quarter minutes in]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *