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Anne Bradstreet Day

Anne Bradstreet was the first accomplished woman poet in the New World and is seen as being one of the most important early American poets. In her work, she expressed her fondness for the craft of writing and spoke to the religious and emotional conflicts she felt as a female writer and Puritan. Today we celebrate her on the anniversary of her death, which took place in 1672.

Born Anne Dudley in 1612, on an unknown date, Bradstreet was educated by her father, a lover of books. She married Simon Bradstreet in 1628, and traveled with him and her parents to the New World in 1630, to Salem, Massachusetts. She had eight children between 1633 and 1652, and the family lived in a few cities, before finally settling in North Andover, Massachusetts, in 1845. Her earliest existing poem, "Upon a Fit of Sickness, Anno. 1632," speaks of the shortness of life, certainty of death, and hope for salvation.

The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, a poetry volume published in 1650, contained many poems Bradstreet had written between 1635 and 1645. The book was the first full volume by a single author in the New World and was popular both there and in Britain. Many critics, who did not see women as being fit for writing poetry at the time, were surprised with the level of intelligence and wit in it. Some of the more noteworthy poems in it include four long poems known as the quaternions: "The Four Elements," "The Four Humors of Man," "The Four Ages of Man," and "The Four Seasons." Some other noteworthy poems in it are "A Dialogue between Old England and New" and "The Four Monarchies."

A second, expanded edition of The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America was released in 1678, not many years after Bradstreet's death. It contains poems such as "Before the Birth of One of Her Children" and "Contemplations." The latter is seen as one of her best poems; it examines the tussle between love of the world and a desire for eternal life. On Anne Bradstreet Day, we read these and other of Bradstreet's poems, and celebrate her significance and importance to American poetry.

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