Anne Bradstreet c. 1612-1672

Cheryl Walker, Scripps College


Anne Bradstreet was a Puritan, an American, a woman, and a poet—four facts that greatly affect the way we read her work. As the Puritan struggled with her worldliness, the American took a lively interest in the contemporary scene; as the woman argued against the aspersions cast upon her sex, the poet transcended them and made her craft her glory. There can be no doubt that the tension generated by these conflicting roles is present in her work. But one should not overvalue the tension at the expense of acknowledging that her best poetry achieves at least a literary resolution of the conflict. As a Puritan, American, woman poet, Anne Bradstreet remains one of the two most interesting seventeenth-century verse writers in America. It is not surprising, therefore, that her successor Edward Taylor is said to have kept only one book of poetry in his library: hers.