Anne Bradstreet's poem, The Author to her Book, is a twenty-four-line metaphor comparing the relationship of an author and her writings to the relationship between a parent and a child. The meaning of this lighthearted poem can clearly be seen as she traces the growth of a piece of work to the growth of the child. The significance of the poem, however, lies in the fact that this poem is a glimpse of the emotions felt by Anne Bradstreet an American female poet, and how it conflicts with the puritan society that frowns upon her appreciation of her talents and role as a poet. To clearly see all aspects that surround the interpretation of her poetry it is necessary to look at biographical information surrounding the life of Anne Bradstreet. Background knowledge gained previous to writing this annotation can be found at http://shenessex.heartland.net/local/scs/shs/faculty/dickerson/term197class/Jill/Bradstreet.html
The lines below are annotated to explain how Bradstreet develops her metaphor as well as how it relates specifically to her life.
The Author to her Book
Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
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...roduced a piece of work and even though she may be wealthy through her husband, she is poor, and like any poet wants to profit from what she has created.
Bradstreet is often titled as the first American poet. This title is a hard one to determine, not only because it is difficult to say who is first, but because it is hard to decide what makes a poet American. Since the colonies were founded many poets were writing on American soil, so does that make them American poets? It does not seem right to allow them such an honor if they still conform to European styles. Anne Bradstreet, however, earns the title because she makes the transition from being English and living in America, to being American. The shift is described in The Author to her Book, where she disturbs her European roles as a Puritan and a woman, and comes out looking, instead, the part of an American.
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