Puritan vs Self in Anne Bradstreet’s poems
As per our last discussion in class about Anne Bradstreet’s poetry, it intrigued me that in some of the poems Anne sort of struggles between her Puritan tenets and her own human and individualistic wants/needs. Anne gives us a glimpse of how she lives through her deep Puritan commitment. I found this to be a very interesting dynamic that Anne goes back and forth with throughout her poetry.
In “Before the Birth of One of Her Children”, Anne at first speaks to her husband about how death happens to everyone and could end their marriage possibly soon, but to refrain from being resentful about something that God has power over and has intended. But then she continues to write requests for her husband- to remember her “kindly” and to still love her, to be remembered through her children and protect them from their stepmother. Anne imagines a life for her husband after she is gone. She associates the poem with herself, as a sort of a relic that her husband can remember her by. So, even though Anne accepts her possible death with birth and knows that it is God’s “Providence” if it happens, she makes sure she gets a clear message to her husband to always remember her and to make sure her children are taken care of. This makes me think about how difficult it probably was at the time to follow the Puritan way but also be true to yourself-or to act like a human being sometimes. Anne shows us how although she tries to abide by her Puritan way of life yet at times she can’t help but revert back to her human condition and hold individualistic and selfish feelings. Anne lets us into a deeper part of her psyche. We would think nothing of it if we faced death to tell our spouse to always love us and not never forget us in any way. But if we had Puritan tenets to “guide” us through life- we would probably be more hesitant to say so. Kudos to Anne for being a bit brave and letting us know how she really feels about her possible death.