Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Author to Her Book - Anne Bradstreet

Thou ill-form'd 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, expos'd to publick view,
Made thee in raggs, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judg).
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 wash'd thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a sport, still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joynts to make thee even fet,
Yet still thou run'st more hobbling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun Cloth, i' th' house I find.
In this array 'mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam.
In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst known,
If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,
Which casu'd her thus to send thee out of door.

I am sympathetic to Anne Bradstreet here, as she frets over the book of poetry she has published.  It's like a child to her, and though it is full of flaws, she loves it, but feels that no matter how much she tries to polish or mend it, she cannot make it free from blemish.  It wasn't even her idea to publish, to hear her tell it, but some friends, who brought her verses from Massachusetts (where Bradstreet lived until her death in 1672) to London,  In reality, her poetry was very well received in London, and today, she stands as one of the most important and esteemed poets of the early American poets.  In the end, despite her misgivings, she allowed the book to publish and sell, as she needed money.  I'd say it worked out well for all of us.

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