Anne Bradstreet may have been America’s first poet. Born in England in 1612, she immigrated to colonial America in 1630, and quietly penned her verses while running a home and struggling to raise eight children. Her words have a poignant introspection, and touches of subtle, self-deprecating humor that provide fresh glimpses into Puritan life.
“The Author to Her Book” is about her chagrin at having learned her work was published without her knowledge or consent, and thus exposed to the critical public. In this poem, she scolds her poetry collection as if it were a beloved, ragamuffin child.
Happy Mother’s Day, Anne Bradstreet. If anyone deserved a bouquet of flowers and brunch with mimosas, it was you!
The Author to Her Book
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 wouldThy blemishes amend, if so I could:I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.I stretched thy joynts to make thee even feet,Yet still thou run’st more hobling 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 none:And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.— Anne Bradstreet —