1856 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anne Bradstreet

Evert A. and George L. Duyckinck, Cyclopedia of American Literature (1856) 1:48-49.



The good lady must have enjoyed the perusal of Phineas Fletcher's Purple Island, a dissecting theatre in a book, which appeared in 1633. Her descriptions are extremely literal. She writes as if under bonds to tell the whole truth, which she does without any regard to the niceties or scruples of the imagination. Thus her account of childhood begins at the beginning somewhat earlier than a modern poetess would tax the memory of the muse; and she thinks it necessary to tell us in her account of winter, how,

Beef, brawn and pork, are now in great'st request,
And solid'st meats our stomachs can digest....

The literary father of Mrs. Bradstreet was Silver-tongued Sylvester, whose translation of Du Bartas was a popular book among Puritan readers at the beginning of the seventeenth century. His quaint volumes, which will be remembered as favorites with Southey's simple-minded Dr. Daniel Dove, were both poetical and devout; and if they led our author's taste astray, they also strengthened her finest susceptibilities.