Women Leaders: Unit 3

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Women Leaders: Unit 3

Reading Study Guide

by Kathleen Eilers crandall

Anne Bradstreet
(1612 - 1672)
First Poet in Colonial America

  • Read the paragraphs in the left column. Notice the bold words.

  • Try to figure out the meanings for the bold words.

  • Then reread the paragraphs.

  • You will need to answer questions about this biography on Test 1.

   She woke in the night to hear someone crying, "Fire! Fire!"  In a second, Anne Bradstreet was out of bed. Now she could smell smoke and hear the crackling of wood.  She reached into the cradle beside her bed and lifted out the baby.  She ran into the next room, calling the names of her older children.  "Get up! Get up quickly!" she cried.

   Soon Anne Bradstreet was pushing her children out through the door into the warm, windy night.  The flames of their burning house made the sky red.  Some neighbors ran to them to make sure they were all right.  Others were running from the well to the house with buckets of water.  But it was too late to put out this fire.  As they watched the roof fell in, and the house became a heap of burning rubble.

   It was a hard blow to Anne Bradstreet.  She thought of how long it had taken to build this house.  She thought of how her husband would feel when he came home to Andover from his trip to Boston.  Then she looked at her children and smiled.  Nothing that really mattered was lost.  She began to think what she must do next.

   There was much to be done.  It was some time before Anne Bradstreet began to write a poem.  A poem? Yes.

   Anne Bradstreet could no more help writing poems than a bird can help singing.  She had written poems to tell her love for her husband . . . 

   If ever two were one, then surely we.

   If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee . . .

   She had written poems about her children too, and the happy life of her family.  Now she wrote about the fire.

   In silent night when rest I took,

   For sorrow near I did not look. . . .

   Then she went on to tell about the frightening happenings of the night.

   Anne Bradstreet was fortunate.  Nobody said, "You are not supposed to write poems.  You are a woman, a wife, a mother.  Leave poetry for men to write."

   Anne Bradstreet's husband, Simon, was a generous, intelligent man.  He thought his wife's poems were beautiful.

  And so it happened that when Simon's brother had to make a trip to England, he took along a number of Anne's poems.  He found that the people in England admired them also.  Someone said they should be put in a book. Soon that was done.  The little book of Anne Bradstreet's poems became very popular.  Hers were the first poems from America that the people of England had ever seen.

   Years later, people would discover that the Indians, the very first Americans, had composed many poems.  But after their songs, Anne Bradstreet's poems come next in almost every collection of American poetry.


Anne Bradstreet


Anne Bradstreet – Verses Upon the Burning of Our House, July 18th, 1666 http://utl1.library.utoronto.ca/disk1/www/documents/utel/rp/poems/ABRAD8C.HTML

Selected Poetry of Anne Bradstreet



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