September 16: Anne Bradstreet Day

By a Gentlewoman in New England

By a Gentlewoman in New England

Anne Bradstreet Day every September 16 commemorates the first female poet to be published in the New World. Anne Bradstreet was a devout Puritan, the wife of Massachusetts Bay colony governor William Bradstreet,  and the mother of eight children. She was also very well educated. Many of poems were sent with letters to various friends and family, especially to her husband as he traveled for various business and political reasons.

One of my favorite poems was written in 1666 after their house burned in the night, and is appropriately titled: “Verses Upon the Burning of Our House July 10, 1666” (catchy title!). In it, she describes her fear and sadness and struggles to accept it. Her religion plays a strong role here, when she reminds herself that it was all God’s anyway, never hers, and that her true hope is in heaven. You can read the whole poem here, but here are a few of my favorite lines from it, as well as the Bible verse that it partially reflects on. As she watched her house burn:

“And when I could no longer look,
I blest his grace that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so ’twas just.
It was his own; it was not mine.

“There’s wealth enough; I need no more.
Farewell, my pelf; farewell, my store.
The world no longer let me love;
My hope and Treasure lies above.”

~ “Verses Upon the Burning of Our House July 10, 1666” by Anne Bradstreet

And from the Sermon on the Mount:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21

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