Friday, September 12, 2008

Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet (1612-1672) - poetess

One of my 9th great-grandmothers is New England's (America's?) first poetess - Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet. She was born before 20 March 1611/12 in Northampton, Northamptonshire, England (christening); and died 16 September 1672 in Andover, Essex County, MA. She was the daughter of Thomas Dudley and Dorothy Yorke. She married (1) Simon Bradstreet in about 1628 in England. He was born before March 1603/04 in Horbling, Lincolnshire, England, and died 27 March 1697 in Salem, Essex County, MA. He was the son of Simon Bradstreet and Margaret Sawyer.

Her father, Thomas Dudley, and her husband, Simon Bradstreet, were Governors of Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 17th century.

The Mass Moments history blog has a post today about Anne's feelings about moving from comfortable England to the wilds of New England in their post "On This Day..." After immigrating to New England, Anne wrote:

"Bradstreet was only 18 when she arrived in Salem harbor in 1630 on the Arbella. She had been reluctant to say goodbye to her elegant home in England, but her husband, Simon, and stern father, Thomas Dudley, were determined to leave a country whose government was increasingly hostile to critics of the Anglican Church. Later in life, when she wrote that her "heart rose" as she set foot in America, she meant not that she rejoiced, but that she retched.

"Not surprisingly, she was horrified by the harshness of the New World: the "hungry wolves," "stormy rains," and "rugged stones" that she would one day describe in her poetry. Few Englishmen, and even fewer Englishwomen, had ventured to America. When the Arbella's party disembarked, they discovered that the little band of settlers sent to Salem the year before to prepare for the rest of the colonists had been almost obliterated by disease and starvation. The leaders of Bradstreet's group, including her father, husband, and the colony's future governor, John Winthrop, took one look at the miserable little settlement and headed south."

Read the whole thing.

Anne's most famous work was titled "The Tenth Muse," a work of 400 pages, which was published in London in 1650. A second edition was published in 1678 with additional material. This was six years after her death, and Mrs. Bradstreet seems to have had a hand in the revisions. The best edition of her poems is that of John Harbard Ellis, 1867, reprinted 1932. One of her best known poems is:

"To My Dear and Loving Husband

"If ever two were one, then surely we,
If ever man were lov'd by wife then thee;
If ever a wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye woman if you can,
I prize thy love more then whole Mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray,
Then while we live, in love let's so persevere,
That when we live no more, we may live ever. "

Of her children she wrote:

"I had eight birds hatcht in one nest,
Four cocks there were, and hens the rest;
I nurst them up with pain and care,
Nor cost, nor labour did I spare,
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the trees, and learn'd to sing."

The Mass Moments post says that " 2000, several North Shore communities were celebrating 'Anne Bradstreet Week' to mark the 350th anniversary of the poet's death."

Seems to me they were celebrating the 350th anniversary of the publication of Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet's "The Tenth Muse." She died in 1672, not in 1650.

It's neat when you find famous and creative people in your ancestry. I may have just 1 in 2,024 genes from Anne, and I doubt that they included her creativity, but I sure appreciate having her in my ancestry.

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