A Firsthand Account of Grief

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Anne Bradstreet wrote In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet to express her feelings after the loss of her granddaughter. She describes Elizabeth as a babe and flower and expresses her deep sadness in losing her. However, the diction used in the poem suggests that Bradstreet questions God’s decision to take her granddaughter so soon. The repetition of farewell emphasizes the tragedy of the situation and the use of the word lent implies that Elizabeth was robbed of the fullness of life. Bradstreet tries to console herself by reminding herself that her granddaughter is now in an everlasting state, but her questioning of God’s decision calls into question her religious beliefs.

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An Annotation of Anne Bradstreet’s In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet This poem is a firsthand account of how Anne Bradstreet was feeling when she experienced the loss of her granddaughter, Elizabeth. Although Bradstreet’s attitude on Elizabeth’s death seems to reflect her belief in God’s plan, the diction suggests otherwise. In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet, Who Deceased August, 1665, Being a Year and Half Oldby Anne Bradstreet 1 Farewell dear babe, my heart’s too much content, Farewell sweet babe, the pleasure of mine eye, Farewell fair flower that for a space was lent, Then ta’en away unto eternity.

Blest babe, why should I once bewail thy fate, Or sigh thy days so soon were terminate, Sith thou art settled in an everlasting state. 2 By nature trees do rot when they are grown, And plums and apples thoroughly ripe do fall, And corn and grass are in their season mown, And time brings down what is both strong and tall. But plants new set to be eradicate, And buds new blown to have so short a date, Is by His hand alone that guides nature and fate. Bradstreet begins the poem by describing how she felt for her granddaughter, and this is seen in the way she describes Elizabeth as a “babe” and “flower.” In phrases such as “my heart’s too much content” and “the pleasure of mine eye,” it is quite clear that she felt deeply for the little girl.

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It is obvious that a grandmother would be deeply saddened by the loss of her grandchild. However, the poem shifts focus from what Elizabeth meant to her grandmother to how Bradstreet sees this death. The repetition of “farewell” emphasizes the tragedy of the situation and solidifies the fact that she is gone. She continues to say goodbye as though this little girl died before she should have.

This declaration continues when Bradstreet describes her as a “fair flower that for a space was lent.” In using the word “lent,” it sounds as though the girl was robbed of the fullness of life and never had the opportunity to live. But who decides who gets to live? God. What Bradstreet is really saying is that God didn’t let her granddaughter live, and, resultantly, she is marking his decision as a mistake by complaining about it. This is not characteristic for one of such alleged concrete beliefs in God.

The fact that Bradstreet mentions that she should not complain of the loss because she is in “an everlasting state” questions her religious sincerity.

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A Firsthand Account of Grief. (2018, Feb 10). Retrieved from


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