Anne Bradstreet was one of the first American poets; she was one of the first woman writers in the American Colonies, to be published. There are several examples throughout Bradstreet’s poem “In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet, Who Deceased August, 1665, Being a Year and a Half Old” that demonstrate Anne Bradstreet’s love, sorrow, grief, and the struggle Bradstreet experiences with the Puritan faith because of the loss of a granddaughter.
Anne Bradstreet is the speaker in her poem “In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet, Who Deceased August, 1665, Being a Year and a Half Old. This poem is written in iambic pentameter which means that the first syllable is unstressed and following syllable is stressed. The use of this technique gives the rhythm of everyday communication, which is known to capture and keep one’s attention. The structure of the poem includes five metric feet, ten syllables per line, and two stanzas with a total of seven lines per stanza. Anne Bradstreet shows the love she has for the one and a half year old grandchild, Elizabeth, through the reference of dear babe (1. 1), sweet babe (1. 2) and fair flower (1. 3) in the first stanza.
Bradstreet uses specific words to show the love she has for Elizabeth. In the first stanza, the lines my hearts too much content (1. 1) and the pleasure of mine eyes (1. 2) express the depth of her love. Bradstreet shows the sorrow that she is experiencing at the untimely death of Elizabeth through the word Farwell (1. 1, 1. 2, and 1. 3) that begins the first three lines. The phrase that for a space was lent (1. 3) replies that God had intentions of taking the dear child home to be with the Lord before her time. Line six states Or sigh the days were so soon terminate (1. ), which suggests that God put Bradstreet’s granddaughter on this earth for a temporary stay.
The first stanza of the poem not only reflects the love for her grandchild but also shows her religious struggle and the faith she has in the Puritan religion. Bradstreet demonstrates the struggle she is having with her religion because Elizabeth was taken away from her family through her expression of Then ta’en away into eternity (1. 4). The example of faith that Bradstreet gives towards her religion is stated in line seven, Sith thou art settled in an everlasting state (1. ). A grandparent or parent does not expect to outlive his younger loved ones. It seems that Bradstreet did not expect her grandchild to die. Bradstreet is sorrowful from the loss of her grandchild; she writes Blest babe, why should I once bewail thy fate (1. 5). Knowing that the grandchild will be reunited with her family, the author reinforces the faith she holds for the Puritan religion, through the line, Sith thou art settled in an everlasting state (1. 7). The second stanza questions God and his decision to end the child’s life.
Bradstreet uses nature as a metaphor to describe a life cycle: trees rot when they are grown, plums and apples fall when thoroughly ripe, and the grass and corn are mown down on completion of their growth. Through the use of metaphors, Bradstreet communicates that nature cycles its course. Through this analogy, Bradstreet questions why her granddaughter’s life is shortened before running its course. Although Bradstreet does not understand the reason for the untimely death of Elizabeth, she concludes with the reassurance of the faith she holds for God, she acknowledges that she and her granddaughter will be reunited in heaven.
Material objects and personal possessions are two of the issues that Bradstreet struggled with involving her faith with the Puritan religion. The Puritan religion emphasizes that one must be Godly in every way. Anne Bradstreet was a member of an elite social group within the newly established colony. This adds to her material wealth while conflicting with her spiritual wealth and to her religious faith. Bradstreet expresses the Puritan idea that the loss may be God’s punishment. Bradstreet rejects that idea and establishes her faith in God.
The poem “In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet, Who Deceased August, 1665, Being a Year and a Half Old” is an example of what a Puritan woman faced trying to establish a colony with limited resources and living the strict Puritan lifestyle was difficult. Through all her trials and tribulations, Anne Bradstreet demonstrates the devotion she maintains to the Puritan religion. This poem illustrates the love, sorrow, grief, and the effort that Bradstreet attributes to her Puritan faith.