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Not only does her work reflect the struggle for survival in the harsh living conditions of the New World, but also of a well-educated and intuitive woman surrounded by Puritan ideology.
Her writing style is deceptively simple, but speaks of a free-thinking woman of high intelligence, airing her views in a restricted society with ease. Bradstreet's rich vocabulary, and lyrical, yet logical quality, is a pleasure to read.
I love the description on the cover of a chapbook, published after her death: "Compiled with great variety of wit and learning, full of delight ... with diverse other pleasant & serious poems, by a Gentlewoman in New England."
One of her early pieces dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I, alludes to the role of women and their capabilities with a sly wit that emerges in many of her poems. Say it, Annie baby ...
Now say have women worth? or have they none?
Or had they some, but with our queen is't gone?
Nay Masculines, you have thus taxt us long,
But she, though dead, will vindicate our wrong,
Let such as say our Sex if void of Reason,
Know tis a Slander now, but once was Treason.
Another poem touches on the subject of the definition of the Puritan roles of men and women, with the understanding of the likelihood that her poetical accomplishments would not be accepted:
I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits
A Poet's Pen I should all scorn thus wrong
For such despite they cast on female wits.
If what I do prove well, it won't advance
They'll say it's stol'n, or else it was by chance.
Even though Bradstreet's feminism was held in check by her religious values, I appreciate the conflict expressed in her poetry, and the finding of her voice in a patriarchal society. I am touched by the surprisingly modern thoughts contained in her Puritan style, as a woman, and as a writer. She and I are simpatico.