Author Of Her Book Anne Bradstreet Essays

Word Choice And Tone In Bradstreet's "The Author To Her Book"

After reading "The Author to her Book," it helps to know about the author's background. Anne Bradstreet wrote this poem after she had received her recently published book. The problem was that she did not want her book published. In her eyes, it was unfinished and full of mistakes. In the poem, she treats the book as a child and uses a satirical tone. Her choice of words and tone are very important to the theme of the poem. Some readers, mainly logical, would think that the author is simply talking about a child. The truth is that she is talking about her recently finished book. Bradstreet shows a mixture of emotions toward what just happened.
The poem starts by speaking of a child. An "ill-formed" (1) child is mentioned. This indicates that her book was not fully developed. It was full of mistakes. It was a child "of my feeble brain," (1) meaning she obviously wrote the book herself and she believes her brain was weak. Next, Bradstreet states, "Who after birth did'st by my side remain," (2) meaning that she kept the book after it was finished. Her word choice here shows that she was not very happy with the way her book turned out. She wanted to keep it from the publishers so she could fix it over time. "Till snatched from thence by friends." (3) This statement shows a bit of anger in the tone. Bradstreet uses the word "snatched" (3) to show her slight anger. She knew that her friends had taken her book, but she knew that it was not a good idea. They wanted to do something nice for her, but she was not ready for this step of the book. She expresses this by saying they were "less wise than true." (3) "Exposed to public view" (4) indicates that they had the book published for her. "Where errors were not lessened, all may judge." (6)This line shows a tone of regret. I believe that Anne Bradstreet was regretful for letting her friends get a hold of her unfinished book. She also expresses a tone of slight fear. She is afraid that others will judge the book because of all the errors in it rather than focusing on the content of the book.
"At thy return my blushing was not small, / My rambling brat (in print) should mother call." (7-8) These two lines show her embarrassment of the book. She was obviously not ready for the book to be expressed to the public, and she was mortified at the amount of mistakes she had made. She was ashamed to call it her book, and symbolized it as a "brat" (8) in her poem. She sees it as an ill-disciplined child for leaving her sight. "Yet being mine own, at length affection would / Thy blemishes amend, if so I could: / I washed thy face, but more defects I saw, / And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw." (11-14) Bradstreet sees her book as a child that only a mother could love. She wanted to revise the book, but while she was reading the published copy, in her mind making changes, she only came across more problems. She...

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Summary:

The poet writes about the experience of looking at her book for the first time, which she describes as the "ill-form'd offspring" of her weak brain. It was always by her side after its birth but then, friends took it abroad and exposed it to public view. It went to the press "in rags," and its errors remained uncorrected.

Now that the book has returned to her, the poet blushes at her "rambling brat." At first, she thinks it is hateful to her sight, and she tries to wipe off its blemishes, but to no avail. The more she washes its face, the more flaws appear. She tries to level its uneven feet, but it still hobbles. She had hoped to dress it better, but it is in "home-spun cloth" that she found in the house.

She hopes that the book does not fall into a critic's hand or go to places where it ought not to go. If anyone asks if the book has a father, the book will tell them no, and if they ask if it has a mother, the book should tell them that her mother is poor and that is why she sent the book away.

Analysis:

“The Author to Her Book” is one of Anne Bradstreet’s most personal and memorable poems. Although she writes the verse in a lucid way, the poem is much more complicated than it initially seems. It offers many interesting insights into the role of the female poet, her psychology, and the historical context of the work. Bradstreet wrote the poem in iambic pentameter. The poem expresses Bradstreet's feelings about her brother-in-law’s publication of some of her poems in 1650, which she was not aware of until the volume was released.

Using the metaphor of motherhood, she describes the book as her child. Like a protective mother, she notes that the volume was “ill-form’d” and snatched away from her before it was ready for independence. The “friends” who took it were “less wise than true,” meaning that while their actions were careless, these people certainly did not have malicious intentions. Now that the work has been published without giving the poet time to correct any errors, it is out in the world at the same time that it is back in her hands.

At first, she describes the newly bound volume as “irksome in my sight,” unable to ignore the flaws she wished she had the opportunity to address. She wishes she could present her work in its best form but that is now impossible - she describes washing its face but still seeing dirt and marks. However, the poet cannot help but feel affection for the book, because it is hers - even though it is incomplete.

Critic Randall Huff points out that in this poem, Bradstreet uses contemporary terms culled from the book-publishing industry. For example, the “rags” in which the child was sent to the press may refer to the “high rag content of most paper at the time; it was the expensive product of a labor-intensive process and usually superior in many ways to most paper being produced today.”

At the end of the poem, Bradstreet accepts that her poetry is now out in the world. She hopes people will understand that she did not mean it to be academic or portentous. She takes responsibility for her work, and, as Huff writes, "in developing such maternal analogies, Bradstreet demonstrates that poetry, and especially its creation, is something that women can do."

Critic Eileen Margerum delves further into the matter of Bradstreet's thoughts on poetry and, specifically, poetry written by women. She writes that Bradstreet was proud to be a poet and did not consider it sinful or unrighteous to undertake such an endeavor. By the time The Tenth Muse was published and Bradstreet penned "The Author to Her Book," she was a mature poet. In this poem, she "deals with correcting the poems, not condemning their creator." She sees herself as more than a DuBartas acolyte or a woman beholden to her influential father (see "The Prologue" for more on this subject).

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