June 5, 2017

The First Published Poet in America

Who was the first published poet in America? Anne Bradstreet.

Anne was a Puritan mother of eight children. She is considered to be one of our earliest feminists and the first true poet in the American colonies.

Her collection, The Tenth Muse (AKA The Tenth Muse, lately Sprung up in America), was published by a printer without her consent or knowledge.

The "Tenth Muse" can refer to the ancient Greek poet Sappho.

She wrote the poem below in response to a second edition of that unauthorized edition being printed.

The Author to Her Book
by Anne Bradstreet

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my 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.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save homespun cloth i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ‘mongst vulgars may’st thou roam.
In critic’s hands beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known;
If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.

The Works of Anne Bradstreet

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