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In Anne Bradstreet's poem "Upon the Burning of Our House," the speaker says, "sound of...

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smkt7709 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted August 17, 2012 at 3:15 PM via web

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In Anne Bradstreet's poem "Upon the Burning of Our House," the speaker says, "sound of fire and fire, / Let no man know is my Desire." Is fire her desire?

Here is the first stanza of the poem.


In silent night when rest I took, 
For sorrow neer I did not look, 
I waken'd was with thundring nois 
And Piteous shreiks of dreadfull voice. 
That fearfull sound of fire and fire, 
Let no man know is my Desire. 
I, starting up, the light did spye, 
And to my God my heart did cry 
To strengthen me in my Distresse 
And not to leave me succourlesse. 
Then coming out beheld a space, 
The flame consume my dwelling place.

2 Answers | Add Yours

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 17, 2012 at 6:52 PM (Answer #1)

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"Upon the Burning of Our House," also titled "Here Follows Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House July 10, 1666," is a true account of one night when Bradstreet lost her home, including a library of 800 books. Fire is not her desire. It is what fire represents. For Bradstreet, fire is a reference to Luke 12:49, "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" This is a message from Christ about his second coming. 

Fire represents the link between this world and heaven. When the fire destroys all her possessions, Bradstreet reminds herself these earthly goods are nothing compared to the treasure that lies above in heaven. So, fire is a link to Christ, a reminder of the difference between earth and heaven, and in order to deal with the loss, Bradstreet must look at the fire with blind faith; it is an act of God and must be part of a divine plan. 

She will mourn the loss of her possessions but recognizes they are ephemeral when compared with the permanence of heaven. As she sees it, only God can know ("Let no man know") the extent of her faith. 


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smkt7709 | Student , Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted August 18, 2012 at 5:21 PM (Answer #2)

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Thank you very much for the scriptural verse. Now, that line makes sense to me! I really appreciate your help!

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