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What is the theme of Anne Bradstreet's poem, "In Memory of My Dear Grandchild"?

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khaledoudat | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 8, 2009 at 7:52 PM via web

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What is the theme of Anne Bradstreet's poem, "In Memory of My Dear Grandchild"?

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lit24 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted October 8, 2009 at 9:41 PM (Answer #1)

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Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was born in England but settled down in America in 1630. Her  husband Simon Bradstreet served as governor of  Massachusetts Bay Colony. She faced many adversities in her life - she lost all her belongings when her house burnt down, she lost her son and daughter to illness and she herself died of TB. However, her Christian faith helped her to face and overcome all these personal calamities successfully.

Anne Bradstreet does not hide her grief and sorrow from her readers nor does she intellectualize it, but instead she tells it  as it is in plain simple terms:

 

"With troubled heart and trembling hand I write.
The heavens have changed to sorrow my delight.
How oft with dissappointment have I met
When I on fading things my hopes have set."

She begins by complaining that the "heavens" are responsible for her innocent grandchild's death. But she immediately checks herself by saying that  her past "experience" of the death of her dear ones has made her more stoical and helped to bear her loss:

"Was ever stable joy yet found below?
Or perfect bliss without mixture of woe?"

She realizes and accepts the impermanence of human existence and summons up enough courage to finally bid farewell to her grand daughter. Finally, she seeks consolation in her strong Christian faith that her grand  daughter is with Jesus Christ in heaven and that she will meet her when she herself goes there:

Farewell, dear child; thou ne'er shalt come to me,
But yet a while and I shall go to thee.
Meantime my throbbing heart's cheered up with this--
Thou with thy Savior art in endless bliss.

 

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