In Anne Bradstreet's poem, "In Memory of My Dear Grandchild--Elizabeth Bradstreet," what is she trying to say?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The full title of Bradstreet's poem is as follows: "In Memory of My Dear Grandchild--Elizabeth Bradstreet, Who Deceased August, 1665, Being a Year and a Half Old". She was writing about her granddaugher who has died as a baby. Bradstreet was a devout Puritan who believed in God's grace and His will, but she was also a woman who loved her family deeply. Both aspects of her character are present in the poem as she mourns the baby's death while striving to accept God's will.

The first four lines of the poem express her deep love for this child. She calls the baby "dear" and "sweet" and refers to her as a "fair flower." The baby is her heart's contentment and "the pleasure of [her] eye," and has been taken from her.

In the next three lines, Bradstreet questions her own grief, reminding herself that this baby has gone to be with God, "settled in an everlasting state." The following four lines examine the natural order of life, growth, and death with examples from nature. She writes, "And time brings down what is both strong and tall."

In the poem's conclusion, Bradstreet addresses her grief that this child had not lived a long life as is the natural order. She finds comfort in her faith that it is God's hand that "guides nature and fate." She struggles to accept her personal loss as being God's will. This same theme is developed in Bradstreet's poem, "Upon the Burning of Our House."


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