Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America is a collection of poems by Anne Bradstreet (née Dudley) which was published in London by an admiring brother-in-law. The volume begins with a number of short poems honoring Bradstreet by various New England worthies, followed by a respectful poem dedicated to her father Thomas Dudley, after which appear longer scholarly poems (“quaternions”) on the four elements (fire, earth, water, and air); the four humors (or bodily fluids); the four ages of life; the four seasons; and the four “monarchies” (a truncated world history up to the Romans). Following these come shorter verses such as “A Dialogue Between Old and New England: An elegy Upon Sir Philip Sidney” (the courtier and poet the Dudleys claimed as kinsman); a poem in praise of the French poet Guillaume Du Bartas (1544-1590), whom the Puritans held in high esteem; and poems, many of them dedicatory, on a variety of other subjects. Before her death, Bradstreet made emendations and added still more poems for a projected revised edition; some of these added poems are regarded as her finest. This new book, known as Several Poems, was published in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1678.

The Tenth Muse (the full title runs more than two dozen lines) is certainly not a title that Anne Bradstreet chose herself, for while she was realistically aware of her talent, she would have considered it pretentious to call herself “the tenth...

(The entire section is 588 words.)