Posted in Film and Literature Analyses

The Author to Her Book

By: Bryan Ricardo Marini Quintana

(Edmund H. Garrett, Nineteenth century depiction of Anne Bradstreet)

In “The Author to Her Book”, poet Anne Bradstreet writes of an intimate relationship between herself as a creator and the text as the creation. This brings the element of family into the poem, giving Anne Bradstreet and the text a relationship akin to that of a mother with her child. At the start, the text is granted life and a consciousness of its own through the writer, as Anne Bradstreet says: “Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,”. What the poet expresses here is how the text derives its essence of being and consciousness from the mother. Afterward, Anne Bradstreet shows that as a writer, her creation is like raising a child. Throughout the poem, the descriptions bear similarity to a relationship between a mother and her child, as the writer gives birth to the text to then mold it. This way, Anne Bradstreet sees the text as a part of herself, saying: “Who after birth didst by my side remain,”. However, a time will come when the mother must let go of her child, as the text becomes detached from the writer. Outside of the writer’s protective bubble, the text will be judged. “Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,” (Bradstreet). With the text taken away from the author, now it isn’t under her care anymore and must face the masses in an exposed state to be embraced or rejected. This makes the mother or writer come to terms with her limitations as a creator, realizing she must let go of the text no matter how difficult it may be, allowing her child to face an audience who will either accept it or disregard it.

Further on, the creator faces a dilemma as the audience judges harshly her creation, making Anne Bradstreet grow dissatisfied with the text, as public opinion influences how the mother now sees mistakes in her child. “I cast thee by as one unfit for light,” (Bradstreet). These are the words of a mother in pain, seeing her child get scrutinized by the public. This is why, she acts on maternal instincts and seeks to shed the light away from her mistreated child, so that it may not be judged. Alongside, Anne Bradstreet is faced with the predicament of an artist never truly finishing her work, as she now sees imperfections that must be amended. “Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight;” (Bradstreet). Even now, the poet grows judgmental of the text, turning against her own creation. Here, there’s a clever play of words, with the poet describing how the text cannot see light, the public light, yet the writer can’t bear to see it as well, so it must get out of her sight. This is a drastic change in tone that occurs in the poem, showing how the motherly love and protection are fading away, with the creator sharply criticizing the text, her own child.

However, in the next two lines, after what appeared to be a furious fit of frustration, Anne Bradstreet returns to her motherly love and affection for her child, the text. “Yet being mine own, at length affection would” (Bradstreet). Even though the text has been judged, it’ll always have a home in the heart and mind of the writer. With comforting words, Anne Bradstreet soothes the text: “Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:”. Afterward, it appears that the writer wishes to reshape her creation to improve it. “I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,” (Bradstreet). In here, Anne Bradstreet desperately attempts to fix her child, yet only finds out that perhaps she is only tampering with it. “And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.” (Bradstreet). The various attempts to edit her unwanted and imperfect child fail to mend the text, with the poet saying: “I stretched thy joynts to make thee even feet,” (Bradstreet). However, the mother isn’t able to make the text stand properly, as Anne Bradstreet says: “Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;”. In here, the poet compares the book to a child, trying to make its feet even, so it can stand properly and not stumble, yet any attempt to make it stand straight is folly.

Finally, the writer comes to terms with her text, accepting that it has already been exposed to an audience and that any attempt to change it would only damage her creation. Then the mother releases the child from her grasp saying: “In this array ’mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam.” (Bradstreet). Now, the writer embraces the judgment her text will receive once again when it is released out into the public view. “In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come;” (Bradstreet). However, this time the mother is ready to let her child go, knowing an artist’s work is never finished, she allows creation to roam freely away from the creator. “And take thy way where yet thou art not known,” (Bradstreet). Hence, poet Anne Bradstreet brings to the forefront of the poem a relationship between writer and text, which in her eyes is akin to that of a mother and child, as she learns to mold it, take care of it, and let it go.

Works Cited:

Bradstreet, Anne. “The Author to Her Book.” 1650. Poetry Foundation,