Anne Bradstreet is known for her plain, puritan, and love themes, which are her major points of writing style. It also defines her persona. In terms of word choice, syntax, language, rhythm, and rhetoric, Anne Bradstreet is entirely different from most writers who write in a similar style.
Anne Bradstreet’s Word Choice
Regarding word choice, Bradstreet uses very simple language. Sometimes, she uses only two or three syllable words and not more, and yet they define the rhythm of her poetic output. Sometimes, she resorts to using appropriate words with repetitions to make her writing strong such as in her poem “To My Dear and Loving Husband” which shows in the first stanza how she plays with double and triple syllable words such as man, woman, and then and thee.
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can …
Anne Bradstreet’s Sentence Structure and Syntax
This is the second element of the writing style of a writer. Writers depend on the length and style of their sentences to impact their readers. Anne Bradstreet used very simple sentences, but in poetic diction, she surpassed the poets of her age in using distinct types of sentences. Although these four lines do not represent her prose writing style, they show how she has used three different types of sentences in the poem “The Author to her Book.”
Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view …
Anne Bradstreet’s Figurative Language
The figurative language of Anne Bradstreet syncs with her themes of Puritanism and love. She has used assonances and consonances sparingly to create music and melody in her poems. In this stanza in “The Flesh and the Spirit”, Anne Bradstreet has used an AABBCCDD rhyme scheme, repetition of things, and sounds of w and s. The stanza present here also shows the use of figurative language.
In secret place where once I stood
Close by the Banks of Lacrim flood,
I heard two sisters reason on
Things that are past and things to come.
One Flesh was call’d, who had her eye
On worldly wealth and vanity;
The other Spirit, who did rear
Her thoughts unto a higher sphere
Anne Bradstreet’s Rhythm and Component sounds
The usage of Rhythm in Bradstreet’s writing style and language depends not only on the rhyme scheme but also on other poetic devices such as consonant sounds. For example, took, look, noise, and voice in the given stanza rhyme with each other. The repetition of the /t/ sound in the first verse and the /w/ sound in the third, as she used alliteration to show her skills of using sounds to create rhythm. The given stanza from “Upon the Burning of our House” shows as follows.
In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I wakened was with thund’ring noise
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice …
Anne Bradstreet’s Rhetorical Patterns
Rhetorical patterns include narration, description, and other rhetorical devices, which also fall under the category of literary devices. The description and comparison of doing and no-doing shows in this stanza of Ann Bradstreet’s “Contemplation.”
I wist not what to wish, yet sure thought I,
If so much excellence abide below,
How excellent is he that dwells on high?
Whose power and beauty by his works we know.
Sure he is goodness, wisdom, glory, light,
That hath this under world so richly dight.
More Heaven than Earth was here, no winter and no night.
Anne Bradstreet’s Themes
Most of the themes used by Anne Bradstreet involve loving, depiction of nature, her devotion to her belief, and her love for her community. Almost all the thematic strands of her poems revolve around these major areas. However, most of her themes demonstrate her sarcastic tone toward social mores. She also demonstrated her strong faith in God. This stanza from her poem “Contemplations” shows the same.
Here Cain and Abel come to sacrifice,
Fruits of the Earth and Fatlings each do bring,
On Abels gift the fire descends from Skies,
But no such sign on false Cain’s offering;
With sullen hateful looks he goes his wayes.
Hath thousand thoughts to end his brothers dayes,
Upon whose blood his future good he hopes to raise.