As if writing a poem a day for April isn’t enough, I’ve also just started an online course called “Ten Premodern Poems by Women“. It looks excellent. The first poem on the course is by a 17th century poet called Anne Bradstreet, a highly educated English woman who migrated to Massachusetts in 1630 as part of the Puritan exodus. She was the first North American female published poet. The poem being studied is “The Author to Her Book“, and it is her contemplation of the publication of her first book of poetry in her native England. She sees her poems as ragged orphans, unfathered children sent off in the world to find their fortune, whatever that may be.
I don’t write many formal, rhymed poems, but my first for April is inspired by reading Anne Bradstreet today. It uses some of the phrases from her original poem, and an ABAB rhyme scheme, 10 syllables per line; and it kills two birds with one stone – a poem for today, and my assignment for the course.
You, Anne Bradstreet
And then you are despatched to distant lands
A woman young, refined of wit and words
Midst frost and famine, danger, heathens damned
A place where poetry might seem absurd
A woman need not think, but work and breed
Yet still some sort of joy and love wells up
Though fervent faith constrains your thought and deed
A man adored and children given love
When work is done, and God is given praise
Your pen is put to use, your thoughts can spill
These offspring now are words, each one well raised
No man required, their seed is in your quill
And so they find their way back to your home
Your poems reach where you can ne’er return
In case of malice from the critics’ stones
Your virtue and your piety affirmed
Your feeble minded offspring, weak, ill formed
You let them go, with dirty cheeks and rags
To roam the world, unfathered, unadorned
Your irksome visaged, gangling, rambling brats.
Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015