The balance between being a writer and having a rich, full life is one that I struggle with. It takes a talent to live successfully–to juggle all the mundane responsibilities of each day with the larger concerns: finding love, finding fulfillment with your work, spending time with friends–and isn’t always as easy as striving for what seems like a larger goal: writing a book, selling a screenplay.

One of the many reasons that I admire Anne Bradstreet, the first woman to have her creative writing published in the United States, is that she managed to both write and live as fully as one can hope for. Besides raising eight children and keeping a happy marriage alive, she also emigrated from England to America and never neglected her own studies and reading. She also wrote a book of poetry, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up In America, which was “borrowed” by a family member and published without her knowledge in 1647.

I admire this intelligent, eloquent woman who not only managed to bring up a large family in the wilds of America but also found time to express herself through writing. 361 years later, it’s easy to relate to what she’s thinking and feeling.

In “In Reference To Her Children,” Bradstreet imagines that she is a bird, and her eight children are her beloved nestlings. As each grows up and flies away, she sings a song praying for their safety. One day, she knows, she, too, will take flight, “into a country beyond sight” and she prays:

When each of you shall in your nest

Among your young ones take your rest,

In chirping language, oft them tell,

You had a dam that loved you well,

That did what could be done for young,

And nursed you up till you were strong,

And ‘fore she once would let you fly,

She showed you joy and misery;

Taught what was good, and what was ill,

What would save life, and what would kill.

Thus gone, amongst you I may live,

And dead, yet speak, and counsel give:

Farewell, my birds, farewell adieu,

I happy am, if well with you.

Sniff. In other poems, she writes about events that happened in her life: the family’s house burning down, her husband returning safely from a journey, her (and her children’s) recoveries from illnesses. The immortality of her feelings and thoughts, crystallized in poetry, inspire me to attempt my own (hobbling) writing. I need to start writing poetry again, too.

Advertisements