27 January 2009
My head, my heart, mine Eyes, my life, nay more
I like Anne Bradstreet. When her husband felt called to do Stuff on the other side of the ocean, she packed up and went with the dude, exchanging a cozily predictable existence in England for adventures unknown in the Wild New World. She somehow managed to pull off being a genuine writer while also being the mother of eight.
There are in fact many reasons to like Anne Bradstreet, and one of my favorites is the way she flummoxes the feminist critics: She was the First Real American Poet! A Woman! Wo-man! HOOAH! But wait a minute…what’s this? She wrote all this stuff about her husband and her kids, like she was actually….fulfilled…by that slavish domestic stuff. Poor oppressed thing didn’t know any better! Sounds like she might’ve even believed her husband to be her head?! Oh! Now what do we do with her? Wait—look at this—I believe this here is subversive! Yes, subversive! One of our very favorite literary terms! In fact one of our only literary terms!
And so on, as they co-opt her for their cause. But I digress. Gauntlets’ Penelope post tangentially put me in mind of Bradstreet’s “A Letter to Her Husband, Absent Upon Public Employment.” So I thought I might as well put you in mind of it too. If freshman English is but a distant door down the crowded corridors of your mind, go read it again. You can even feel subversive if you want.