Anne Bradstreet of North Andover, December 1643
America’s First Poet, she is called. Anne Bradstreet of North Andover, originally part of Andover in the mid-1600’s when she moved to the frontier with her family from Cambridge (then Newtowne). She had sailed from England in 1630 with her husband to avoid religious persecution as Puritans. She was 18 years old when she crossed the Atlantic on a ship that included the colonial governor, John Winthrop. In Salem, Charlestown, and Ipswich before Cambridge and Andover, she and her husband, a Magistrate to the Court, helped shape the new colony and raised eight children. She began writing in her early 20’s in Ipswich, at the time an intellectual hub. Without her knowledge, a brother-in-law took her poems to England, where they were published in a book in 1650 (“The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America”), which was immediately popular. She died at age 60 in 1672, but her burial place in North Andover is not known. For these facts, thanks to “Anne Bradstreet: America’s First Poet,” published in 1998 by the Friends of the Stevens Memorial Library in North Andover and Friends of the Ipswich Public Library—PM
An Epitaph on My Dear and Ever-honored Mother, Mrs. Dorothy Dudley, Who Deceased December 27, 1643, and of her Age, 61
A worthy matron of unspotted life,
A loving mother and obedient wife,
A friendly neighbor, pitiful to poor,
Whom oft she fed and clothed with her store;
To servants wisely awful, but yet kind,
And as they did, so they reward did find.
A true instructor of her family,
The which she ordered with dexterity.
The public meetings ever did frequent,
And in her closet hours she spent;
Religious in all her words and ways,
Preparing still for death, till end of days;
Of all her children, children lived to see,
Then dying, left a blessed memory.
—Anne Bradstreet, North Andover (1643)