The Author to Her Book (early 1660s)

Though written after 1650 (for a planned revision of her own of The Tenth Muse), this poem still reflects Bradstreet's use of a Renaissance poetic standard. “Affected modesty” is present as are extended “conceits,” weaving sophisticated humor throughout the poem to achieve a pleasing effect. The closing lines go beyond affected modesty for sure—her poems are hers alone (they have no father) and she will see them published as she wishes this time (although that did not happen; any revisions most likely were destroyed when her house burned in 1666).

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,

Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,

Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).

At thy return my blushing was not small,

My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,

I cast thee by as one unfit for light,

The visage was so irksome in my sight;

Yet being mine own, at length affection would

Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.

I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,

And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.

I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,

Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet;

In better dress to trim thee was my mind,

But nought save homespun cloth i’ th’ house I find.

In this array ’mongst vulgars may’st thou roam.

In critic’s hands beware thou dost not come,

And take thy way where yet thou art not known;

If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;

And for thy mother, she alas is poor,

Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.