I am in the middle of another post on Williamsburg and have been reading a lot on colonial times. As often happens, I came across people unknown to me, such as Anne Bradstreet from 1612-1672, and her photo I found online. There is no connection to Williamsburg as far as I know, but I enjoyed this lady’s writings very much, and she lived in that time frame.
I also read this description:
"At a time when it was considered unacceptable for women to write, Anne rejected the prevailing ideas of women's inferiority. She endured criticism, not for the quality of her work but that she, a woman, dared to write.
"The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America” (1650), was her first volume of poetry, first published in London, and favorably received. Published under the pseudonym "A Gentlewoman from Those Parts," this collection, like Ann Bradstreet's subsequent work, reflected the duties of a Puritan woman to God, home and family. She did so skillfully, and occasionally allowed notes of cynicism to creep in - perhaps the only form of rebellion possible for a woman of her time. For example: "I am obnoxious to each carping tongue that says my hand a needle better fits.""
This poem stood out for me. It is long but one I thought very much worth my time. I want to read it again and that's why I am sharing it here, and hopefully you will enjoy it also. She uses birds as a metaphor for her children. Another reason I was drawn to her poem. It is dated June 23rd, 1659.
"I had eight birds hatched in one nest,
Four cocks there were, and hens the rest.
I nursed them up with pain and care,
Nor cost, nor labour did I spare,
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the trees, and learned to sing;
Chief of the brood then took his flight
To regions far and left me quite.
My mournful chirps I after send,
Till he return, or I do end:
Leave not thy nest, thy dam and sire,
Fly back and sing amidst this choir.
My second bird did take her flight,
And with her mate flew out of sight;
Southward they both their course did bend,
And seasons twain they there did spend,
Till after blown by southern gales,
They norward steered with filled sails.
A prettier bird was no where seen,
Along the beach among the treen.
I have a third of color white,
On whom I placed no small delight;
Coupled with mate loving and true,
Hath also bid her dam adieu;
And where Aurora first appears,
She now hath perched to spend her years.
One to the academy flew
To chat among that learned crew;
Ambition moves still in his breast
That he might chant above the rest
Striving for more than to do well,
That nightingales he might excel.
My fifth, whose down is yet scarce gone,
Is 'mongst the shrubs and bushes flown,
And as his wings increase in strength,
On higher boughs he'll perch at length.
My other three still with me nest,
Until they're grown, then as the rest,
Or here or there they'll take their flight,
As is ordained, so shall they light.
If birds could weep, they would my tears
Let others know what are my fears
Lest this my brood some harm should catch,
And be surprised for want of watch,
Whilst pecking corn and void of care,
They fall un'wares in fowler's snare,
Or whilst on trees they sit and sing,
Some untoward boy at them do fling,
Or whilst allured with bell and glass,
The net be spread, and caught, alas.
Or lest by lime-twigs they be foiled,
Or by some greedy hawks be spoiled.
O would my young, ye saw my breast,
And knew what thoughts there sadly rest,
Great was my pain when I you fed,
Long did I keep you soft and warm,
And with my wings kept off all harm,
My cares are more and fears than ever,
My throbs such now as 'fore were never.
Alas, my birds, you wisdom want,
Of perils you are ignorant;
Oft times in grass, on trees, in flight,
Sore accidents on you may light.
O to your safety have an eye,
So happy may you live and die.
Meanwhile my days in tunes I'll spend
Till my weak lays with me shall end.
In shady woods I'll sit and sing,
And things that past to mind I'll bring.
Once young and pleasant, as are you,
But formers toys (no joys) adieu.
My age I will not once lament,
But sing, my time so near is spent.
And from the top bough take my flight
Into a country beyond sight,
Where old ones instantly grow young,
And there with seraphims set song;
No seasons cold, nor storms they see;
But spring lasts to eternity.
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."
You can read more about her life here.
I am slowly getting through my photos from Williamsburg, as you can see.
Have a great day and