Bradstreet, Anne. "Contemplations".
Summary and Analysis
- a long meditative poem of 33 stanzas rhyming ABAB
- both outward and inward contemplations
- relates what she sees in the outward world to her inward meditations on the nature of God
Early autumn evening. Richly clad trees, leaves, and fruits of beautiful colours look like as if painted, but are true. She meditates on how excellent God in heaven must be when he created such excellence on the earth. She casts her eye on a stately oak and realizes his old age is nothing to eternity. She contemplates the Sun and wonders how full of glory it must be when no eye has strength to look at it and how full of glory the God who created it must be.
She says that God is to be admired and adored forever. She is thinking of singing a song to praise God but the birds around her do the job better. Returns to the past times whom some people fancy to be dead but they are not, as things continue perpetually. Retells the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall, of Cain and Abel. Impossibility of escape from one's guilt or God's punishment.
Vanity of earthly life. The nature does not grow old but a man does. But the nature will be unmade while a man, despite his curse (perhaps that of total depravity), is made for immortal life. Contemplates the river which together with the water of hundred brooks makes her way to the ocean; contemplates the fish. She sort of envies the nightingale who is not burdened by painful fears of the past or future. The nightingale is the one who sets tone for his feathered crew and who leads it to the south for winter. Man is an ignorant and weak creature: a mariner may think for a while that he masters the sea but then a storm destroys his ship. The Time is destroyer even of the glory of the kings. The only thing to survive is the name of God.
AuthorBradstreet, Anne. (1612 - 1672).
Bradstreet, Anne. "Contemplations". In: The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym et al. NY: Norton, 1989.