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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials - Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet was the first recognized female poet of the New World. Born in Northampton, Bradstreet emigrated to New England with her husband and her family in 1630. Bradstreet composed poetry while raising eight children amid the privations of the New World. Outwardly Anne Bradstreet was a deeply religious woman, but her poetry reflects an abiding commitment to the concerns of this life (her family, community, and home) rather than the next.

Colonial American poet Anne Bradstreet.  Part of the Qwiz5 series by Qwiz Quizbowl Camp, written to help quiz bowl teams power more tossups!

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on Anne Bradstreet.


Bradstreet’s volume of poetry, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America, was popular from the start. King George III was said to own a copy of it. The collection is divided into several sections. The first section is made up of four long poems called the quaternions, including “The Four Ages of Man” and the “Four Elements.” The second section, The Four Monarchies, is made up of historical poems exploring the rise and fall of ancient civilizations. Other famous poems in the collection include “Contemplations,” and “The Flesh and the Spirit.”


One of the most notable poems in The Tenth Muse is “The Author To Her Book.” In this poem Bradstreet addresses the collection as if it were her child. Bradstreet makes liberal use of self-deprecation, referring to the book as an “ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain.” The poem demonstrates Bradstreet’s wit as well, with the poet punning on meter by claiming that she “stretched thy joints to make thee even feet.”


Bradstreet wrote “Verses Upon the Burning of Our House” in 1666 (the same year as the Great Fire of London!), following the destruction of her family’s North Andover home. The poem begins with Bradstreet lamenting the loss of her family’s earthly possessions, saying: “My pleasant things in ashes lie.” However, Bradstreet takes comfort in the promise of eternal life. “Thou hast a house on high erect,” Bradstreet writes, referencing her heavenly home. The poem closes with a famous couplet: “The world no longer let me love / My hope and treasure lies above.”


“To My Dear and Loving Husband” is a short poem by Bradstreet, but one that nonetheless deals with several weighty themes. Bradstreet describes the unifying power of love in her marriage: “If ever two were one, then surely we.” Bradstreet goes on to address her husband, saying, “I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold.” Bradstreet views this love as transcending mortality, saying: “Then while we live, in love let’s so persevere / That when we live no more we may live ever.”


John Berryman, an American poet of the 1950s and 60s, wrote a long poem about Bradstreet. The poem explores Bradstreet within the wider context of American history.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:


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