It’s true, kids. I’m not interested in elaborating at the moment– but good Lord, what a chore to afflict students with! It’s unconscionable how many of her barely literate offerings are stuffed inside most survey anthologies.
What is the reasoning here? That because America had Emily Dickinson, a major world poet, in the 19th Century, there must be another major female New England poet for the 17th Century? Bradstreet is a very minor poet– so much so, in fact, that I must seriously entertain the possibility that Phyllis Wheatley was distinctily better. For young people to be left with the suggestion somehow that this talentless little woman was the American John Donne is outrageous.
Bradstreet’s meter is leaden, her sentences plodding, her moral tendentious, her imagination practically nonexistent.
That she was enough of a proto-feminist busybody to assert that her poetry deserved some crumb of praise is telling: a woman, even a strictly devout Puritan, must of necessity feel, whenever she interferes with a male occupation, that she is doing something of some importance. She testifies to her conviction that her poetry has at least some merit. Alas, she was grievously mistaken: her poetry is crap.
It is really time to stop pretending that anything of merit was written in the American Colonies: hell, little enough of lasting merit has been written here ever since.