Birth Is Nothing (Anne Bradstreet Essay)

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Birth is Nothing, But Death Begun To many people, the presentation of a new child to the world is simply magical, and unsurprisingly, mothers such as Doris Smith agrees that “A baby is God’s way of saying the whole world should move on.” Unfortunately, while that quote appears to have good intentions to it, it also has a dark lining; the world “go[ing] on” may mean the end of a parent’s life, a past fear common among the mothers before the 17th century, including but not limited to poet Anne Bradstreet. In her poem “Before the Birth of One of her Children,” Anne Bradstreet exhibits the explicit sensations that correspond to those of motherly figures of the future and the past. Particularly, these sensations ring true to maternal aspects sourced by family-concerned love and the self. In this case, Bradstreet indicates the aspects of being sentenced death, her religious view to death, and the maternal wishes to care for her family. In modern days, most verses and poems about childbirth can be redundantly spiritual and jovial; however, while birth can bring about new life and thrill, it also presents the possibility of death, which Anne Bradstreet consistently cites in a likely separation of husband and wife. Due to the nonexistence of maternal health and medicine, childbearing in the 17th century was a frightening “miracle” because of the leeway of “A common thing, yet oh, inevitable. / How soon, my dear, death may my steps attend” (Line 6-7). Unlike the mothers of the future, where childbirth has improved and death rate has lowered, the mothers in the 17th century could be faced with a penalty of death along with their children. Here, Bradstreet seems certain about the “inevitable” possibility, which attribute to the enigmatic, ethereal theme of the poem. Because Bradstreet becomes so certain and concerned about this threat of death, she writes this particular

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