Anne Bradstreet's "The Prologue" is a poem that reflects on the role of the poet and the purpose of poetry in society. In the poem, Bradstreet grapples with the tension between her desire to write poetry and the expectations placed on her as a woman in a patriarchal society.
At the beginning of the poem, Bradstreet acknowledges that poetry is not seen as a worthy pursuit for a woman. She says, "I am obnoxious to each carping tongue / Who says my hand a needle better fits." Here, Bradstreet is acknowledging that many people think that a woman's place is in the home, sewing and doing other domestic tasks rather than writing poetry.
Despite this, Bradstreet persists in her desire to write. She explains that she writes because she is inspired by God and because she wants to leave a legacy for her children and future generations. She says, "I write, still seeking to please, / Yet pleasing not, but bending to my will." In these lines, Bradstreet is acknowledging that she is not writing to please others, but rather to fulfill her own desire to write.
Throughout the poem, Bradstreet grapples with the idea that her poetry may not be as good as the work of male poets. She says, "I am not so much idle, or so bold, / As may speak truth of dreams, so faint and frail, / But hold their tongue, who fear to touch the sail." Here, Bradstreet is expressing her doubt that her poetry is worthy enough to be compared to the work of male poets.
Despite these doubts, Bradstreet ultimately decides to embrace her role as a poet and to continue writing. She concludes the poem by saying, "And if some wealthy fool, or painted jade / Weep when they read, let them have leave to weep; / My tears must stop, for so my papers say." In these lines, Bradstreet is saying that she will continue to write, even if her poetry elicits tears from some readers. She is determined to follow her passion and to create a legacy through her writing.
In conclusion, "The Prologue" is a powerful reflection on the role of the poet and the purpose of poetry in society. It showcases Bradstreet's determination to write and to create a legacy through her poetry, despite the challenges and expectations placed upon her as a woman in a patriarchal society.