Anne Bradstreet is known as a prolific poet of 17th century whose work is
largely based on Puritan theological concepts. Puritan society had its own
unique set of Christian beliefs, which were slightly harsh compared to
modern Christian values. For this reason, English writings of this period
reveal a sense of hopelessness and despondency as far as this worldly life
is concerned. Material accomplishments were viewed as selfish desires,
which had to be abandoned if a man sought to achieve happiness in the world
thereafter. These were some of the common Puritan concepts, which must be
kept in mind when reading and analyzing Bradstreet's poem, â€˜Upon Burning of
This poem was written in 1666, a time when women were barred from entering
the world of literature. Thus it was all the more important for female
writers and poets to adhere to strict Christian beliefs and values in order
not to infuriate the unyielding Puritan society. For this reason, we notice
every line of Bradstreet's poem highlighting Puritan theological ideals.
The poem begins with Bradstreet awakening to the sound of Fire. This fire
symbolizes the Day of Judgment because like fire, that day would bring an
end to everything man has. That would be the day when man's worldly
possessions wouldn't matter, and he would only be worrying about whether or
not he would be accepted in Heaven. Sound of Fire reminds the poet of her
real and most important goal in this world as she says, "That fearful sound
of "fire" and "fire,"/ Let no man know is my Desire." It is her desire to
work hard not for material goods of this world but the actual ever-lasting
rewards of the world thereafter.
Bradstreet is exploring a very simple Christian concept in this poem.
However if the poem is studied in historical context, we can unearth many
significant messages, which speak volumes about the times of the poet. For
example, the willingness of the poet to shun...