AP Literature: “The Author to Her Book”

Anne Bradstreet’s seventeenth-century poem, “The Author to Her Book” she compares the awareness of nurturing and properly raising a child to the writing and revising of a book. The speaker is caught between conflicting love of her book and shame of its weaknesses, both of which are expressed in the metaphor and in the tone – both expressing the true mammalian nature of her motherhood, ultimately creating a tone of sincerity and loyalty.

The sonnet begins with the words, “Thou ill-formed offspring,” demonstrating? he speaker’s perilous and somewhat despised attitude towards the book. Albeit, the following line shows a polar sense of indebtedness of the book’s blind allegiance with the words: “Whoafter birth did’st by my side remain. ” No matter how terrible the book may be or how negative the reaction of critics, the book will always remain loyal to the author. The metaphorical semblance of a mother simply cements the loyalty of such a bond.

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However, the binary opposition between love and? disdain continues throughout the poem, and likens to the complex relationship between mother and child.

This antagonism between love and hate symbolizes a mother’s cold-heartedness towards a fetus she perhaps did not desire. However, the birth of the child, like the publishing of the book, softens the mother’s heart and she finds comfort in the unquestionable loyalty. The opposition and eventual changing of heart bolsters both sincerity and loyalty, solidifying the poem’s tone. Through the sincere and loyal tone, it becomes apparent that the? speaker herself is proud of her work, but fearful of others’ responses to it.

Although she refers to the book as a “rambling brat” and “hobbling,” due to the impressions of others, the? tone is of protective sincerity, thus the mother-child metaphor. The? narrator says, “‘mongst vulgars may’ st thou roam,” in reference to the? outside world being ultra-critical of the book and child – purporting a deep sense of motherly protection. This outside world of critics and “vulgars” cannot penetrate the relationship and love the author has for her book, and, in effect, the bond between mother and child. The fact that the poem is in second person also increases the intimacy of the poem.

Even the? line, “If for thy Father asked, say thou had’st none,” sets the speaker and? her subject apart. No one can break the bond between the two. The metaphorical representation of this bond, along with the tone of trustworthiness and sincerity, fosters the poem’s message. The final two lines of the poem are perhaps the most sincere and therefore strengthen the loyalty between the titular character and her object of affection. The lines: “And for thy Mother, she alas is poor…which caused her thus to send? thee out the door” reads as excuses for sending the? book (and therefore the child) away.

The line reads both as charming and telling, for, regardless? of the necessity to publish the book, the fact remains that the speaker has? grown to accept the book for all of its shortcomings and to deem it, finally, fit for light. Using a metaphor of motherly love to describe her relations to her book the speaker establishes the tone and creates sincere and loyal emotions about separation and fear.? Emotions of love, shame, insecurity, devotion, and finally, acceptance all? shine through this metaphor and tone, leaving the reader relating the poets? words to more than just a book.

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