In Anne Bradstreet's poem "Before the Birth of One of Her Children" she writes a plea to her husband as she considers the terrible consequences if she should die in childbirth.
Anne Bradstreet was a seventeenth century Puritan who married and came to Massachusetts when she was only sixteen. She lived in an age when midwives saw to the needs of women in childbirth. Often, things went wrong.
The poem is written in the language of the day as Anne nears the hour of her delivery. It is uncertain how many children she has already delivered but this is not her first. She eventually would bear eight. She uses language that makes her sound helpless and alone. She is frightened, and seems to believe that she may die. No doctor is near and no medicines or hospital is available should she experience trouble. She will have nothing for the pain of birth.
As commonly practiced, her husband wasn't there to help in the delivery.
Anne uses poetic language and an expression of inevitability to convey her sense of helplessness and feelings of sadness. She seems to be ready for what comes, but she fears most for her husband and the children.
It seems that she speaks about the troubled state of her life as the labor pains grow stronger, reminding her how everything comes to end at some point. The poem goes on to explain that no matter how close someone is to you, that person can very easily be lost. Her words are those of a very strong and brave young woman facing the most terrible possibility she can imagine. She fears not only the pain of death, but more importantly the possibility that her children will be mistreated or unloved if she is gone. She was a...