[Puritanism was not an anti-intellectual fundamentalism; it was a learned, scholarly movement that required on the part of the leaders, and as much as possible from the followers, not only knowledge but a respect for the cultural heritage. Being good classicists, they read Latin and Greek poetry, and tried their hands at composing verses of their own. The amount they wrote, even amid the labor of settling a wilderness, is astonishing.
Of course, the Puritan aesthetic restricted the Puritan poet. He could not surrender himself to sensual delights, and the code of the plain style would apply to his rhythms as well as to his prose. Consequently little of this production speaks readily to the modern reader, but every collection of American poetry must salute the lyrics of Anne Bradstreet.
The daughter of Thomas Dudley, she lived as a girl in the comfort of the mansion of the Earl of Lincolnshire, was married at sixteen to Simon Bradstreet, and came with the Great Migration in 1630 to New England, "where," she says. "I found a new world and new manners, at which my heart rose." However, she continues: "After I was convinced it was the way of God, I submitted to it and joined the church at Boston." Later the Bradstreets became pioneers of North Andover; she raised a large family and in her few moments of leisure wrote a series of long, recondite poems on such conventional subjects as the seasons and the four monarchies. These are competent, cultured, though to our taste a bit stiff; they show intensive