Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 18th

In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I waken’d was with thund’ring noise
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.
That fearful sound of ‘fire’ and ‘fire,’
Let no man know is my Desire.
I starting up, the light did spy,
And to my God my heart did cry
To straighten me in my Distress
And not to leave me succourless.
Then coming out, behold a space
The flame consume my dwelling place.
And when I could no longer look,
I blest his grace that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so ’twas just.
It was his own; it was not mine.
Far be it that I should repine,
He might of all justly bereft
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the Ruins oft I past
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast
And here and there the places spy
Where oft I sate and long did lie.
Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest,
There lay that store I counted best,
My pleasant things in ashes lie
And them behold no more shall I.
Under the roof no guest shall sit,
Nor at thy Table eat a bit.
No pleasant talk shall ‘ere be told
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle ‘ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom’s voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lie.
Adieu, Adieu, All’s Vanity.
Then straight I ‘gin my heart to chide:
And did thy wealth on earth abide,
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the sky
That dunghill mists away may fly.
Thou hast a house on high erect
Fram’d by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished
Stands permanent, though this be fled.
It’s purchased and paid for too
By him who hath enough to do.
A price so vast as is unknown,
Yet by his gift is made thine own.
There’s wealth enough; I need no more.
Farewell, my pelf; farewell, my store.
The world no longer let me love;
My hope and Treasure lies above.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Anne Bradstreet's poem Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 18th


  1. belanie says:

    this poem was symbolic of Bradstreet’s ties to the church, but clear disdain of it. She was a Puritan and had been brought up under the church, and was expected to act in a certain way.
    This poem was able to express her true feelings, and get out her angst while also misleading people into thinking of her as a classic puritan

  2. Brad says:

    This poem isn’t about how she used religion to cope with the grief of losing her home to a fire. In fact, it’s statement about how she really felt horribly saddened about the great loss that had befallen her and her family, but because of the puritan culture in which she lived, she was unable to openly greave for the loss of her home.

    The poem itself is a frame, with the first part beginning as a sort of mantra of religious gobble-de-gook, which she had been no doubt been spoon-fed her entire life, but never truly adhered to. It’s no secret that Bradstreet struggled with her faith her entire life. Then in the middle part we get to see how she truly feels dreadful about her loss. There is an abrupt shift at the end of this section, whereupon the grief has become too much, and she quickly forces herself back into the scripted religious teachings—to which she undoubtedly holds no revelry.

    This abrupt shift in the tone of the Author is marked by the change in verse, where the poem changes from its steady iambic tetrameter to the jarring and declarative “Adieu, adieu” line. We as readers are supposed to understand that while in her heart-of-hearts she is truly grieved, the time and culture in which she lived would not permit her to express it—perhaps even to herself.

  3. joma says:

    this poem is good i like the deep meaning in the symbolism. take it from me, i like american literature.

  4. Gabrielle says:

    This poen is amazing not in the sense of tragedy but in the realization that wordly wealth, in the end, does not matter. Her faith in God brought happinness in the midst of her despair. She is greatful for what she does have still and today, in the world, the same idea is not portrayed in our lives. She sets an example that is necessary for us to follow.

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