Anne Bradstreet the Flesh and the Spirit Essay

Pages: 4 (1353 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

Anne Bradstreet's poem "The Flesh and the Spirit" is a diologue between sisters, who from the onset are developed, through language, more as one being with Spirit calling Flesh her "unregenerate part" attempting to challenge conflicting drives of the body and the spirit. Bradstreet describes her "sisters" as twins that are so completely different that one (Spirit) sets a goal of laying the other (Flesh) to dust. The language Bradstreet utilizes to develop her very honest reflection on the draw of the world, as apposed to the draw of the ethereal is eloquent and honest.

"Be still, thou unregenerate part,/Disturb no more my settled heart,/for I have vow'd (and so will do)/Thee as a foe still to pursue,/and combat with thee will and must/Until I see thee laid in th' dust./Sister we are, yea twins we be,/Yet deadly feud 'twixt thee and me,/for from one father are we not./Thou by old Adam wast begot,/but my arise is from above,/Whence my dear father I do love. (Bradstreet)

Bradstreet describes Flesh as the product of Adam, while Spirit is the product of God. Yet, as different as they are the two are intertwined, encompassing the same time and place as both are in constant trails to sway the other through temptation (Flesh) and piety (Spirit). Flesh taunts Spirit constantly, by teasing her about her focus on the ethereal "Sister," quoth Flesh, "what liv'st thou on Nothing but Meditation?" And telling of the beauty and fun that can be had from earthly pleasures,

Earth hath more silver, pearls, and gold/Than eyes can see or hands can hold./

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Affects thou pleasure? Take thy fill./Earth hath enough of what you will./Then let

not go what thou maist find/for things unknown only in mind." (Bradstreet)

The diction of the work, especially in the passages associated with Flesh's convincing discussion about the pleasures of the world, sway the reader to a point where he or she might see that it is foolish to hope for pleasure in an unseen world.

Hast treasures there laid up in store/That all in th' world thou count'st but poor?/

Essay on Anne Bradstreet the Flesh and the Spirit Assignment

Art fancy-sick or turn'd a Sot/to catch at shadows which are not?/Come, come. I'll show unto thy sense,/Industry hath its recompence./What canst desire, but thou maist see/True substance in variety? (Bradstreet)

Flesh taunts Spirit with what she can see, asking her to seek to look upon all the variety and beauty that can be gotten from the fruits of one's earthly labor.

Earth hath more silver, pearls, and gold/Than eyes can see or hands can hold./Affects thou pleasure? Take thy fill./Earth hath enough of what you will./Then let not go what thou maist find/for things unknown only in mind." (Bradstreet)

Flesh says to Spirit, there is nothing that one desires that cannot be found upon the earth, while Spirit responds with a strong rebuttal, describing the heavenly world in such a way that the ethereal becomes earthly, but simply more glorious. Spirit rejects Flesh with these words.

Thy flatt'ring shews I'll trust no more./How oft thy slave hast thou me made/When I believ'd what thou hast said/and never had more cause of woe/Than when I did what thou bad'st do./I'll stop mine ears at these thy charms/and count them for my deadly harms./Thy sinful pleasures I do hate,/Thy riches are to me no bait./Thine honours do, nor will I love,/for my ambition lies above. (Bradstreet)

The frustration of language becomes clear when one focuses on the manner in which Bradstreet describes heavenly riches, as the product and place of heaven, is to be seen as a shimmering almost Aristotelian true image, as apposed to what is earthly simply encompassing a shadow of the "real" ethereal heavenly things

The hidden Manna I do eat;/the word of life, it is my meat./My thoughts do yield me more content/Than can thy hours in pleasure spent./nor are they shadows which I catch,/nor fancies vain at which I snatch/but reach at things that are so high,/Beyond thy dull Capacity./Eternal substance I do see/With which inriched I would be./Mine eye doth pierce the heav'ns… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Anne Bradstreet the Flesh and the Spirit."  Essaytown.com.  September 30, 2008.  Accessed February 26, 2020.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/anne-bradstreet-flesh-spirit/31555.