In ann Bradstreet’s poem, “The Flesh and the Spirit,” our speaker overhears a conversation between two sisters, Flesh, the embodiment that base human being desire and also worldly pleasures, and Spirit, the embodiment of faith and trust in God and also Heaven. Together Flesh covets greed and material wealth, Spirit really hopes to reap greater rewards in the afterlife. In a similar fashion to several of her other poems such together “The four Elements” and “The four Seasons,” Bradstreet personifies abstract ideas through female characters who weigh their merits in the form of a conversational debate.

In mystery place where as soon as I stoodClose by the banks of Lacrim flood,I heard two sisters reason onThings that space past and also things to come.One Flesh to be call"d, who had actually her eyeOn worldly wealth and also vanity;The various other Spirit, who did rearHer thoughts unto a higher sphere.

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What is most amazing to me around this move is that she represents her personalities as females, and in certain in this poem, as twin sisters. This move—allowing women to stand for universal human concerns—subverts conventional concepts of representation in literary works. Traditionally, males room often depicted as embodiments of an effective entities like gods or elements, and when women are present, lock are regularly lesser gods or entities who suffer dominance under woman powers. By representing the Earth and the Heavens together females, Bradstreet highlights the prominence of femininity in universal beings and truths.


Engraving by Isabella Piccini native Poesie Liriche Di Baldassarre Pisani (Venice, 1676). Brother Library 11429.df.1.

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The conflict in between these 2 female speakers is intense, as they represent two opposite ideals. Flesh is presented together a vain and also base being, lot like the evil one sent to corruption Adam and Eve. Flesh says that spirituality alone cannot meet the body and its needs, and also tries to tempt soul by saying, “Earth hath an ext silver, pearls, and gold,/Than eyes can see or hands have the right to hold…take her fill,/Earth hath enough of what girlfriend will” (lines 34-35). Despite Flesh’s attempt, spirit is adamant about her faith in Heaven and also God above, together she says “Thy sinful pleasures I execute hate,/Thy riches are to me no bait,…/My thoughts perform yield me much more content/Than deserve to thy hrs in satisfied spent” (lines 58-59, 70-71). Soul shows greater resolve in the confront of Flesh’s offers, and seeks no the prizes of ours world but of Heaven, and also for that she is willing to provide up any kind of Earthly pleasures for pleasures she believes lie in the afterlife. This emotion is reminiscent of Bradstreet’s own spiritual devotion and also no doubt she would favor her speak to convey the article of Heaven’s eternal pleasures of that over earth fleeting ones.

The concealed Manna I perform eat; words of life, it is mine meat. Mine thoughts do yield me more content Than can thy hrs in pleasure spent.

What I discover so interesting around this city is the animosity that heart feels towards her sister, as she swears, “thee together a adversary still to pursue./And combat with thee will and must,/Until I view thee to adjust in th’ dust” (lines 41-43) i m sorry reads together aggressive and also violent towards Flesh. Flesh is treated not only as Earth and also human desire yet as sin itself, which, in turn, reflects the idea that humanity and also Earth space evils to be battled by the spirit. Spirit also goes as much to to speak that earth holds “trash” (line 81) contrasted to what lies in Heaven, i m sorry is a an unfavorable outlook on human being life ~ above Earth. In the last two lines, soul forsakes the Earth and also people, “If i of sky may have actually my fill,/Take you the world and also all that will,” in return because that what the heavens need to offer. Probably this idea appears so too much to me due to the fact that I perform not re-publishing the same religious zeal as Bradstreet did, but her character of Spirit shows up adamantly antagonistic come the world and its people. While flesh is probably too greedy and also materialistically obsessed, ns wonder if Bradstreet supposed for us to discover a cons in Spirit, who appears to have no confidence or id in humans and also the Earth. While that can conveniently be said that our planet has experienced numerous horrible tragedies and humans can act quite sinfully, it likewise can be said that our people has given us numerous beautiful wonders, such as poetry, nature, and also human relationships.

From sickness and infirmity Forevermore castle shall it is in free. No one withering age shall e"re come there, yet beauty shall it is in bright and also clear. This City pure is no for thee, For things unclean over there shall no be. If ns of Heav"n may have actually my fill, take it thou the world, and also all that will."