The Flesh and the Spirit

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Anne Bradstreet’s poem “The Flesh and the Spirit” shows us the duality of man that her audience was having to deal with at the spiritual level. While this poem was written back in 1643 it still shows us as Christians what we have come from and how easy it would be to go back to a life of the “flesh”. This poem also goes about giving us details about what we should be striving for and what we have to look forward to if we strive toward the real or ultimate goals or rather possessions.

The poem is written in two different parts starting with the ways and things of the flesh, that being material possessions that are for our enjoyment here on earth. The second part consists of more spiritual based “possessions” and also chastises the sister living among the earthly treasures she has laid up for herself. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter meaning that each line has a total of eight syllables. Bradstreet writes this poem full of metaphors and is very illustrative with the language that she wrote it in. Bradstreet was a Puritan and this poem is filled with religious symbolism and references that would be apparent to her readers.

At the start of the poem the first sister is called “Flesh” and while this sister is very materialistic she wants her sister to enjoy some of the pleasures that she enjoys. The part of Flesh is from lines 10-37 to which she is going on about the wonders that this world has to offer. Lines like “Hast treasures there laid up in store” (16) and “Art fancy sick, or turn a sot” (18) show us that Flesh is interested in things such as the treasures and art this world has to offer. Flesh tells us that there is more gold, silver and pearls than anyone can imagine here on earth and she basically is insisting that her sister take up some of the riches that are around.

The way that Flesh talks to her sister is similar to the way that Satan talked to Jesus in the wilderness. Flesh is telling Spirit all the wonderful things of this earth and...
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