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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

“The Author to Her Book” is a poem about motherhood, in a way. The speaker compares her book to a child, which she treats in a traditional, maternal way. She tries to clothe it, protect it, nurture it, wash its face, and the like. The speaker implies, in other words, that being a poet or an author is a lot like being a mother. This is a pretty radical move, especially considering the fact that the poem was written in an era when being a poet was a more manly activity. Strangely, there are no men in this poem, except near the end, which is where the speaker flat out says her book had no “father,” only a mother. Wow.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. Is the book a male or female? Do we have any way of knowing? Does it matter?
  2. How does the speaker feel about traditional female roles, like motherhood and parenting, for example?
  3. Does this poem give us any indication of what life may have been like for seventeenth-century American women?
  4. What do you make of the father’s absence? Does this make the female author’s “job” harder? Or does it indicate that this book is special because a woman was able to do it? What parts of the poem support your answer?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Guy stuff?! The care and nurture required to write and revise poetry is something that comes more naturally to woman than men. That’s the implication here, it seems.

This poem makes the powerful argument that women can write poetry just as well as men, even without their help. So there, fellas.

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