Study Guide

The Prologue Memory and The Past

By Anne Bradstreet

Memory and The Past

At a few key points, the speaker of "The Prologue" goes back to the past (no Deloreans necessary) for a little bit of backup. The way she sees it, the ancient Greeks might have had better ideas about women and poetry than the men of her time. Combine that with a casual reference to Demosthenes, and you have a woman who knows and cares about classical history, and isn't afraid to show it. Talking about the ancient Greeks is a way to remind her potential critics that they're dealing with an educated woman here. En garde, fellas.

Questions About Memory and The Past

  1. Why do you think the ancient Greeks play such a prominent role in this poem? What does our speaker see in them that makes her keep bringing them up?
  2. Do you feel like this poem gives you a window into the past? Do you have a better understanding of the world Bradstreet lived in? Why or why not?
  3. Why does the speaker start out by saying that she can't write about history? Is there something particularly masculine about the past?
  4. Can we learn important things about our world from the past? Do you think this poem has something to teach us about art and men and women in the world today?

Chew on This

Going back to the ancient Greeks allows the speaker to teach her male critics a lesson, and also to show off how much she knows in the process (face, guys… face).

The poem starts by saying it'll stay away from the past, but then it goes back to it over and over again. The speaker's kinda like a pool hustler—she talks down her game, and then kicks your rear end.

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