Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2018


This essay examines the curious belatedness of Anne Bradstreet's elegies for Philip Sidney, Guillaume du Bartas, and Elizabeth I in The Tenth Muse (1650). The elegies point toward a broader pattern of "untimeliness" in The Tenth Muse, a result of ongoing tension between two temporal registers: the historical past and the present tense of poetic address. This tension appears as a key theme in "The Four Monarchies," Bradstreet's long verse history, before emerging as a central conflict in the elegies. The untimeliness of these elegies reflects the contradictions of Bradstreet's transatlantic worldmaking, a project trailed throughout by a worrying sense of her own lateness. These poems exhibit a temporal distance that forecloses the recovery of a lost English unity. The Tenth Muse thus asks us to see worldmaking as a problem not just of space but also of time. That challenge lies at the heart of the volume's elegies, which conjure a world of their own through the immediacy of the lyric now—even as they wrestle with the demands of historical occasion.


Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2018 pp. 100-123. doi: 10.1353/jem.2019.0005