Comparative Essay: Baca vs. Bradstreet
In Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poem entitled I, and Anne Bradstreet’s Verses Upon the
Burning of Her House, both write about their dreadful experience of the burning of their
homes. But the way in which each of the poets express this occurrence, with the use of
different styles of imagery and the diction, can change the way the reader interprets the
poem. The tone used by each poet is critical because it indicates to the reader their
emotions. Therefore, by comparing these poems of Baca and Bradstreet, it will be evident
that these elements of writing: tone, diction, and imagery; are crucial factors that will
affect the way a reader perceives a poem.
By analyzing the tones of these poems, one can see that they are virtually opposite.
In Baca’s poem, it is evident from the very beginning that he’s setting a tone of utter
disbelief and vulnerability. In the first stanza Baca states how he was “numbed” as he
turned the corner to his home, and braced his body to prepare for the “shock” he would
feel. The very second Baca saw his flaming home, he’s filled with horror and disbelief.
Near the end, when he walks into his room he falls to his hands and knees and looks
through the pile of ashes that once used to be his poems. This part of the poem symbolizes
his falling apart; when he falls to his hands and knees it shows the extent of his sorrow.
While Baca is torn apart, Bradstreet’s tone is ultimately one of acceptance. At first,
Bradstreet’s tone is one of grievance and lamenting, but in the middle of the poem it
changes in which she states that she shouldn’t grieve over the loss of a home that didn’t
belong to her; a home that belonged to the almighty man “that gave and took”. In this
quote, she’s referring to God as being all-powerful and that the house has always belonged
to him; and that he can give and take as he pleases. Therefore, she’s willing to accept the
burning of her home, if its Gods will.
The imagery in both poems is very descriptive and vivid. In second stanza, Baca
gives a vivid description of the busy scene, describing the crowd of neighbors and firemen
that had gathered around “the charred husk of our(Baca’s) house”. Through the whole
mess, Baca is struck with the reality that in his blazing home, were ten years worth of
poems up in flames. Baca’s vulnerability is shown later in the poem once all the people
have left and its just him with his burned home. He provides great imagery of the black,
charred rooms in his haunting house “brooding in its own black rebellion”. Unlike Baca,
Bradstreet isn’t as materialistic about the objects that she lost in her home. Throughout the
poem, she writes of all the things that she will no longer have that went up in flames, but
towards the end of the poem, she prevents her “heart to chide(break)”. She feels that the
only home she needs is the “house on high erect”, which is built by a person she calls the
“mighty Architect”. Here, she visualizes heaven as the only home she needs, and that if
she keeps her faith and composure, she will one day be able to reach the “Treasure” that
“lyes above”. Baca focus more on the burning of his home for his source of imagery, while
Bradstreet is more concerned with providing images of God, the man who will help her in
The use of diction and the form of each poem is very different in both poems. By
reading Baca’s poem it is very obvious that his poem is much more modern than
Bradstreet’s. His reference to a “fire-engine”, and “crackling walkie-talkies” is clear
evidence that Baca wrote his poem in a modern era. Also, the structure of his poem
doesn’t follow a rhyme-scheme and doesn’t have a certain amount of lines per stanza, once
again showing Baca’s contemporary style. On the other hand, Bradstreet’s “archaic”
language and her rigid structure show that she wrote her poem in a much earlier era.
Using words like “lye”, or “thee”, she gives the poem that archaic look. Also, unlike
Baca’s poem, Bradstreet’s poem is structured with rhymed-couplets, having six lines in
every stanza, every two lines having rhyming endings.
By comparing and contrasting the poems of both these authors, it’s obvious that
their experiences and reactions to their fierce realization with the burning of their homes
were totally opposite. Baca’s poem was full of sorrow and dejection, while Bradstreet’s
emotions showed faith and determination. The main reason for this change could be in the
fact that these authors lived in different time periods. Bradstreet lived during a Puritanical
era in which religion was the central part of life, while Baca lived in a more modern era
where materialistic things are of more importance. Which is why their diction and imagery