To read To my Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet in modern day, 21st century America, is kind of like stepping into a daydream. In a society where the majority of marriages fail, scandal runs rampant, and divorce is almost expected, this poem by Anne Bradstreet is like a breath of fresh air. Her deep and genuine love for her husband is clear and evident.
To my Dear and Loving Husband Analysis
She begins the poem, To my Dear and Loving Husband, with a proclamation.
“If ever two were one, then surely we”.
This reveals her truly deep love for her husband by claiming that if any two people in the history of marriages have ever been bonded together as though they were one person, then surely she and her husband are bonded together in this deep and intimate way.
In the second line, Bradstreet reassures her husband of her own love and commitment to him by claiming that she loves him as much as any woman as ever loved a man. This is a great claim, as there are countless lovers in the world. But she is confident that she loves her husband as much as any woman has ever loved a man.
In the third and fourth lines, she reassures her husband that she is happy with him. She challenges him to compare her with any other woman and see that she herself is happiest of all women because she is married to him.
In the fifth and sixth lines, she proclaims to her husband that his love is worth far more to her than any amount of money could ever be worth. She claims that she values his love “more than whole mines of gold” and even more than “all the riches that the East doth hold”. This shows that she values the human feeling of love in connection and commitment with another person far more than she could ever value any amount of material wealth.
In the seventh line, she reveals that even though she is happiest of women, she does not count herself fully satisfied, because the nature of her love for him is such that she feels she can never get enough. This is why she says. “My love is such that rivers cannot quench”.
In the eighth line, she reveals her gratitude for being the recipient of her husband’s love, by claiming that she could never “recompense” his love. This shows that she feels so loved by her husband that she doesn’t believe she could ever make him feel as loved as he has made her feel.
In the ninth line, she reiterates her thought that his love is deeper than what she could ever return by saying, “Thy love is such I can no way repay”. And since she doesn’t believe that she herself could ever repay her husband for the love he has bestowed on her, she prays to God that He will bless her husband in reward for the way he has loved his wife (line 10).
She ends To my Dear and Loving Husband by claiming that they will persevere in love until the end. Bradstreet has no doubt that she and her husband will stay married and in love until one passes from this life to the next. This is revealed when she says, “Then while we live, in love let’s so persever”.
The final line of this poem ends with a small glimpse into the next life. She says, “That when we live no more, we may live ever”. This line suggests that their love with be eternal. She believes that even after this life is over, they will continue to be in love for all of eternity.
Anne Bradstreet Background
Anne Bradstreet was one of the very first women to publish any poetry or works of literature in America. She was a Puritan, and so she believed in life after death, and put her hope in this belief. This is shown in the last two lines of To my Dear and Loving Husband. Bradstreet had many intellectual ideas, and loved to discuss religion. She enjoyed nature and writing, and she became a beacon of hope for many female writers who wished to be acknowledged for their intellect. Although Bradstreet adhered to the male hierarchy promoted in her society at this time, one must remember that she was a Puritan, and that under her influence and beliefs, she did her best to promote the acknowledgement of the intellect and ability of women everywhere. Bradstreet did not fight the system, as many later women would, but this is perhaps because in her personal experience, she had a loving father, and a loving and gentle husband, and so she promoted women within the context of male hierarchy. She did not, apparently, personally feel the oppression many women must have felt at her time. This poem particularly reveals that, as Anne seems to have been in a loving and genuine marriage in which her husband did not oppress her, but loved and esteemed her.