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.
Explore To My Dear and Loving Husband
Summary of To My Dear and Loving Husband
‘To My Dear and Loving Husband’ by Anne Bradstreet is a love poem. It talks about the sweet relationship between the poet and her husband. Through this poem, the poet glorifies her loving husband. She feels like they are no different. They are one. There are no such materialistic things that can be compared with their feelings for one another. The poet has a thirst for the love of his husband and his heart has the thing the poet longs for. In fact, by writing this verse Anne Bradstreet wants to immortalize her love for her husband. As poetry is something that outlives men, their love will remain forever in these lines of the poem.
‘To My Dear and Loving Husband’ by Anne Bradstreet is a subjective poem about the poet’s love for her dear husband. The poetic persona in the poem, the poet herself, adopts an amorous tone in the poem. In each line of the poem, her tone emanates the spirit of love. She creates a mood of romance in the verse. The tone of the poem has a distinct quality in comparison to the romantic poems written by a man for his lady love. The womanly tone of the persona adds a different flavor to the poem. The cool and calm sensation of the soothing breeze of nature is there in the poem. There is also a tone of gratitude in the poem. The poet appears to be grateful for her husband’s presence in her life. For this reason, she says, “Thy love is such I can no way repay”.
‘To My Dear and Loving Husband’ by Anne Bradstreet is a short poem of twelve lines. The poet employs the closed couplet form in the poem. Every two lines of the poem are able to reflect the completeness of sense. It was famous at the time while Anne Bradstreet was writing this poem. As the poet uses the closed couplet form, the rhyme scheme of the poem naturally has to be a regular one. Likewise, the poet uses the regular rhyme scheme in the poem. The rhyme scheme of the poem is AA BB CC DD. It goes on like this until the end.
As an example, in the first two lines of the poem, “we” and “thee” rhyme together. In the following two lines, “man” and “can” are rhyming together. The last two lines contain “persever” and “ever”. These two words rhyme together in the mentioned lines. Such kind of rhyming of the poem maintains a fluid-like flow in the poem. It never halts in the middle. Like the love of the poet for her beloved husband never ceases.
‘My Dear and Loving Husband’ by Anne Bradstreet contains several important literary devices. Let’s have a look at the literary devices used in the poem. The first three lines of the poem begin with the same words “If ever”. It’s an example of anaphora. The second line of the poem contains a hyperbole. The poet uses hyperbole to emphasize her feelings for her husband. It’s not for mere exaggeration. Likewise, the poet uses another hyperbole in the next line. There is an apostrophe in the line, “Compare with me, ye women, if you can.”
There is a metonymy in the usage of the word “East” in the poem. The poet uses a personification in the line, “The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.” Here, an abstract concept “heaven” seems to be acting like a person who can give rewards. It is also a metonymy. The last line presents an antithesis. It also sounds like an epigram. There is greater truth behind this line.
‘To My Dear and Loving Husband’ by Anne Bradstreet contains some important metaphors in the poem. It is needless to say such poems with high intensity of emotions must contain metaphors to give poetic emotions wings to fly and a voice to sing. The poet uses a metaphor in the line, “I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold”. It refers to the invaluable quality of love. In the line, “My love is such that rivers cannot quench”, the poet compares her love to thirst. It is also another metaphorical reference to physical love. The poet uses a metaphor of a valuable object by using the word “repay” in the 9th line of the poem. In the last line of the poem, the phrase, “live ever” is a metaphorical reference to the immortal quality of art or a poem. It also refers to eternity.
Analysis, Line by Line
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.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
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.
If ever wife was happy in a man,Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
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.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
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 to another person far more than she could ever value any amount of material wealth.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
In the seventh line, she reveals that even though she is the 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”.
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
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.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
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).
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
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 being 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 acknowledgment 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.