‘To My Daughter On Being Separated from Her on Her Marriage‘ by Anne Hunter is a three-stanza poem that is separated into sets of six lines or sestets. These sets of lines follow a rhyming pattern of ababcc dedece fgfgcc.
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Summary of To My Daughter On Being Separated from Her on Her Marriage
The poem begins with the speaker stating that her life is charged, and driven, by her love for her daughter. This love is to her as important as her own soul; her own spark of being that makes her “mortal clay” sentient. All is not well in her world, though.
The speaker and her daughter have been separated for an extended period of time and it is only the thought of possibly seeing her daughter again in the future that sustains the speaker. It is this fact alone that makes her smile when she thinks of “the future day,” and allows her to get through “the present pain” of life.
In the second stanza, the speaker describes what she hopes it will be like when the two of them are reunited. She wants their familiar love for one another to be rejuvenated and become just as strong as it once was.
Additionally, the speaker admits to some doubt over whether she will ever see her daughter again. This doubt comes into the narrative in the last two lines of the stanza as if she is just now admitting it to herself. It passes as quickly as it came, as she finishes the poem.
In the final six lines, the speaker addresses the main subject of the piece, her daughter’s marriage. She truly hopes that the man her daughter married is as good as her daughter is and that he deserves her. The speaker knows that if this is the case, then her daughter has been “fairly won.”
The last two lines profess, once more, the speaker’s desire to see her daughter again and her enduring hope that this will happen.
Analysis of To My Daughter On Being Separated from Her on Her Marriage
Dear to my heart as life’s warm stream
Which animates this mortal clay,
For thee I court the waking dream,
And deck with smiles the future day;
And thus beguile the present pain
With hopes that we shall meet again.
The speaker begins To My Daughter On Being Separated from Her on Her Marriage by describing the love and devotion she feels for her daughter, from whom she has been separated for an extended period of time. The speaker vehemently regrets this fact and longs for the day when they will “meet again.”
In the first three lines the mother, and speaker, state that her daughter is as “Dear to [her] heart” as the spark that gives her life within her “mortal clay.” Her love is tied up in her very existence, they are one and the same. It is for her daughter that she lives, and the hope of seeing her again sustains her in day to day life.
The speaker’s daughter is the only reason that her mother is able to “deck with smiles” the days of the future and set aside her “present pain.”
Yet, will it be as when the past
Twined every joy, and care, and thought,
And o’er our minds one mantle cast
Of kind affections finely wrought?
Ah no! the groundless hope were vain,
For so we ne’er can meet again!
In the second stanza, the speaker professes some doubt over the possibility of seeing her daughter again. Even if they were to “meet again,” things would not be as they were.
She asks, with hope, in the first lines of this stanza, if when they meet again if their “joy, and care and thought,” will consume them with “kindly affections,” as happened in the past. She deeply desires that their emotions and interactions will hold the same “finely wrought” similarities. In the last two lines of this section the speaker, who seems to have been obsessing over this detail for a considerable period of time, admits her doubt.
The mother does not really think they will ever meet again, and if they do, her “hope” will have been “groundless” and nothing will be as it was. Too much time and too much distance have passed between them.
May he who claims thy tender heart
Deserve its love, as I have done!
For, kind and gentle as thou art,
If so beloved, thou art fairly won.
Bright may the sacred torch remain,
And cheer thee till we meet again!
In the final stanza of To My Daughter On Being Separated from Her on Her Marriage, the speaker renews her hope for the future while also turning to the main point of this piece.
The reader will be reminded by the title of the poem that this was meant to be a well-wishing send-off after a daughter’s marriage. Now, the mother/speaker is addressing this fact.
She hopes for her daughter’s sake that “he,” (her new husband), “who claims thy tender heart” is deserving of its love. As any caring mother would, she wants the best for her daughter and, although she may never see her again, desires that her daughter’s husband is a good man. Someone who can match his own goodness against her daughter’s, as she has done. The speaker believes that she deserved her daughter’s love, and this gives her a standard to which the husband can be held up.
The last three lines of the stanza state that if the husband is indeed a good man, as the mother hopes, then she will be content that her daughter was “fairly won.”
The poem concludes with the speaker stating that as long as the previously mentioned requirements are fulfilled than their happiness and love for one another will sustain. Their “torch” will remain lit until the two are reunited.
About Anne Hunter
Anne Hunter was born in 1742 and was the daughter of a surgeon. She would marry another surgeon, John Hunter, with whom she had four children, two of whom died as babies. It was common for the Hunter household to play host to a number of different literary minds and be the source of many intellectual discussions.
Some of Hunter’s first published pieces were song lyrics, one of which, “Adieu ye streams that softly glide,” was published in two different songbooks. She would go on to collaborate with the composer Franz Joseph Haydn on a number of projects and contribute lyrics to his Canzonettas. Her first poetry was published anonymously in the 1790s. The collections, Poems, and The Sports of Genii were released in 1802 and 1804. These were the first to be published under the name Mrs. John Hunter. Anne Hunter died in 1821.