To My Dear and Loving Husband Analysis and Summary: Anne Bradstreet

Read our detailed notes below on the poem “To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet. Our notes cover To My Dear and Loving Husband analysis, summary, themes, and background.

To My Dear and Loving Husband Introduction:

Anne Bradstreet was born in Northampton shire, England in 1612 as Anne Dudley. At the age of 16, she married Bradstreet, a Cambridge graduate and raised eight children. She, along with her husband and children migrated to America where she became one of the leading poets who penned English verses in American colonies. Her poems were first published in 1650 by her brother-in-law, supposedly without her knowledge, under the title The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America, Bradstreet was paid a tribute by John Berryman, in 1956, in his poem Homage to Mistress Bradstreet.

To My Dear and Loving Husband was written between 1641 and 1643 and was first published in 1678, six years after her death, in The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America. This publication bids a complete discourse and description of The Four Elements of the constitution, Ages of Man, The Four Humors, and Seasons of Years.

To My Dear and Loving Husband is a short sonnet, contains twelve verses, unlike traditional Shakespearean sonnet, which has fourteen verses. Bradstreet showed her love for her husband in loads of poems, which also includes To My Dear and Loving Husband. This poem is a reminder of traditional love sonnets by Shakespeare about love.

To My Dear and Loving Husband Summary:

To My Dear and Loving Husband, by Anne Bradstreet, is a personal poem in which she adores her husband and values his love more than any other material treasures. Bradstreet hopes that their corporeal union at Earth lasts as a spiritual union in heaven. She visions earthly love as a symbol of mystical union and redemption, as compared to something profane.

This poem is a classic Puritan poem that offers a contemporary reader a perception of Puritan’s outlook on love, marriage, and God. In this personal poem, the poet demonstrates an idea of Puritan’s physical urge might be proclaimed as the closest thing on earth to paradise. Though, the narrator’s affection for her husband almost appears to overshadow her commitment to God. It is one of the Christians believe that earthly union expires at death, yet the speaker wishes the union with her husband lasts after the death.

Every verse of the poem is a manifestation of love. Bradstreet claims the vastness of her love by saying how incredible it is to describe, appraise, and repay. She exaggerated her love for her husband and sensationalizes the main theme that love can’t be translated. The speaker (wife) declares that her marriage unveils many ideals linked with marriage in her bygone age. Bradstreet claims that she, along with her husband, is just like two bodies and one soul and both of them have a strong affection for each other; as love in her marriage is not unrequited or one-sided.

The speaker describes the nature of her love by saying that one can quench his/her thirst by drinking all the water from all the rivers; however, her thirst of love and affection for her husband cannot be quenched.

The husband’s love for her wife is such that she, in no way, can repay his love. The speaker claims that the God can reward you for your affection towards me but I cannot love you (repay) the way you deserve.

In the last two stanzas, the poet claims that if they are steadfast in their love and then they die; it will be only their physical death. The last two verses are like the ending couplet of a traditional sonnet; it recapitulates, explains, and resolves the poem. The poem terminate with a biblical kind of irony which expresses more strongly than a conventional sentence would: thus, we should love one another too much so that we could live ever even when we no longer live.

To My Dear and Loving Husband Themes:

Following are the major themes of the poem To My Dear and Loving Husband:

Love:

To My Dear and Loving Husband is one best example of unconditional, irresistible, and everlasting love. The poet devotes the majority of the poem approaching with various ways to designate her love and affection for her husband that is so powerful, she claims that even a river cannot “quench it”. The poet, in addition to her love, also mentions her husband’s love and affection towards her. In the second last stanza, she claims she can’t “repay” her husband’s love that he has for her. Similarly, the speaker ad that the love between her and her husband is so strong that it couldn’t vanish with death. It is immortal.

Marriage:

The title of the poem, To My Dear and Loving Husband, describes one the themes of poem i.e. marriage. The poem illustrates the seamless combination of two people. The poet and her husband, both, love each other and have such a great affection each other that they essentially are one person. The speaker says that the love between her and her husband is not an unrequited love. However, both of them are living a desirable marriage life that one can only dream of.

Death:

Death is undeniable fact of life. Every mortal has to taste the death once in his/her life. The speaker also speaks of death in her poem but her approach towards death is quit different. She says one might vanish from the earth after the death, yet with the love and affection, one can live forever in the hearts of people after death. Likewise, in the last two verses of the poem, the speaker discusses in what way the love between her and her husband could let them live persistently and forever.

Religion:

Anne Bradstreet is a woman puritan and this is a classical puritan poem and offers contemporary reader a perception of puritan’s outlook to love, marriage and God. In this personal poem, the poet demonstrates an idea of Puritan’s physical urge might be proclaimed as the closest thing on earth to paradise. The poet, subtly referring to the Bible, describes love in the first few verses. Similarly, in the last verses, she describes the fundamental to immortality and redemption.

To My Dear and loving Husband Analysis:

Lines 1-2:

The speaker begins the poem by revealing the true nature of her matrimonial bonding with her husband. She depicts her affection and true love for her husband by claiming that if any two people in their marriage life are ever united together as if they are one person, assuredly she and her husband are the best examples.

In the second line, the speaker assures her husband that if any man in the entire world is ever truly loved by his wife, then surely that man is you. The speaker confidently claims her love for her husband by saying that she loves him more than any other woman who loves his man.

Lines 3-4

In these lines, the speaker now reassures her husband of his love and affection towards her. She says that she is very much happy in their matrimonial life. She claims that if any woman is ever happy with his man, then surely she is one of them. Moreover, she challenges the audience that she is much happier than any other happily married women and asks for comparison.

Line 5-6

In these lines, the speaker asserts that her husband’s love is worthier than any other material riches of the world. She entitles that she values her husband’s love “more than whole mines of gold”, and is well-intentioned than “all the riches that the East doth hold”. This demonstrates that the speaker worth the human sensation of affection in association and obligation with another person more than she may possibly value any expanse of substantial wealth.

Line 7-8

In these lines, the speaker describes the nature of her love. She says that by drinking water from all the rivers of the world, one can quench his/her thirst; but her thirst of love for her husband is such that it can’t be quench even by drinking water from any river. No matter how much she loves her husband, she is never fully satisfied and wishes to love him more than before.

Lines 9-10

In these lines, the speaker makes the readers know that her love for her husband is not an unrequited love, rather her husband, too, loves her and even more than her. She shows gratitude to her husband for such a love that she cannot repay. She claims that only God can reward him for his love for her.

Lines 11-12

In the last two stanzas, the poet claims that if they are steadfast in their love and then they die; it will be only their physical death. The last two verses are like the ending couplet of a traditional sonnet; it recapitulates, explains, and resolves the poem. The poem terminate with a biblical kind of irony which expresses more strongly than a conventional sentence would: thus, we should love one another too much so that we could live ever even when we no longer live.

Rhyming Scheme:

To My Dear and Loving Husband is a twelve lines sonnet by Anne Bradstreet having a rhyming scheme of aabbccdd eeff.

Speaker:

This is a personal poem of Anne Bradstreet in which she speaks as a happily married wife. The title To My dear and Loving Husband signifies the amazing chemistry in her matrimonial relation.

Setting:

The poem is about Anne’s personal life and there is no significant hint of setting in the poem.

Structure Analysis:

The poem To My Dear and Loving Husband written in iambic pentameter. The whole poem is in the form of a rhyming couplet with the exception of 8th line that doesn’t completely rhyme with the 7th line. Yet, the last words “quench” and “recompense”, in the seventh and eight line, contains –en which is an optional use of near or slant rhyme.

Figures of Speech:

Following are the figures of speech in the poem To My Dear and Loving Husband:

  • Anaphora:

By repetition of “if ever” at the beginning of 1st three verse/lines of the poem, we see the use of anaphora by the poet. Anaphora is anticipated to produce an influential sense of a constant arrangement of words.

  • Alliteration:

Beside anaphora, the poet uses alliteration to create rhyme and rhythm in the poem. For example:

  1. If ever two were one, then surely we.
  2. If ever wife was happy in a man.
  3. Then while we live, in love let’s so persevere.


Diction:

The poem is very simple and easy to understand. The poet uses very simple words, however some archaic words like “thy” meaning “your”, “doth” meaning “does”.