Analysis of Anne Bradstreet’s Poem to My Dear and Loving Husband
“To My Dear and Loving Husband” is a poem written by Anne Bradstreet in 1678. In her poem, Bradstreet describes her love for her husband and their relationship; using the major themes of romantic poetry: love, emotion, nature, imagination, and social class. She describes her love for her husband and talks about all the things she would give up for him, and how much she values their relationship. She presents an ideal model of true love and portrays the between man and woman. Bradstreet is thus successfully able to convey a theme of love and marriage through positive diction, figurative language, and effective syntax. Like most literature, this poem uses multiple rhetoric devices to emphasize the relationship the author and her husband have, and heighten the romantic theme within the poem.
In the first 4 lines, Bradstreet uses repetition to prove how genuine their love is. She then proceeds to ask others to compare their relationships to hers. She writes the repeated phrase “If ever” in the first 3 lines to show that her marriage is the best version of marriage that one could have. In line 4 however, the focus shifts. Instead of comparing her marriage to the ideal marriage, she asks others to compare their marriage to hers. This emphasizes how confident she is that her marriage is the , and it can’t be any better than that. This further adds to the poem, making its purpose even clearer, helping the reader to better understand and analyse the overall meaning of the poem; it introduces the main idea of the poem which is the couple’s relationship. Furthermore, in lines 7 and 10-12 she describes the intensity of their love, and engages the reader with the poem by using phrases like “the Heavens” and “we may live ever”.
The phrase “The Heavens” includes the moon, the sun, the stars, and the clouds, all of which create a beautiful and dreamy image. Bradstreet is a religious Christian woman; she believes in Heaven and believes that it is meant for some people only. According to Christianity, Heaven is the good place in the afterlife. It is paradise for people who were good on Earth. She wants them to be reunited in Heaven, making it clear that she believes they are good people. Heaven gives a positive, peaceful, and happy connotation. It helps establish the theme by contributing with its positive connotations. On the other hand, the phrase “We may live ever” refers to her Puritan background, as the Puritans believed that the union of lovers in heaven depends on their earthly love. In the late 16th century, the Puritans were part of a religious reform movement known as Puritanism, which originated within the Church of England. They felt that the Church of England was too close to the Roman Catholic Church and that rituals and activities not rooted in the Bible should be removed. These two phrases, along with her word choice and repetition made the overall tone of the poem romantic. In addition to that, Bradstreet also uses figurative language to emphasize her love and devotion to her husband.
Afterall, one of the most effective devices used by Bradstreet is figurative language. Throughout the poem, she uses many different types of it and they all play an important role in the poem. In lines 5 and 6, she uses hyperbole to emphasize the depth of her love. Of course, we can’t say she doesn’t prize her husband’s love more than whole mines of gold and all the riches the East holds, but this appeals as very hyperbolic to readers. The descriptions in these lines also affect the tone, as they include words with positive connotations like “gold” and “riches”, thus further enhancing the romantic tone of the poem. They enhance the tone because they give the reader a feeling of luxury and peace. They make the reader feel like love can represent wealth on its own, and that if you have love, you don’t need all the riches of the world. In line 5, she uses a metaphor that says that lots of gold is amazing, but her love for him is stronger, and unmatched. Finally, Bradstreet
also uses allusion in line 7. She uses a religious allusion from Solomon’s Biblical Song, which states, “My love is such that rivers cannot quench.” She uses this not only to highlight her love again, but also to link her affection with the Biblical portrayal of love. Not only is this line beautiful and obviously fits well with the rest of the poem (as the poem is full of figurative language and words with the same overall connotations), but it also includes figurative language (hyperbole), which helps establish the main idea of the poem: her love for her husband. Although the poem had no underlying, hidden, or complex meanings, it did have a lot of figurative language.
Anne Bradstreet is direct with the purpose of the poem and with the overall meaning, but she did not use simple sentences. Readers have to infer the meaning of the lines based on their understanding of the used figurative language, however once it is understood, the theme and purpose become very clear. Furthermore, since it was written during 1678, some pronouns and verbs were slightly different, like the archaic words “thee”, “ye”, “thy”, and “doth” she frequently used. Meaning “you”, “you”, “your”, and “does” respectively. These words are easily understood by readers though as their meaning can easily be inferred from the sentences and they are commonly used in literature.
The point of view in this poem is a first person point of view. It is clear that Anne Bradstreet is talking about her own love for her husband and we can infer that from her usage of personal pronouns like “I”, “my”, and “we”. She says that the two of them have become one, and says she would choose him and their love over all the riches and gold. She presents her love as the ideal love and says she would give anything up for her husband. The reader knows she is committed because she wants them to last forever in the afterlife, and she believes she can make it that way by making sure their earthly love is strong enough. She links her religious beliefs to their love. She says that she cannot repay his love because she believes that the greatest source of love is God, so she prays in line 10 that “the Heavens” will recognise her husband and all of his good and treat him accordingly. The entire poem is based on her own experiences and her own love and therefore everything a reader infers is automatically about Bradstreet’s life and personal relationships.
In conclusion, Anne Bradstreet uses multiple rhetorical devices, including but not limited to repetition, figurative language, and using a first person point of view to develop the theme of romance and love. She uses these devices to convey to her readers the love she has for her husband with the end goal of proving to them that her marriage is the idealistic relationship. Although the readers don’t know any details about their marriage specifically, they do know that it models the best version of a marriage. All in all, Bradstreet is successful at developing the theme, proving to her readers that her relationship is perfect, and she effectively conveys the overall message of the poem.