Criticism of the poem To my dear and loving husband by Anne Bradstreet

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Criticism of the poem “To my dear and loving husband” by Anne Bradstreet

In her poem “to my dear and loving husband”, Anne Bradstreet gives an expression of the love, commitment and devotion that a wife gives to her husband. The author of the poem uses figurative language, and declarative tone to convey the message that she intended to pass. According to Anne’s tone, we can tell that she wrote this poem to show how much she loved her husband. Her word choice is perfectly emotional and loving. She is metaphoric in her writing and uses analogous writing to define the love between the husband and her. She wrote most fo her literature in an unusually harsh condition where women were disregarded and more so in her community, the puritans. She was afflicted by various diseases including tuberculosis and smallpox, and this did not deter her from expressing her ideas through writing poems. A biographical, historical and feminist analysis of ‘To my dear and loving husband’ will reveal the emotions that ran through her mind as she wrote this poem.

In the Biography of Anne Bradstreet was born in Northampton London in 1612. She got married to Simon Bradstreet at the age of 16 (Rudrum et al,651). Simon was a 25 year old assistant working in the Massachusetts Bay company. They were both puritans. In 1630, Anne and her family flew to America in one of the ugliest scenes of that time. Many people died from harsh climatic conditions and poor living standards. It was a long three month journey that saw many people in the vessel that they were travelling in, perish. Besides the trials and temptations that Anne and her family went through, they were lucky enough to survive the journey. This was the colonial period, and things were pretty tough for Anne’s family. This explains the undying love that Anne had for her husband Simon. In the poem, she expresses “…Then while we live, in love let’s so persever…” (line 11), she tells her husband that she will always love him even in times of difficulty. Anne was a well educated girl who taught several languages, literature and history which explains her love for literary works such as her poems.

In the third line of the poem “if ever wife was happy in a man” (line 3), Anne expresses her happiness that she was married to a loving and caring husband. Anne’s health had deteriorated massively, and she had been afflicted by smallpox. Despite her sickness she was still able to have kids and raise them together with her husband. Anne was a strong and courageous woman because puritan women were never allowed to exhibit their intelligence and charm to their husbands(Rudrum et al,620). Anne’s love for poetry was based on her life’s experiences and love for her family. She was afflicted by many diseases such as smallpox and tuberculosis and despite all these her husband stood by her side.

The historical context in which Anne wrote the poem was in the colonial period. This was in the 17th century. She was an early feminist who self taught herself, and she was a literature enthusiast. Her works of literature show that she was a free thinker who expressed her emotions in the form of writing poems. The poem, ‘To my dear and loving husband’, shows her devotion to her husband and family. An interesting point to note is that Anne wrote this poem at a time when the atmosphere for searching knowledge was harsh, and women were neglected and considered being inferior to their men. They were traditional roles of the family and the quest for women to find knowledge was out of the question. That is why she dedicated this love poem to her husband because he was caring and loving enough to let his wife write the poem. In the fifth line, of the poem “…i prize thy love more than whole mines of gold…” Anne illustrates that her husband is truly precious to her. The use of paradox in the last line of the poem “…that when we live no more, we may live ever…” confirms that she will love her husband even after death. Anne risked her life to express her feelings to her husband contrary to the beliefs and values of the puritans at that time. Bradstreet was a jealous lover. In the fourth line “…compare with me, ye women, if you can…”, she wrote this to make other women envy what she had between her and the husband and that her love was more than the possessions of the east. Bradstreet also claims that her love for her husband could never fade (line 7). In the first line, of the poem Bradstreet writes “ if ever two were one, then surely we…”. When an indepth analysis of this phrase is studied, we see that Anne and her husband were a great team and whatever happened to one happened to both. It was a mutual affair. The poem also tells the reader that love needs perserverence (line 11), “…then while we live, in love let’s so persever…”. This shows that their love did not come on a silver platter and that they had to work for it despite the all the circumstances they came across.

Anne Bradstreet was a feminist during the colonial period. She was a devoted and religious member of the puritan community. In the puritan community, women were regarded to be inferior to their husbands and high levels of obedience were expected from them. No form of charm or intelligence was required from them. Anne was a very courageous woman to go against the beliefs of the community and write a poem that she dedicated to her husband. It was uncommon for women in the puritan community to express love and affection to their husbands. It was believed that women who showed their intelligence were bound to go mad in the puritan community. According to Bradstreet’s life history (Campbell 10), she was a very ambitious lady who taught herself literature and poetry at a very tender age. She was well educated and her love for poetry is evident as seen in this poem. She was a free thinker and expressed her ideas, thoughts and expressions in poetry. She describes her love to her husband as one that cannot be repayed(line 9) “…the love is such I can no way repay…”. the poem exhibits a loving and affectionate message to a husband from his wife something that was very uncommon in the community. Bradstreet went against all odds to look for knowledge in the colonial period even when conditions where very harsh. First as a scholar seeking knowledge and second as a woman who was seen to be an inferior person. Despite her illnesses she pursued her passion for literary works to write poems. In the poem, she prays that heaven rewards her husband for the love that he gave her (line 10) “… the heavens reward thee manifold, i pray…”. Anne uses metaphors to explain the affection that was between the two couples. In one instance, she compares her love to her husband with mines of gold. This shows that she treasures her husband more than anything in this world (line 5). In another example, she uses a metaphor to state that her love for her husband cannot be quenched by rivers. This illustrates that her love for the husband is undying (line 6).

In conclusion, Anne’s love poem is a great inspiration to many people. The poem greatly connects to the audience through the use of metaphors. This piece of literature mainly connects with the audience who are married. It tries to enlighten married people that a happy and successful marriage is not an easy task and both parties should show commitment and trustworthiness. This can be attributed to Anne’s poor health where she was affected by many diseases, but her husband persevered and together they made a family. Many marriages fail because the spouses do not persevere the difficult times that they go through and quite often married people give up too soon. This poem can be a good example to couples who feel that their marriage is not strong enough, and maybe this poem could shine some light. It is a great love poem that women can dedicate to their husbands.

Works cited

Hellen campbell. Anne Bradstreet and Her time. New York: Echo Library, 2007. Print

Alan Rudrum, Joseph L. Black, Holly F. Nelson. The Broadview anthology of seventeenth-century verse & prose. Broadview press, 2000. Print