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“To My Dear and Loving Husband” is a poem by Anne Bradstreet that talks about eternal love between a married couple and the poet’s gratefulness towards experiencing this love.
About the poet
Anne Bradstreet is an important figure in the world of Literature. She is the first recognized woman to be accomplished as a New World Poet. First Puritan, mostly known for her poems. Her poems carry themes of nature, culture, mortality, faith and doubts, and spirituality.
“To My Dear and Loving Husband” is a poem of twelve lines composed in closed couplets form and consists of six rhyming couplets. The poem carries an amorous tone and romantic mood throughout.
Summary and Analysis
If ever two were one, then surely we.
The speaker proclaims, If two different individuals can ever be one, then it is the poet and her husband, as they are one through their marriage. They are one in a spiritual sense which describes their innate love for each other.
From the title of the poem, “To My Dear and Loving Husband”. Anne Bradstreet reveals that she wrote and dedicated this poem to her husband. The poem begins with the first line that explains the deep and transcendental love that husband and wife carry.
Despite being two different individuals, it’s almost as if they are one single person. This is shared in the first line where the poet says if two people can ever be one, then it’s them as they are already one.
This “one” refers to the physical intimacy that a couple shares to be together and one. It also refers to the spiritual and emotional side of marriage and gives us an insight into the concept of codependency. These things are unknowingly practised among couples.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever a husband was loved by his wife, then it is you who is loved. Like all husbands are loved by their wives, the poet reassures her husband that he too is loved immensely by his wife.
The speaker in the next line assures her husband that she loves him as much as any wife has ever loved her husband. All married couples share a deep love and understanding amongst each other. Here, the poet describes how she loves her husband as much as any other wife has ever loved her husband.
The poet is not claiming that her love is extraordinary and more than any other woman. She is rather saying that it is as much as every woman carries. And if a man were to be loved by his wife, any man it may be. Her husband, she promises, is surely one of those lucky men.
Lines Three and Four
If ever wife was happy in a man, Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
If a wife was ever happy with her husband, then the poet allows her husband to compare her to that woman who is happy with her husband, because she is truly with their marriage.
In the next lines, the poet asks her husband to compare her to any wife who is happy with her man because she is equally happy as her.
She is content with their marriage and her husband. She wants her husband to know that he makes her truly happy.
Lines Five and Six
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold, Or all the riches that the East doth hold
The poet says how she values her husband’s love which is more precious than any gold mines or other riches of the East. She wouldn’t exchange it or anything else.
The poet in these lines expresses how much she values her husband’s love that she compares it to gold mines and the riches of the East that are objectively considered to be valuable.
She wants her husband to know that she is grateful for his love towards her. And she wouldn’t share or exchange his love for any of the riches of the East because it is so precious and priceless to her.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
The poet describes her love as a thirst that any source of water, even a river cannot satisfy. It is so strong and insatiable.
The poet expresses how despite her happiness she is not fully satisfied with her love. She wants more of it as it is not enough for her. She is thirsty for love and even a river cannot quench her thirst for her husband’s love.
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Nothing can satisfy her as much as love from her husband can. She is hungry and thirsty for his love.
In the previous lines, the poet mentioned how her thirst cannot be satisfied by even a river. In these lines she states that nothing can truly satisfy her despite her happiness. Only the love that she shares with her husband can truly satisfy her.
This also states the comfort that she feels around her husband and no other thing can satisfy and bring her as much comfort as her husband can.
Lines Nine and Ten
Thy love is such I can no way repay; The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
The poet explains how she cannot repay his love as it is so pure that nothing can repay it. But she prays that the heavens may reward her husband for his love.
The poet is grateful for the love she receives from her husband. She is aware that it cannot be repaired because some things are so pure and valuable that nothing can ever repay it.
Therefore, the poet prays that the Heavens may reward her husband for his love towards her. As she thinks God’s reward would be as precious as his love for her. She is truly grateful that she got to experience this love from her husband.
Lines Eleven and Twelve
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever, That when we live no more, we may live ever.
The poet tells her husband that while we are alive, we will preserve our love for each other so that when we die, we will live forever.
In the last lines of the poem, the poet proposes to her husband that they preserve their love while they are alive. She is aware that they will be the same and last their love as long as they can, till one of them passes away.
And even after their death, their love will live forever. They will eternally love each other even after their death, even in the next life.