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Bradstreet Analyzed

Michael Patterson

English 102

M W F 2-2:50

Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), although born in England, is

considered to be the first American poet. She is also revered as the

first woman to be published. Married to Simon Bradstreet at age

sixteen, she ventured with her family to the Massachusetts colony.

Simon, the governor of Massachusetts colony, served a major role in

her life and her literary career. He was the subject in many of the

poems included in the two volumes Bradstreet had published. A

Puritan all her life, Bradstreet led a simple life guided by principles of

grace, plainness, and divine missions. In ?To My Dear and Living

Husband?, she shows her devotion to her husband in a smooth and

simple manner. We can see from the poem the strong feelings she

has for her husband. However, she contradicts some of her Puritan

beliefs at certain points in the poem.

To Anne Bradstreet, her husband is exactly what he should be;

the love of her life. Over and over again she expresses her devotion

to him with a repetition of images. One such image is presented in

lines 5-7. She states…

?I prize my love more than whole mines of gold

Or all the riches that the East doth hold.

My love is such that rivers cannot quench,…?

She states here that she would accept nothing in return for the

love that she shares with her husband and that no power, great or

small, could destroy it. Love is a tricky subject to many, and to some:

a fictional thing. On a personal note, I hope to one day find this love

that she speaks of. Bradstreet?s love for Simon is untouchable and


?To My Dear and Living Husband? is a beautiful and well-written

poem. In breaking apart the structure, we see that the poem contains

twelve lines, each containing ten syllables. Since each line is write in

the iambic fashion of alternating unstressed syllables and stressed

syllables, we can conclude that the poem is a sonnet. However, since

the rhyme scheme is AA BB CC DD EE FF, we see that it does not fit

in as one of the more famous Shakespearean or Petrarchian sonnets.

In the first line, we see the togetherness Anne and Simon share as

she says the two of them are one. Physically, this is a paradox. No

two people can be united as one. But, however, spiritually, the two

complete each others? life , so that, in marriage, they are one.

Throughout lines 1-3, Bradstreet gives their relationship as an

example to others with phrases like, ?If ever two were one?, ?If ever

one were loved by wife?, and ?if ever wife was happy in a man.? In

lines 1 and 3, we see two sound examples of alliteration. The ?w?

sound is repeated in the phrases ?two were one? and ?ever wife was?.

In line 4, the author seems boastful of her relationship. But I will

address that subject later. As I mentioned earlier, lines 5-7 present

images which show her love for Simon. Some may view these three

lines as a hyperbole, but love can completely change a person. And

as a Puritan, Bradstreet has no desire or need for ?mines of gold? or

eastern riches anyway. In lines 7-8, we see an insignificant fault in

the poem. The rhyming pattern throughout the entire poem is exact

rhyme. Lines 7-8 are a forced rhyme (quench & recompense. In the

9th line, she says that his love for her can in no way be repaid. This

can be seen as a symbol of how great her love is, or as an example of

synaesthesia; for there is no way to purchase or pay for true love.

Metonomy is seen in line 10 with the word ?heavens?. When the

author speaks of the heavens repaying him, heaven is symbolic of

God or life. Soundwise, line 11 is one of the most beautiful and

flowing lines of the poem. When the author says, ?while we live, in

love let?s so persever?, we see alliteration of the ?w? sounds,

alliteration and consonance of the ?l? sounds, and alliteration and

consonance of the ?s? sounds. This allows for the words to flow well

and just roll of your tongue. Lines 11 and 12 each contain a ceasura.

These pauses in the middle of the line make the statement seem to

add emotion to mere printed words. Finally, in line 12, we reach what

I consider to be the strongest statement in the poem: ?That when we

live no more, we may live ever.?. This line is a paradox. Although

Anne Bradstreet insists that their love is eternal and that after they

die, they shall continue loving one another, it is physically impossible

to be dead yet still living. The poem is written in a 17th century,

old-English style. We can base this on the use of words such as

?thee?, ?ye?, ?thy?, and ?doth?.

Although Anne Bradstreet was a Puritan for the entirety of her

life, ?To My Dear and Loving Husband? may or may not be a reflection

of Puritan life. The Puritans were Protestants who sought to be

simple, yet religiously and morally strict. One other Puritan belief is

that one should not become too emotionally attached to anything.

Throughout the poem, we see that Bradstreet is attached to Simon to

the point that she?d love him after their death. Also, as I mentioned

earlier, in line 4 she seems boastful of their love for each other. She

calls out to other women in a bragging manner, ?Compare with me…if

you can?. However, she redeems herself in the last three lines. Here

she prays to the heavens and speaks of the afterlife. It is a difficult to

decide whether this poem is a reflection of Puritan life. That is left

open to opinion.

In conclusion, we can plainly see the great love Anne Bradstreet

had for her husband Simon. She expresses this through imagery,

symbolism, and many other poetic devices. A devout Puritan, it is left

to opinion whether or not she reflected the Puritan lifestyle, but one

thing is for sure. Anne Bradstreet had a love for her husband that

could not be matched by anything on this world.

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