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"To My Dear and Loving Husband"

by Anne Bradstreet

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare me with ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor aught but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.

Perspective, Tone, and Effect in Anne Bradstreet's Poem by Ngoc Nguyen

One finds Anne Bradstreet’s poem interesting because of its subject, perspective, and tone. The subject is doubtless about love; the perspective is that of a wife to a husband; and the tone is one of expressed love and devoted affection.

Anne Bradstreet’s love for her husband is admirable, heartwarming, and inspiring. The poem itself inspires one to be a similar kind of husband to one's wife. But, in a more fundamental way, the poem makes one want to be a similar kind of man to any woman in his life with whom he has a relationship, especially relationships of the romantic or sexual kind.

Because some of us are un-married, it is always interesting to see the perspective of a wife to a husband, especially one so inspiring, exalting, and just plain encouraging. One finds Anne Bradstreet’s words to her husband encouraging because we live in a time and culture where more marriages fail than survive—according to current statistics—and where marriages themselves are seen by so many men and women as merely a legal contract that can be easily dissolved through divorce at the slightest sign of difficulty or trouble. Granted, Bradstreet’s poem was written in 1678—in a time bygone and very much different from ours—but her uxorial feelings and sentiments are heartening (to us) nevertheless. Perhaps, if more men today were more like Anne Bradstreet’s husband, one would find more similar evocations of love and devotion from one's women.

The poem’s tone successfully conveys Anne Bradstreet’s love and devotion to her husband. Even the poem’s title itself conveys those emotions from the start—the words “dear” and “loving” are used to describe the husband, the recipient of Bradstreet’s poem. Throughout Bradstreet’s poem she uses beautiful, poetic language to convey and express her love and devotion to the recipient, as in the lines, “I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,/ Or all the riches that the East doth hold./ My love is such that rivers cannot quench,/ Nor aught but love from thee give recompense./ Thy love is such I can no way repay;/ The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.” No doubt, whatever love the recipient may have had for Bradstreet before reading this poem, his love for her would be stronger and greater after reading it!

The effect that Anne Bradstreet’s poem has on one is one of encouragement, warmth, and inspiration. Whether Bradstreet intended this effect in other men who might read her poem is unknown. Granted, her poem is directed at her husband. But one can with a fair amount of certainty say that he would feel what the reader is feeling now from reading and contemplating this poem if he (or she?) were Anne Bradstreet’s husband. In a word, one would love her more for it.

"To have the soul of a poet is to feel with the mind, and to think with the heart."

~Ngoc Nguyen~

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