Anne Bradstreet- The poetess was born on March 20, 1612, and being a Puritan, she wrote poems in addition to her household duties. She was a devoted wife and a mother of eight. In many of her personal poems, she has confessed that her life would have been incomplete without her family around. Besides the major gender biased-roles of the Puritan era, she was still an educated, well-bred woman and solely wrote about her life as a wife and mother. Anne was criticised for being a poetess as writing and publishing was then regarded as the Man’s area and women weren’t allowed to behold such jobs. She died in 1672 shortly after she was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
Setting of To My Dear and Loving Husband-
Born in the peak of Puritan Era, she was a woman who abides by the Puritan ideology, which duly states women to be inferior to men. The Aristotelian view restricts women to the domestic boundaries where they were only privileged to know best the household means through which they can take care of their families. When educated women were still rare, Anne being a high-born was well read and shaped into a devoted wife of Puritan acceptance. Reading made her a radical woman and she found solace in writing poems. The poetess wrote several poems expressing her love for her husband in straightforward terms denoting intellectual writing and freshness in her poems.
Poetic devices in To My Dear and Loving Husband-
Line 6: The East is personified as a person who is erotic, raw and wealthy who can hold the riches together.
Line 9: The poetess regards love as a mutual transaction between wife and husband, claiming that something has to be given in return to what is received.
Line 3 & 4: The repetition of the words “if ever” states that there is no surprise to the declaration of their love. The repetition of these clauses in successive lines produces a genuine yet impressive impact on these lines.
The style of the poem is the most popular one of the 16th century- the Shakespearean Sonnet consisting of 14 lines which was a common practice to write love poems. These love poems were written by lovers usually to woo their beloved or their unattainable desires to reach out to them. Here, in this form a wife being the speaker professes her love to her husband. The poem follows the rhyming scheme of AABBCCDD and EEFF, producing couplets.
Summary of To My Dear and Loving Husband-
The poem has an impressive romantic conduct while the poetess is emphasising her love for his husband in a surreal manner. She regards her husband and herself as one and the same person exhibiting the idea of extreme romance and endurance for each other. She exaggerates of having the most dreamt-of relationship she wishes to behold with someone. She seems to worship the love she has for her husband by improvising that no woman has ever loved her man as she. The declaration comes more as a challenge to the other women that they cannot be as happy with their men as she is with hers. The poetess in the poem seems to profess her blind faith in her husband that not even the most valuable things as the “whole mines of gold” can come near the exchange of her love bound relationship with him. Nor does the riches of the East hold the capacity to reduce her love for him. The poetess compares every beautiful accept of her life to be reasoned around her husband. Further, she expresses that her thirst cannot be put out by rivers as it is only her husband who can satisfy her mentally and sexually. The poetess wants to establish her love on marital grounds where marriage is regarded as the most important relationship between a man and woman. She claims that her husband’s love compensates for any sufferings caused to her and she feels empowered by his love. She gives the poem a spiritual turn when she claims that she cannot “repay” her husband’s love in earthly valuables so she pleads to heaven to bless his husband and their ever-lasting relationship. The poetess wishes to carry on with her life in praises of their love so that they will be announced as the best couple ever lived after their demise. She wants to restore her marriage as an example of a memorable union.
Critical Analysis of To My Dear and Loving Husband-
The poem is puritan in nature, meaning abiding by the rules held by the Puritans. The idea in this poem elucidates the ideology of a successful marriage in biblical terms which was one of the sole achievement of the 16th century. Divorce and adultery were disregarded, considered unhealthy to the existing society and sexual drifts were discussed within closed doors. The poetess isn’t just confessing her love towards her husband but is also announcing her successful and excellent marriage to the readers. She feels pleased and blessed to have a husband like him.
Tone of To My Dear and Loving Husband-
Though being a short poem yet it has several shifts in its tone. Initially, the poetess regards herself and her husband to be one and the same person, then falling into a distinguished mode of comparison showcasing pride. She continues to provide extreme examples to describe the depth of romance they share also covering the arena of satisfaction in sexual pleasure given by her husband. She later on takes a turn to a spiritual mood, when she proclaims that she cannot repay the love she has gained from his husband and only heaven can do justice to them. She goes on saying that her life may end but the celebration of their marriage will continue because death also cannot set them apart.
Conclusion- The mutual love and respect held by the wives and husbands show an agreement to the biblical terms of marriage. The Puritan beliefs also inspired the believers to behold a virtuous life so that they can make their afterlives better. Thus, the poetess wishes to redeem herself by her good deeds in marriage.