Anne Bradstreet, To My Dear and Loving Husband, A Discussion

"To My Dear and Loving Husband" was written by America's first female poet, the Puritan, Anne Bradstreet. In fact, Anne Bradstreet is one of only a handful of female American poets during the first 200 years of America's history. After Bradstreet, one can list only Phillis Wheatley, the 18th century black female poet, Emma Lazarus, the 19th century poet whose famous words appear on the Statue of Liberty, and the 19th century Emily Dickinson, America's most famous female poet.

"To My Dear and Loving Husband" has several standard poetic features. One is the two line rhyme scheme. Another is the anaphora, the repetition of a phrase, in the first three lines. And a third is the popular iambic pentameter.

Iambic pentameter is characterized by an unrhymed line with five feet or accents. Each foot contains an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable, as in "da Dah, da Dah, da Dah, da Dah, da Dah."

The subject of Anne Bradstreet's love poem is her professed love for her husband. She praises him and asks the heavens to reward him for his love. The poem is a touching display of love and affection and extraordinarily uncommon for the Puritan era of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in which Anne Bradstreet lived.

Puritan women were expected to be reserved, domestic, and subservient to their husbands. They were not expected or allowed to exhibit their wit, charm, intelligence, or passion. John Winthrop, the Massachusetts governor, once remarked that women who exercised wit or intelligence were apt to go insane.

Anne Bradstreet was born Anne Dudley in 1612 in England. She married Simon Bradstreet when she was 16 and they both sailed with her family to America in 1630. The difficult, cold voyage to America took 3 months to complete. John Winthrop was also a passenger on the trip. The voyage landed in Boston and the passengers joined the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The men in Anne Bradstreet's family were managers and politicians. Both her father and her husband became Massachusetts governors. Her husband, Simon, often traveled for weeks throughout the colony as its administrator.

Anne Bradstreet's poem, "To My Dear and Loving Husband," was a response to her husband's absence.

Very little is known about Anne Bradstreet's life in Massachusetts. There are not portraits of her and she does not even have a grave marker. She and her family moved several times, each time further away from Boston into the frontier. Anne and Simon had 8 children during a 10 year period, and all the children survived healthy and safe, a remarkable accomplishment considering the health and safety hazards of the period.

Anne Bradstreet was highly intelligent and largely self-educated. She took herself seriously as an intellectual and a poet, reading widely in history, science, art, and literature. However, as a good Puritan woman, Bradstreet did not make her accomplishments public.

Bradstreet wrote poetry for herself, family, and friends, never meaning to publish them. Consider that her friend, Anne Hutchinson was intellectual, educated and led women's prayer meetings where alternative religious beliefs were discussed. She was labeled a heretic and banished from the colony. Hutchinson eventually died in an Indian attack. Is it any wonder that Anne Bradstreet was hesitant to publish her poetry and call attention to herself?

Anne Bradstreet's early poems were secretly taken by her brother-in-law to England and published in a small volume when she was 38. The volume sold well in England, but the poems were not nearly as accomplished as her later works.

Bradstreet's later works were not published during her lifetime. Her poems about her love for her husband were private and personal, meant to be shared with her family and friends group only.

Though her health was frequently a concern, especially during childbirth, Anne Bradstreet lived until 60 years of age.

Enjoy "To My Dear and Loving Husband," a remarkable accomplishment.

To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me 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 ought but love from thee, give recompence.
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.

*****************************

Garry Gamber is a public school teacher and entrepreneur. He writes articles about real estate, health and nutrition, and internet dating services. He is the owner of http://www.Anchorage-Homes.com and http://www.TheDatingAdvisor.com.

In The News:


New York Times

David Orr's 10 Favorite Poetry Books of 2014
New York Times
No matter how much one tries, as The Times does, to include poets among the various biographers, essayists, novelists and so forth, it's hard not to feel that poetry is fundamentally different from prose of any stripe. (Prose, said Coleridge, is “words ...


Palo Alto Online

Pure poetry: Resident Barbara Allen creates Palo Alto's first 'poetry post'
Palo Alto Online
Palo Alto native Barbara Allen has loved poetry since childhood. Raised by an aunt who lived on Coleridge Avenue, she played along streets named for some of the world's most celebrated poets: Tennyson, Melville, Coleridge and Emerson. As a teen, Allen ...

and more »

Palestinian poetry reflects a painful longing for home
National Catholic Reporter (blog)
My feet are torn / And homelessness has worn me out / Park benches have left their marks / on my ribs. / Policemen followed me / with their suspicious looks. / I dragged myself from place to place, / destitute except for / day-long memories of a home


Chicago Tribune

Harper English professor places second at statewide poetry competition
Chicago Tribune
Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White awarded Walsh of Roselle and poets from Harrisburg and Chicago as this year's winners of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award. "Receiving this honor is sustaining," said Walsh, who has taught English at ...

and more »

New poetry by area poets to be featured on buses
The State
New works of poetry and accompanying photography, displayed on placards normally used for advertising, are once again being placed inside Luzerne County Transportation Authority buses for the 2014-2015 edition of the Poetry in Transit initiative.


Charlotte Observer

McCrory names New N.C. poet laureate
Charlotte Observer
Not about Macon herself, who is in her mid-60s, works in state government and is the author of two self-published books of poetry. Rather the controversy centered on McCrory's bypassing the protocol of a call for nominations by the state Arts Council.
McCrory names new poet laureateWRAL.com
Gov. McCrory gets it right the second time around, names new N.C. Poet ...The Independent Weekly
Benson man becomes new state poet laureateNews & Observer
seattlepi.com
all 61 news articles »

9news.com.au

Martin Place gunman Man Monis published book of poetry
9news.com.au
Man Haron Monis published a series of poems detailing his desire to move to a better place with a "just government" and "good people" almost 10 years before he took 17 people hostage, killing two, at a café in Sydney's CBD. In his 1995 book of Farsi ...
Martin Place gunman Monis was a poetSydney Morning Herald

all 2 news articles »

McDowell News

Fourth-graders share their poetry during event
McDowell News
The snapping of fingers signaled the end of one young poet's reading during a special event held at Old Fort Elementary. Students in Misty Trembath's class recently had their classroom transformed into The Mad Bean Café, a place where they could sip on ...

and more »

Meadows Museum to host poetry reading
Shreveport Times
The Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College and the Friends of the Meadows Museum will host a poetry reading and reception in conjunction with the exhibition “Poet of the Ordinary: Photographs by Keith Carter'' on Jan. 15 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The ...


American Life in Poetry: No. 508
The Recorder
It seems we're born with a need for stories, for hearing them and telling them. Here's an account of just one story, made remarkable in part by the teller's aversion to telling it. Poet Mary Avidano lives in Nebraska. City Lights. My father, rather a ...

and more »
Google News

Since Youve Been Gone...

My life has changedin so so many waysIt seems to... Read More

Opposites Do Attract Quite Well

When I am climbing up, you are stepping down. When... Read More

Two Poems and a Short Story

1)dying in the bar [sluggishly]yet, I would crawl too upto... Read More

Life is a Fantasy

LIFE IS A FANTASY!A pink-eyed rabbit, fuzzy whiteHops in bedrooms... Read More

Mechanical Poetry - Part Three

Have you ever read the lyrics of a Simon and... Read More

A Hundred and Fifty Dead [Korean War--l952]

There I sat, ninety-five degree weatherOutside; the bookstore caf, was... Read More

A Different Place...

I wish we had met 20 years ago... A different... Read More

The King and Delka & Moiromma: the Cold Planet [Parts 25 and 26]

#25The King and Delka [Split Mawkishness-on Moiromma /Part V]Sickly SentimentalityI... Read More

The Gaul of La Laguna de Paca

Part OneI tell you a legend of long ago Of... Read More

Preserving Dignity

No one should have to beg or crawl before humanity.... Read More

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: A Discussion of How Do I Love Thee?

"How Do I Love Thee?" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning was... Read More

The Merchant of Copan [In English and Spanish]

English VersionThe Merchant of Copan [480 AD]Advance: The ballgame at... Read More

Memoirs of a Wastelands Rim [a Poem: now in Spanish and English]

Memoirs of a Wasteland's RimIt still was light when she... Read More

Let Your Feelings Be Your Guide

The light of all eternity shines with me now /... Read More

Five Poems

Poems have different cores, or so I believe, and can... Read More

I Hate The Wait (Weight)

I get up in the morningAnd want to stay in... Read More

The Butcher of Lima and Footprints to Mantaro Valley (Two Poems)

Footprints to Mantaro Valley (Peru; in English and Spanish)In what... Read More

Caught in the Arms of ED

YOU MIGHT THINK I AM STRONGI THINK YOU GOT IT... Read More

Death & the Supernatural: Poetry/Five Poems

Supernatural PoetryHere are five poems,-what I call-death and supernatural poems.... Read More

A Happiness Poem

If a happiness poem could bring forth a smile, Then... Read More

Infected Ideologies [a Poetic Portrait]

the disease of extremism is infectious-; whoever cannot think of... Read More

Mechanical Poetry; Part Two

What do you do when you want to write poetry?... Read More

The Power of Eating Disorders

I want to get closeI am afraid.Afraid of what... Read More

Because of You

You are to me my lifeline my security. That scares... Read More

Two Poems Written During Recovery

Since my wife and I are moving, or preparing to... Read More