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Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)

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 recompetence.
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.

"To My Dear and Loving Husband" by Anne Bradstreet is a poem dedicated to her husband Simon, as the title denotes. The idea of the piece is fairly straightforward. The author uses comparisons to physical things to describe her passion, and ends the short poem with a charge to her husband to pray that God will bless him for his amazing love, as she cannot ever repay it. She urges her husband to continue to live in love with her, so that their love can live on, even when they themselves are no more; she wishes to be immortalized through love.

Mechanically, this piece is relatively unremarkable. The rhyme scheme appears to be standard rhyming couplets, the aabbcc scheme. There is a slight assonance of the long "A" vowel sound: "Thy love is such I can no way repay/ The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray," (lines 9-10). However, there is the alliteration of line 11's "While we live," and line 12's "When we live," that ends the piece on an audibly pleasing note.

Bradstreet uses many figurative devices in order to convey her message. She uses the repetition of the word "ever" throughout the poem to say that never has there been love to compare to the magnitude of that between herself and her spouse. Interestingly, Anne Bradstreet's three comparisons all have the tangible aspects capitalized: the Mines in line 5, the East in line 6, and the Rivers in line 7. Lines 6-7, "I prize thy love more than Mines of gold/Or all the riches that the East doth hold," is a reference to the Orient and the Far East; during the time when Anne Bradstreet lived, these 'exotic' places were though to be wonderful, filled with riches, and mysterious. The author believes that her relationship with her husband Simon is likewise priceless, and even "All the riches" in the East cannot equal it. "My love is such that Rivers cannot quench," (line 7) in an allusion to Song of Solomon Chapter 8 in the Bible, which tells that "many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it." It is also through this Biblical reference that the poem relates to love, and surreptitiously, death. The tie-in with love is readily apparent, but death's correlation is harder to ascertain. With Biblical poetry, such as King Solomon's "Song of Solomon" also known as "Song of Songs," "waters" or "rivers" generally were synonymous with 'death.'

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