Journal #18 Anne Bradstreet
November 19, 2009
"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 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. / Nor ought but love from thee, give recompense. / My love is such that rivers cannot quench, / 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 persevere / That when we live no more, we may live ever." (Bradstreet 206)
"A number of love poems written for her devoted husband, Simon Bradstreet—a busy colonial official often away from home—reveal a healthy sensuality and suggest that, although she was a Puritan, she was not puritanical." (Anne Bradstreet: An Overview. Thomas F O'Donnell)
In Bradstreet's "To My Dear and Loving Husband", she expresses her affection and love towards her husband. The theme of unity and eternal love could be observed in the poem, as well as the greatness of their relationship.
Writing in the age of Puritans, Bradstreet echoes one of the most famous Renaissance poets of all time in this particular poem, John Donne: "My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears...If our two loves be one, or thou and I / Love so alike that none do slacken, none can die". The language and tone is so alike that I would go as far as saying that this could definitely pass as a love poem written in the Renaissance by a man, were the genders be inversed. In "The Good Morrow" (the quoted excerpt above by John Donne), Donne incorporates the idea of mutual and everlasting love. O'Donnell mentioned that although Bradstreet was a Puritan, she was not puritanical, and surely this love poem to her husband is a clear example of such notion.
The equality and mutuality of the love expressed in the poem also could be interpreted as Bradstreet's perspective on femininity and gender. As opposed to the traditional, uptight, housekeeping wife, Bradstreet chose to profess her love in a direct manner, which was unorthodox for women at the time. I think, in a way, this is why Bradstreet was so popular within Puritans. True, they held to their beliefs with fervor and passion, but subconsciously desires and love, as described for instance in this poem, was repressed within their minds. Bradstreet echoes such ideas and thoughts, and as a result the Puritans at the time could, at a certain level, relate to what she was saying her poetry.