To My Dear and Loving Husband

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.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought 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.

Source: The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet (1981)

Writing Ideas

1. Rewrite Bradstreet’s poem using contemporary language and metaphors. What might the modern equivalent of “mines of gold” be? How might you profess your love in an equally devoted, but more modern context?

2. At the beginning of the poem, Bradstreet uses anaphora, or the repetition of sentence structure, to reinforce her feelings. “If ever two were one, then surely we,” she writes. “If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.” Using Bradstreet’s conditional syntax as a model, replace her examples with ones relevant to your own experience.

Discussion Questions

1. Though a pious Puritan, Anne Bradstreet’s poem to her “Dear and Loving Husband” is a passionate plea for true and everlasting romantic love. How might the ideas she expresses here be considered contrary to the prevailing sentiments of her time and place?

2. In structuring her argument, Bradstreet uses the conditional (if, then). Does this stance put her on the offensive or defensive? Is her argument convincing? How does the use of rhyming couplets bolster her assertions?

3. Bradstreet equates her love to “riches,” which she prizes “more than whole mines of gold”, though the Puritans considered themselves above such capitalistic goals. Why, then, would Bradstreet make such a comparison? What other metaphors does she use in her poem? What do words like “recompense,” “repay” and “reward” have to do with her argument?

Teaching Tips

1. Have students bring in the lyrics to a favorite love song. In small groups, have them develop a list of qualities that a love song typically has (common images, purposes, ideas, speakers, audiences, etc.). In a large group, ask students to consider the reasons why love songs are written.

2. After listening to the podcast of the poem and marking their text as they listen, have students work in small groups to identify the parts of this text. Students may identify differences between the opening quatrain, the series of couplets that fortify the argument, and the powerful final couplet. Ask small groups to share how they would characterize the parts of the poem in terms of form, purpose, meaning, ideas, images, etc.

3. In small groups, have students design the visual script of a video to accompany this poem. What images best capture the persona of the speaker, her relationship to her husband, and “ye women?” Some students may actually produce a video with an audio recording and accompanying images.

More Poems by Anne Bradstreet