A Touching Display of Everlasting Love
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“To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet is an old American poem that expresses the true essence of a woman’s love for her husband. The first American woman to ever write poetry, Mrs Bradstreet was a Puritan who published many works about religion, family and her home in the 17th century. This poem is dedicated to her husband, whom she loved more than life itself. The poem expresses not only love, but also devotion in the very first line: “If ever two were one, then surely we”. This line is a written tribute to the spiritual unity between the wife and her husband. Back then, Puritan wives were meant to serve their husbands and take care of the family and household. The woman had to be obedient in front of her man, and it was her duty to respect him, and praise him. It may seem that with this poem Mrs Bradstreet tried tobaldly do her duty and pay a tribute to her husband. However, the meaning is deeper than that. The seventh line, “My love is such that Rivers cannot quench”, left the impression that her words are not just a result of the rules of Puritan society, but a true statement of real, unspoiled, and pure love. The entire poem, in fact, communicates more than words can through the sentence structure and the diction. The truth is that Mrs Bradstreet’s love for her husband is more prized than mines of gold, or any other worthy possessions. She is extremely grateful that her husband loves her too and considers their reciprocity as “heavens reward”. At the end of the poem, Mrs Bradstreet promises her husband to love him until the day they die. She expresses the belief that they will still love each other for eternity, beyond death.
The first thing that caught my attention was the tone of adoration used by Mrs Bradstreet in this poem. Not only does she love her husband, but she adores him. The ninth line clearly suggests that his love for her is a miraculous gift from God and that she humbly accepts it despite being aware that such a noble feeling cannot be repaid by any earthly belongings. This line also gives me the impression that she believes that no matter how much love she has for her husband, it is still not enough to be equated to the wonder of being loved by him. For this reason, this poem is neither a love letter, nor a hymn to the head of the family despite the dictated Puritan lifestyle of the 17th century. This poem is a touching display of everlasting love where emotions vibrate within every word and every rhyme.
Such a powerful love as the one Mrs Bradstreet has for her husband may seem to be mythical nowadays. One may shallowly interpret it as adulation to man, the husband, imposed by society of that time. But for me, it only expresses love in its purest form.
It seems that nowadays love is never unconditional. There is an impression that everyone is looking for perfection in others. Some people have a mental list of qualities the perfect man or woman must meet. However, they all fail to see the bigger picture. The number of qualities or flaws is unimportant. So is someone’s fortune, bank account or the car the “perfect” man or woman owns.
This short and easy poem only speaks about how powerful a woman’s love for her husband is. It does not list his qualities; it says nothing of his nobility or fortune. In fact, it says that love is more powerful than “all the riches that the East doth hold”. Mrs Bradstreet’s poem proves that eternal love, the kind that goes beyond death, comes from within the spirit. This poem touched me through vivid emotions that stem from the core of the soul. It also showed me that true love is a thing of the spirit and not the body. Mrs Bradstreet’ ode to her husband has taught me about the effect true love has on the human spirit.