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The poem “To My Dear and Loving Husband” was written by an American poet Anne Bradstreet in 1633. It is a love poem with powerful emotional undertones, focused on how love can make two people become one physically and spiritually. The combination of vivid imagery and figures of speech with a soft and plain voice allowed me to clearly perceive the author’s feelings and decide that they are honest and heartfelt.
Key Figure of Speech in “My Dear and Loving Husband”
Overall, the poem is relatively short and does not have much space for complex expressions. The critical figure of speech used in there is the line “her love is such that rivers cannot quench” (Bradstreet 189). This figure of speech alludes to her sexual desire, as the figure of speech “rivers cannot quench” is typically associated with thirst (Bradstreet 189). The allusions can, in part, be explained by Bradstreet’s Puritan background, which forbids expressing one’s desires more directly. As a result, the reader perceives the woman’s love as pure and platonic, focused more on the spiritual side of the matter.
The Voice of the Speaker in “My Dear and Loving Husband”
Correspondingly, Anne Bradstreet’s writing expresses sincerity by avoiding complex word usage and elaborate sentence construction. The author’s way of saying herself is similar in both voice and structure to epithalamium, which is a poem celebrating the act of marriage. Nevertheless, the couple in this verse has already been married for some time. The writer’s gentle and honest way of talking about her love fills the reader with quiet happiness, as Bradstreet celebrates her marriage even years after the consummation, showing her joy and love for her husband as if they were newlyweds.
Imagery in “My Dear and Loving Husband”
With this in mind, the author uses comparisons with nature as well as spiritual connotations to create the physical image of the love she feels for her husband. For example, the idea of a river symbolizes the width, strength, and volume of the woman’s love (Bradstreet 189). The imagery of water is typical in love poems, either in the form of rivers, lakes, or oceans. They represent a powerful force of nature that also gives life, as, without water, no life may exist on the planet. Thus, the imagery, as perceived by the reader, also alludes to the purpose behind earthly love between a man and a woman, which is to give life.
Overall, as I read the poem, I was filled with quiet happiness for Anne Bradstreet, who seemed honestly content with her marriage. The joy and a sense of belonging emanated from the short verse, indicating that one does not need many words to describe true love. It is a kind of happiness many couples do not get to experience due to a lack of interconnection between the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual. I did not feel that figures of speech, imagery, or the author’s voice stood out. Instead, they intermingled with one another, creating a wholesome and profoundly emotional experience.
Bradstreet, Anne. “My Dear and Loving Husband.” Puritans in the New World: A Critical Anthology, edited by David D. Hall, Princeton University Press, 2004, p. 188.