List three poetic elements in Anne Bradstreet's "To my Dear and Loving Husband" and a specific example of each.

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Stephen Holliday | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Bradstreet begins "To My Dear and Loving Husband," which in another format, is essentially a love letter to her husband with a rhetorical or literary device:

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. . . .

In rhetorical terms, this is called anaphora, that is, the repetition of initial words or phrases, a very common technique in poetry.  In Bradstreet's poem, the "If-then" construction also sets up part of a syllogism in logic: "if this is true, then this is true."

The fourth through sixth lines are based on a perfectly apt metaphor as Bradstreet writes "Compare with me, ye women . . . I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold/ Or all the riches that the East doth hold."  A fairly conventional metaphor, Bradstreet ranks her husband's love higher than gold and uncountable riches.

In a second use of appropriate metaphor, in line seven, Bradstreet argues that her love "is such that rivers cannot quench," again reinforcing the idea of love that is stronger than natural elements and worth more than the most valuable element on earth.

In the next two lines, Bradstreet uses another metaphor, this time from the world of commerce:

Nor ought but love from thee, give recompense.

Thy love is such I can in no way repay. . .

To this point, Bradstreet has used a conventional, but useful, rhetorical technique to open her poem effectively with repetition that carries the poem forward, and she has used two metaphors to compare her desire for her husband's love as greater than the desire for immense wealth (gold) and used an additional metaphor that compares the exchange of love to a commercial exchange.

Bradstreet concludes the poem with the same use of anaphora--"then while we live"--that perfectly balances this short poem and, more important, urges her husband to love so powerfully and consistently that they their love will continue after they are gone.

The last two lines reinforce the depth of Bradstreet's love because they imply that a powerful husband-wife love will transcend death, and as such, constitute a slightly unconventional view from a Puritan woman of the strength of personal love.



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