What is the mood in "To My Dear and Loving Husband" by Anne Bradstreet?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The form of this poem is twenty-four lines written as rhyming couplets following the rhythm of iambic pentameter.  This rhythm was used to give the impression of the beating heart of the child.


The mood of the poem is spirited and fun. Through the use of literary devices, the author sets the atmosphere with her humility about her work.  In addition, Bradstreet portrays the clash of emotions that a writer has for her work.

Taking responsibility for the work but not for the issuance of it, she implies that her work is unfit for publication; yet, she has tended to the verse to improve its appearance.  The poet’s intent was to give the impression of her poetry as the foolish work of a puritan woman with no serious intentions. Thus, she would be able to pacify the world in which she lived.

The poem is an extended metaphor using the comparison between an unwanted child that has been taken from its parents and her poetry.  To add to the metaphor, Bradstreet personifies aspects of the book using the qualities of a child to facilitate the book/child comparison.


1st couplet

The poet establishes her metaphor. “Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain…” With this beginning, Bradstreet not only begins her metaphor but also implies that she is just a humble woman with little claim to intelligence.  The poem stayed with her after it was born. The poet is the mother; the poem is her child.

2nd couplet

Her friends who were well-intentioned took her poems without her permission and sent them to England to be evaluated and published. She purports her lack of knowledge of the publication. 


These lines imply that Bradstreet was ashamed of the appearance of the work.  She needed to edit it more closely.  Everyone will be able to review her mistakes.

4th / 5th couplets

When the book or her “rambling brat” was returned to her, she uses the ploy that the work was unworthy. Since the baby belonged to her, she loved it anyway. In time, she would be able to fix the imperfections.


“I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,

And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.

As the poet begins to correct her mistakes, she discovers even more. It is as though she fixes one thing but then creates another mistake.


Her next attempt to fix her poetry or baby comes from the rhythm and meter.  She stretches the joints to make even feet. Despite her efforts,  the meter still was not quite right.  


She attempts to dress up or embellish the poetry.  The poet could find nothing but her homemade cloth. Her words were as good as she could write. Adding things does not necessarily make it better

9th /10th

Bradstreet does not want her Puritanical society to misunderstand her work.  Some will misconstrue her writing.  She worries about what those who understand poetry will think about her work.  It is obvious that she does love her child.

11th /12th  

The poet gives voice to her poem by telling the child to say that it has no father.  She is willing to take responsibility for the poetry as the mother. Now, she takes the credit for sending her work out into the public to be read and held by its readers.

Bradstreet found her place in the society in which she lived.  She was well-versed and clever in her writing.  She forged the way for women writers to come.


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