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What are the poetic elements in Anne Bradstreet's "To My Dear and Loving Husband"? List...

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zoel222 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 23, 2009 at 6:40 AM via web

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What are the poetic elements in Anne Bradstreet's "To My Dear and Loving Husband"? List three and give an example of each

If ever two were one, then surely we. 
If ever man were lov'd 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 cAnneot quench, 
Nor ought but love from thee give recompetence. 
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.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 23, 2009 at 7:04 AM (Answer #1)

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Bradstreet's poem features numerous poetic elements. First, it is structured in rhyming couplets, pairs of lines that rhyme. The twelve lines of the poem consist of six couplets. Here is an example of the first couplet:

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.

The following two lines form a second couplet, and this pattern is repeated throughout the poem.

The poem also employs both perfect rhyme (exact rhyme) and off rhyme, also known as slant rhyme. In the lines above, we/thee rhyme perfectly to the ear. In another couplet, however the rhyme is a slant rhyme:

My love is such that rivers cannot quench,

Nor ought but love from thee, give recompense.

In this couplet, "quench" and "recompense" almost rhyme, but they do not rhyme perfectly to the ear. It should be noted, also, that the rhymes in the poem are end rhymes--the rhyming words appear at the ends of the lines.

Another interesting poetic element is the employment of hyperbole. In saying that her love is so great that rivers themselves cannot "quench" it, Bradstreet is emphasizing the depth and degree of her love through overstatement. Connotative meaning is also found in this hyperbole. Water is an element that quenches thirst and puts out fire; thus, the hyperbole suggests that Bradstreet's love is very passionate.

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kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted October 23, 2009 at 7:06 AM (Answer #2)

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There are many poetic elements in Bradstreet's "To My Dear and Loving Husand" for example, the first three lines use repetition and parallel structures to achieve the effect of internal rhyme. In addition, the fourth line sums up the first three by asking all women who read the poem: is your marriage as happy as mine ?

In lines 5 through 8 she speaks of her love using alliteration of the same consonant sounds, such as, prize, mines, gold and hold, riches and rivers.

In the lines 8 through 11 she speaks of her husband's love through alliteration, for example, repay and pray, persevere and ever (internal rhyme).

The parallel construction between the phrases "while we live in love" and "when we live no more" is so effective in creating a bridge between life and death, as if the poet is saying that love exists in life and in death.

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