In the poem, "To My Dear and Loving Husband," by Anne Bradstreet which elements reflect Puritan beliefs and which do not?
Anne Bradstreet, a well-educated woman for her time, was the first poet in the American colonies to have a volume of poetry The Tenth Muse published. Her work portrays the struggles that a Puritan, and in particular a Puritan woman, faced in the New England colonial life. Most of her works centered on her love for her husband and children or her spirituality and struggle with the Puritan beliefs. As a woman writer, Bradstreet proved that a woman’s point of view gave details about puritanical life that her male counterpart did not express in his writing.
The Puritan had to follow a strong set of rules which governed every aspect of life. For a woman, even more was expected. Bradstreet’s path was not easy. However, she was a devoted wife, mother, and Christian, but also a determined poet. Bradstreet wanted more than just survival. She wanted to make an impact on her readers. Imagine her life. Adapting to a new environment in the strictest of religions, Bradsreet was the mother of eight children with all that entails; she prepared three meals a day for at least ten people; yet she found the time to write.
Bradstreet wrote several love poems to her husband. This poem, "To My Dear and Loving Husband," speaks to the love which two people share. She feels that her husband loves her and that she is most happy being his wife.
Comparing her husband to any other, his love is dearer to her than all the riches and gold in the world. She will never have enough of his love; furthermore, she will never be able to repay him for all that he has done for her. Bradstreet prays that God will repay her husband while they live. When they die, their love will endure.
Puritanism can be found in Bradstreet’s poem particularly since God’s command was that a woman should cleave to her husband. She further does not distinguish between romantic, physical, and spiritual love because to her there was no such separation in Bradstreet’s life.
On the other hand, she writes:
Then while we live, in love let's so persever
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
These lines express the hope that she and her husband will love each other, even after death. This was a definite conflict with the Puritan belief. To the Puritan, marriage dissolved at death.
Any allusion to the Psalms is found in the part of the poem in which she hopes that the Lord will repay her husband for all that he has done for her. In her beautiful words, she prays that the heavens or God will reward her husband many times over.