To My Dear and Loving HusbandThis is a featured page

Hannah Meyer
June 19, 2008
ENH 241
Shelley Rodrigo
Puritan Life
Puritan literature was the epitome of colonial life in America. The journey from England to the United States was less about conquest and more about finding a place to practice religion freely. This was reflected in the literature, as the writing of the day often revolved around themes such as God, piety, sin, and redemption. Anne Bradstreet was the first published American poet (Martin) and while her first body of work was not particularly distinguished, it gave a clear view into Puritan life and beliefs. Her poem To My Dear and Loving Husband was not a literary gem but was important in that it was the beginnings of American poetry.
Bradstreet’s poetry in her first book, The Tenth Muse, Late Sprung Up in America, was about day to day to life. It was not particularly philosophical in nature; however, it was of particular importance because her male colleagues acknowledged that she was able to write in an articulate manner. Her poems almost always mention religion in some form or other. In To My Dear and Loving Husband, she becomes the epitome of the Puritan wife. She almost becomes a character in her own poem. She is consistent in using the colloquial terms and her rhythm flows very well. Rhythm can be defined as “the patterned recurrence…of specific language features, usually features of sound” (“rhythm”). Her first two lines are a prime example of this: “If ever two were one, then surely we. If ever man were lov’d by wife, then thee” (Bradstreet). If one reads the two sentences aloud, the emphasis falls in the same pattern in both lines, in addition to the rhyming and the repetition of “If ever.” However, it is the simple rhyme scheme of the poem that reveals that this is the beginning of her writing career.
A look at the time period and the ongoing events of the time also help to take a deeper look at Bradstreet’s poem. Her poetry was written at the very beginning of the colonization of the American Frontier (“colonialism, West”), at a time when settlers were just getting their feel for the land. Puritan beliefs ran the land and the law, and led to humble and pious writing (Campbell.) This can be seen in lines such as, “That when we live no more, we may live ever” (Bradstreet). There is direct mention of religion when she says “The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray” (Bradstreet). This all goes to show that Bradstreet was clearly a writer of the American Frontier.
The content of her writing, especially in this poem, is very much about every day life. She focuses on religion, which was the reason why the colonists left England in the first place. Even in the title of her book, The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America, it can be seen that Bradstreet was a writer of the frontier and found herself to be inspired by her new life. For example, Bradstreet’s husband was often away from home for extended periods of time because of his job as Magistrate of the colony (Martin). This explains the numerous love poems to her husband throughout her career as a poet. This also goes to show that Frontier life influenced her poetry very much, an influence that stayed constant throughout her entire career (Martin).
Bradstreet is easily dismissed in her early poetry as inconsequential. However, upon reading her further works and taking a deeper look at poems such as To My Dear and Loving Husband, one can easily see a writer honing her craft (Martin). Even without said knowledge, Bradstreet was already a milestone in that she was the first published female writer. As time went on, her simple rhythms and content grew into the works of an experienced writer. It is also invaluable for its view into Puritan life and how many Puritan women lived and thought from day to day.
Works Cited
Bradstreet, Anne. “To My Dear and Loving Husband.” 19 June 2008 <
http://www.humanitiesweb.org/human.php?s=l&p=c&a=p&ID=844&c=485>.
Campbell, Donna. “Puritanism in New England.” Literary Movements 2007. 18 June 2008. <http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/purdef.htm>.
“colonialism, Western." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 19June2008 <http://search.eb.com/eb/article-25911>.
Martin, Wendy. “Anne Bradstreet.” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 24: American Colonial Writers, 1606-1734. Ed. Emory Elliott. The Gale Group. Bruccoli Clark Laymon: 1984.
"rhythm." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 19June2008 <http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9063491>.


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