Letter to her Husband (c. 1640s)

In this deliberative poem, Bradstreet pleads for her husband to return from his travels abroad to her home and to her body. The poem is highly rhetorical, metaphysical, and sensual (again much like the early poetry of John Donne). The image of Simon Bradstreet as the “head” and Anne as the “heart” is standard, but Bradstreet extends her imagery into a “conceit” (an elaborate, extended metaphor equating unlikely objects together, a technique common to the seventeenth-century metaphysical poets), in this case linking her husband and his business trips to the Caribbean to the movements of the “sun” (her husband) around the “earth” (Bradstreet), a conceit that has clear sexual overtones. Once again, death in these early love poems is seen more in natural terms, as separation and cessation ("nature's sad decree"), not spiritualized as it will be in her later poems.

A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon

Public Business

My head, my heart, mine Eyes, my life, nay more,

My joy, my Magazine of earthly store,

If two be one, as surely thou and I,

How stayest thou there, whilst I at Ipswich lye?

So many steps, head from the heart to sever

If but a neck, soon should we be together:

I like the earth this season, mourn in black,

My Sun is gone so far in’s Zodiack,

Whom whilst I ’joy’d, nor storms, nor frosts I felt,

His warmth such frigid colds did cause to melt.

My chilled limbs now numbed lye forlorn;

Return, return sweet Sol from Capricorn;

In this dead time, alas, what can I more

Then view those fruits which through thy heat I bore?

Which sweet contentment yield me for a space,

True living Pictures of their Fathers face.

O strange effect! now thou art Southward gone,

I weary grow, the tedious day so long;

But when thou Northward to me shalt return,

I wish my Sun may never set, but burn

Within the Cancer of my glowing breast,

The welcome house of him my dearest guest.

Where ever, ever stay, and go not thence,

Till natures sad decree shall call thee hence;

Flesh of thy flesh, bone of thy bone,

I here, thou there, yet both but one.