To my Dear and Loving Husband (c.1640s)

This is a deliberative poem, seeking to elicit a future action. In this instance, Bradstreet pleads for her husband to love her forever. Many rhetorical devices are present here: note the use of anaphora in the opening stanza (repeating the beginning phrase “If ever ...”); hyperbole in lines 5-8; and paradox in the closing line. There is an element here of metaphysical wit (cp. the poems of John Donne) as well as typical Renaissance humanism, where the focus is on human love (not spiritual), a love that somehow will persist for ever (cp. Shakespeare and the Renaissance idea of “immortality” through love).

To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were loved 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 cannot quench,

Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.

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.