To My Dear and Loving Husband
by Anne Bradstreet
The phrase "loving husband" occurs in the title of the poem, which tells us that this is probably a poem about marital love. In fact, that's exactly what it is. The speaker compares love to a powerful, unstoppable force, as an extraordinary gift that can never be repaid, as a means to achieve immortality, and just about everything else you might expect. True love is so incredible that it can actually defy the laws of physics and make two people feel like they are one. Awesome.
- Line 1: The speaker says that she and her husband are "one." But one how? Are they of one mind? One body? One spirit?
- Line 2: If ever a man was "loved by wife," the speaker's husband is. Okay, so we know she totally digs her husband.
- Lines 5-6: And it turns out he digs her, too, because the speaker values her husband's love more than "mines of gold" and "all the riches that the East doth hold." The "East" is here a symbol of the exotic wealth that westerners believed Asia and other unexplored areas held.
- Line 7: The speaker's love is so strong that not even rivers can snuff it out. That's some powerful stuff. The speaker seems to compare her love to a fire, or any other force that a river might conceivably "quench," which makes this line a metaphorin our book. Unless she really thinks a giant river's about to bear down on her.
- Line 8: Only her husband's "love" can give her "recompense" for her love. The word "recompense" means compensation, or payment for something. The metaphor our speaker uses here compares marital love to a business transaction, or any transaction that involves a give and take. It's a wee bit less romantic than the whole river thing, but we'll take it.
- Line 9: The speaker says she cannot "repay" her husband's love. This is a metaphor in which love is compared to some kind of gift or service that it is impossible to pay her husband back for. Maybe it's just Shmoop, but do you think our speaker is starting to sound a bit guilty? Lines 11-12: The speaker says that she and her husband should "persever[e]" in love because it will allow them to live even after they've died ("ever").