Study Guide

To My Dear and Loving Husband Love

By Anne Bradstreet


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 (2-4)

What's with the phrase "compare with me ye women"? The poem is supposed to be a testament of love addressed to the woman's husband, but in line 4 the speaker throws down a challenge and addresses it to women everywhere. It makes us think she's more concerned with outdoing her friends than focusing on her husband. What do you think?

I prize thy love more than whole mines of Gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold (5-6)

While these lines suggests that love is more important than material things like gold and riches, the fact that our speaker uses the word "prize" makes love seem like yet another kind of precious metal or gem. But what word would fit better here? Value? Cherish?

My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompense (7-8)

The rhyme on "quench" and "recompense" is very odd. It's the only imperfect rhyme in the poem (note that only the "-en" sounds in the middle of the words rhyme). At the very moment that the speaker describes the power of her love, the poem gets a little messy. Perhaps the breakdown of the rhyme points to the way the speaker is affected by love. She can't find the right words.

Thy love is such I can no way repay
The heavens reward thee manifold I pray (9-10)

Why can't the speaker "repay" her husband's love? Isn't her love for her husband a kind of return payment? For a moment here, the husband's love seems just a bit better, or more powerful. For some reason the speaker feels her love for her husband isn't quite up to snuff.