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Puritan/Pilgrim Poems & Anne Bradstreet
Posted by: Edward Rosenstein (204.31.170.---)
Date: October 25, 2000 03:35PM

I am looking for poems of love written in 1600's America similar to those below
by Anne Bradstreet---

Puritan Marriage:

Anne Bradstreet's Poems to Her Husband---(1612-1672)

Several of Anne Bradstreet's poems describe her relationship with husband Simon
Bradstreet. Simon served in a variety of governmental positions within
Massachusetts, including governor, and his responsibilities often took him away
from the home he had made with Anne and their eight children.

"To My Dear and Loving Husband"

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd 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 then 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 recompence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.
Then while we live, in love lets so persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Bradstreet's poem celebrates the relationship she shared with her husband. Her
effusive words and the boastful tone she exhibits in line 4 contrast with modern
readers' image of Puritan writers, but she does not escape this heritage
altogether. Notice how the poem moves from the earthly to the spiritual in lines
11-13; it begins as a tribute to Bradstreet's husband and ends with a
reaffirmation of eternal life and the request that the "heavens reward" him.

"A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Publick Employment"

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 life 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 no nummed 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.

Puritans referred to the world around them as the "Book of Nature" and regarded
nature as a window through which they could learn more about God and his
disposition toward their community. Puritans interpreted natural disasters such
as hurricanes, drought, and famine as indications that God was displeased with
them and looked for rainbows, good weather, and unusual phenomena such as
falling stars for signs that they were among God's favored people. See David
Hall, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New
England for more information.
Bradstreet uses natural elements as metaphors throughout this poem. Given the
Puritan belief in the Book of Nature and their use of the Sun to symbolize God,
Bradstreet's use of such metaphors to describe an earthly relationship could be
construed as somewhat subversive. This poem lacks an explicit religious message;
in fact, Bradstreet refers to her husband's eventual death not with acceptance
and a religious explanation, but rather as "natures sad decree" (line 23).

"Another [Letter to her Husband, Absent upon Publick Employment]"

As loving Hind that (Hartless) wants her Deer,
Scuds through the woods and Fern with harkning ear,
Perplext, in every bush and nook doth pry,
Her dearest Deer, might answer ear or eye;
So doth my anxious soul, which now doth miss,
A dearer Dear (far dearer Heart) then this.
Still wait with doubts, and hopes, and failing eye,
His voice to hear, or person to discry.
Or, as the pensive Dove doth all alone
(On withered bough) most uncouthly bemoan
The absence of her Love, and loving Mate,
Whose loss hath made her so unfortunate:
Ev'n thus doe I, with many a deep sad groan
Bewail my turtle true, who now is gone,
His presence and his safe return, still wooes,
With thousand dolefull sighs and mournfull Cooes.
Or as the loving Mullet, that true Fish,
Her fellow lost, nor joy nor life do wish,
But launches on that shore, there for to dye,
Where she her captive husband doth espy.
Mine being gone, I lead a joyless life,
I have a loving phere, yet seem no wife:
But worst of all, to him can't steer my course,
I here, he there, alas, both kept by force:
Return my Dear, my joy, my only Love,
Unto thy Hinde, thy Mullet and thy Dove,
Who neither joyes in pasture, house, nor streams,
The substance gone, O me, these are but dreams.
Together at one Tree, oh let us brouze,
And like two Turtles roost within one house,
And like the Mullets in one River glide,
Let's still remain but one, till death divide.
Thy loving Love and Dearest Dear,
At home, abroad, and every where.

As in the above poem, Bradstreet uses poetry to express love for her husband and
regret at his frequent absences.

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