Vocabulary in To My Dear and Loving Husband

Vocabulary Examples in To My Dear and Loving Husband:

Text of the Poem 8

"Thy love..."   (Text of the Poem)

Notice that “my love” in line seven is reciprocated by “thy love” in this line, subtly emphasizing the idea that there must be mutual reciprocity and balance in marriage. Consider though, that the speaker here somewhat contradicts her previous line, by suggesting that actually, she cannot repay her husband for his incredible love for her, only God can.

"recompense..."   (Text of the Poem)

“Recompense” means to “compensate,” which signals a return to the idea of love and marriage as a monetary transaction. Note however, that this exchange between the lovers implies their equality, because the line can be loosely paraphrased as “my love for you can only be compensated by your love for me.”

"doth..."   (Text of the Poem)

“Doth” is an archaic form of the word “does.” The word features prominently in Elizabethan literature, and although Bradstreet is writing after the reign of Queen Elizabeth, she was well known for her use of Elizabethan traditions in her writings, even after moving to the American colonies.

"thy..."   (Text of the Poem)

The possessive pronoun “thy” means “of or belonging to thee.” The speaker is addressing her husband here, suggesting that she values his love for her “more than whole Mines of gold.” Note the capitalization of “Mines.” Bradstreet may have capitalized the word to indicate the amount of riches in the mines, since during Bradstreet’s time, rules regarding capitalization were not as definitive as they are today.

"if you can..."   (Text of the Poem)

This line might be read in a few different ways. In the previous line, the speaker says that if there were ever a wife truly happy with her husband, that wife would be the speaker. The next line thus could be read as “Women, compare your happiness in your marriage to mine,” or “Women, compare yourself to me if you can.” However, the line could also be read as addressing the speaker’s husband “Darling, compare me with other women, if you can.” Regardless of interpretation, the speaker makes a bold claim about how incomparable the love she shares with her husband is to anything else.

"ye..."   (Text of the Poem)

Although it may be tempting to translate the term “ye” into “you,” the term actually means “the.” The fourth line differs from the first three in that the speaker shifts the focus from herself and her husband to women in general.

"thee..."   (Text of the Poem)

While the word “thee” may seem formal to modern readers at first glance; however, in Bradstreet’s time, the word actually suggested intimacy and closeness. The speaker’s use of the word thus further underscores the deeper connection that the speaker has with her husband.

"surely..."   (Text of the Poem)

Note the speaker’s bold use of the word “surely,” which suggests that there is no room for arguments or alternatives. Consider too, that she uses the term “we” to speak for herself and her husband. Her confidence in the genuine compatibility and connection in this union is apparent.