Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was the first notable American poet and first woman to be published in Colonial America. Born in England, she and her husband immigrated in 1630 with her parents and the other Puritans who settled the Massachusetts Bay colony. Her husband traveled often, and many of Bradstreet’s poems reflect her love for him and her loneliness during his absences. Her first volume of poems, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America . . . by a Gentlewoman in Those Parts, was published in 1650.
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 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 persevere
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
A Letter to Her Husband,
absent upon publick
My head, my heart, mine eyes, my life,
My joy, my magazine of earthly store,
If two be one, as surely thou and I,
How stayest thou there, whilst I at Ipswich lie?
So many steps, head from the heart to sever,
If but a neck, soon should we be together.
I like the Earth this season, mourn in black,
My Sun is gone so far in’s zodiac,
Whom whilst I ‘joyed, nor storms, nor frost I felt,
His warmth such frigid colds did cause to melt.
My chilled limbs now numbed lie forlorn;
Return; return, sweet Sol, from Capricorn;
In this dead time, alas, what can I more
Than view those fruits which through thy heat I bore?
Which sweet contentment yield me for a space,
True living pictures of their father’s 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 nature’s sad decree shall call thee hence;
Flesh of thy flesh, bone of thy bone,
I here, thou there, yet but both one.