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“It is better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all.” Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), a famous poet from the modern period, published “Love is not all” in 1931, centuries after “To My Dear and Loving Husband”, by puritan poet Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), was published in 1678. While comparing these two poems, one can see many similarities and differences ascribed to the different time periods they were written.
“To My Dear and Loving Husband” and “Love is not all” are different in their content and meaning.
Although both of the poets are exploring the relationship between love and death, they come to different results at the end of their work. Bradstreet finds her love for her husband so worthy when she says, “I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold”(l.5). On the other hand Millay thinks that she “might be driven to sell [his] love for peace,”(l.12). One can notice a contrast in tone between the two poems.
Bradstreet’s tone is spiritual, while Millay’s tone is playful.
There is one paradox in each of the poems. In “To My Dear and Loving Husband”, Bradstreet explains that people who are no longer alive on earth can be alive forever in heaven. She says, “that when we live no more, we may live ever”(l.12). Millay explains that love can’t save lives but people can die without it. This paradox is spread in the first six lines of the poem. Although these poems are written in different time periods, they have many similarities considering their content and meaning.
Ann Bradstreet and Edna St. Vincent Millay have different styles. Part of this difference is ascribed to the different time periods in which they lived. In “To My Dear and Loving Husband” images like gold, debt, and nature are some that come to reader’s mind, but in “Love is not all” one can see more images while reading the poem. People rising and sinking, blood, and fractured bones are some of them. The two poems are different in their diction too. Millay’s diction is contemporary but Bradstreet’s language is archaic and old fashioned. She uses words and phrases that were common in seventeenth century language as when she says, “Thy love is such I can no way repay” (l.9). Although a regular reader may not notice, both poems have rhyming scheme.
“To My Dear and Loving Husband” is written in rhyming couplets, meanwhile “Love is not all” is written in English or Shakespearean sonnet. The use of figurative language is not really noticeable in any of the poems. Bradstreet says, “My love is such that rivers cannot quench, nor ought but love from thee, give recompense. “, which is the only metaphor she uses in her poem (l.6). Millay’s most noticeable use of figurative language is when she says, “Yet many a man is making friends with death”, which is a personification (l.7). As explained, the different time periods in which these poems were written causes the greatest difference in their style.
If I wanted to write a poem about love, I would write about the love of mother for her child. I believe the mother’s love is the purest and most beautiful love. I would include many images showing how a mother cares about her child and how her love is unconditional. I would also use figurative language to explain the love of a mother for her child. I may say how a mother protects her child from all the dangers by comparing it to nature. Or I may use simile to show how desperate a child can be without her mother’s support and care. I would conclude my poem by trying to make the reader believe that people should have more respect and care about their parents and the fact that without them, they would be nothing.
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