“They don’t make them like they used to” is a phrase commonly heard in today’s day and age. Quite frankly, it is very true. Nothing is made with the quality that it used to have. When we think of this phrase we think of common everyday items. Things like washers and dryers, the cars we drive, even the irons we use don’t last as long as they should. But this phrase is true in reference to people as well.
People simply are not made like they used to be. Not raised like they used to be. This affects everything in our lives.
We walk around with headphones in, phones in front of our faces, and there is no need for us to have one single human interaction all day long. Everything we do, for majority of society we do it not for pleasure, but so we can put it on a social media site for everyone to see, for everyone to brag on.
That is how we get our gratification. In today’s “social media age” this is how a relationship is formed. You “swipe right” on someone to let them know you are romantically interested in them. We have forgotten how to love deeply, and we have forgotten how to truly communicate those overwhelming feelings of love and passion to a significant someone in our lives. All because every daily relationship we have, meaningful or not, is through technology.
A text message, a direct message, a facetime, a Snapchat, an email even.
We hide behind these screens every day telling people our “feelings”. The art of writing a love letter is gone. The romance and sheer importance of pouring your heart out to someone with pen and paper, or heaven forbid, in person, is almost nonexistent these days. However undeniable passion is what connects these two specific poems to one another. Upon deep analyzation it is apparent that both Anne Bradstreet’s poem, “To my dear and loving husband”, and William Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” are saturated with references describing their deep, true, and pure love for their partners.
In Anne Bradstreet’s “To my dear and loving husband” she uses literary devices such as symbols, imagery, and wordplay to fully emphasize the depth of her love to the audience. For example, the word “ever” occurs four times in her poem, which really stands out for a work that is not very long. She also uses it in two different ways but somewhat relates them. In the first three lines, the word means something like “at any time”, but in the last line it means “forever”. Both uses of the word suggest that Bradstreet is obsessed with thinking about long periods of time. Thus, reiterating the fact that her romance is going to last for all of eternity. Starting in line one when she says, “If ever two were one, then surely we.” she is basically comparing their love to that of every couple that has ever loved in the world, making it be known that she has very high confidence in her relationship. Then on top of that, she starts each line one through three with the phrase “if ever” this use of an anaphora adds emphasis to her point that other women cannot even try to match her when it comes to being happy, and the love that she has for her man.
The use of love as a symbol in this poem is evident. It is a poem entirely about her marital love. In lines five and six Bradstreet writes, “I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold, or all the riches that the East doth hold.” The “East” is a symbol of the exotic wealth that westerners believed Asia and other unexplored areas had among them. Then in line seven, she uses metaphors to state that her love is so strong not even rivers can snuff it out, and then compares it to a fire, or any other force that a river might not be able to “quench”. The common theme that Bradstreet uses throughout her poem is love. Whether she is portraying it through symbolism or metaphors, she spends the bulk of her poem finding different ways to describe her unconditional, unstoppable, undying love for her husband.
In William Shakespeare’s “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day” he also uses literary devices such as symbolism, and imagery as well as personification to paint a picture of his selfless love. This entire poem is thick with figurative language. Shakespeare writes that his beloved is better than a summer’s day, but once the wonder of his beloved’s life is captured in his poetry, he or she will be immortal, always having an “eternal summer”. The last two lines paint this picture thoroughly, “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee”. The subject is rendered here so elegantly through metaphor, almost memorialized even, and given value and worth. Value and worth which is as equally as romantic as love in this case. Shakespeare also uses beautiful imagery and personification throughout this sonnet. Particularly, to describe the sun. He writes lines like, “Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines”, “and often his gold complexion dimmed”, and “And every fair from fair sometime declines/By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed”.
He does this to explain that a summer’s day might have harsh things in store, but the youth of his beloved is free from flaws, and that all beautiful things occasionally become inferior and decline from perfection, but after this poem is written his beloved will not. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 is full of symbolism to describe his love, but one of the most beautiful uses of the symbolism is at the end of the poem, stressing that not even death will be able to take away the memory of the love that they had. Though Shakespeare’s poem is not quite as straightforward as Bradstreet’s they share lots of similarities through their overall themes of love and adoration. Both Anne Bradstreet and William Shakespeare were individuals that are overflowing with emotions that they beautifully communicated with the world. This is clearly portrayed in their respective poems. Both authors use literary devices such as imagery, symbolism, and extended metaphors to describe their undeniable love for their beloved partners. Formally and thematically, each poem echoes the other.
While Bradstreet directly and unabashedly declares her love for her husband, Shakespeare leaves room for the reader to interpret his love on their own, but it is undeniable that each author is promising to love their partner for eternity. Though both writing styles are very different, Bradstreet’s being very straightforward, and Shakespeare’s full of innuendo, both writers make it evident that they are overflowing not only with passion but with endless ability to share their passion in such articulate ways that keep their respective audiences captivated. While it is true that “they don’t make them like they used to”, there is much that we can learn about how to express such intimate feelings from both of these incredible communicators. Filled with intricate literary descriptions, “To my dear and loving husband” and “Shall I compare the to a warm summer’s day” are both perfect examples of their admiration, adoration, allegiance to their respective partners.