On Her Loving Two Equally by Aphra Behn to My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet

1 November 2013

On Her Loving Two Equally by Aphra Behn
To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet
On Her Loving Two Equally and To My Dear and Loving Husband are both poems about love. They both speak of deep, and all-consuming love, however; the authors have distinctly different ways of expressing their feelings on the subject. Anne Bradstreet speaks of the love for just one man, and the splendor and glory of their emotional, undying commitment to each other. While Aphra Behn speaks of the love she has for two very different men, this is a dissatisfying, non-committal, type of love, but love none the same.
In the poem On Loving Two Equally Behn makes her feelings clear right from the beginning, in fact she states it plainly in the title. For a woman living during the seventeenth century this was a bold matter. But Aphra Behn it seems was indeed a bold woman, author, playwright and poet. "From 1666-7 Aphra Behn served King Charles II as a spy in Antwerp, Netherlands, incurring debts in her work, which unpaid (as Charles II was notoriously slow in remitting payments) she served a stint in debtors' prison." (Jokinen)
This was a turning point in Behn's life and she began to write.''Behn was the first to consider herself a writer by profession, one "forced to write for Bread and not ashamed to owne it." (Jokinen) "Although Aphra Behn's contemporaries, and the prudish eras after, vilified and belittled her accomplishments as a writer due to her rampant and unapologetic use of sexual subjects, current critics can judge her on her merits alone." Her career did break ground for the women who came after, which prompted Virginia Woolf's now-famous lines:
All women together ought to let flowers fall upon
the tomb of Aphra Behn, ...for it was she who earned
them the right to speak their minds." (Jokinen).
Knowing a little bit about Aphra Behn helps us to better understand her willingness to bear her feelings for these two men. Though it is not known if...