The "Farmer" of the poem's title begins this dramatic monologue by telling the story of his wedding—not, as it will turn out, an especially happy occasion. In a strong rural English dialect, he explains that he got married about three years ago to a wife who was probably too young, either for him or for marriage in general. Whatever the case, the speaker is clearly aware that his wife was not an appropriate partner. He defends his decision nonetheless, claiming that he was too busy harvesting crops to wait around for the perfect wife and spend time winning her over.
But even as he defends his choice, he seems conflicted about his decision to marry such a young girl. The suggestion that she might have been "too young" is the very first idea that comes into his mind when he thinks about their engagement. But just as quickly as the idea that he is responsible for the struggles of the marriage pops up in the speaker's mind, he brushes it off and moves on. The consonance in these lines reflects his guilt and denial:
Too young maybe—but more's to do
At harvest-time than bide and woo.
Those sharp /t/ sounds accentuate the speaker's brusque dismissiveness, making it sound as if he's irritatedly batting away his own doubts about his marriage.
The speaker's language here also establishes the power imbalance in this relationship. He says, "I chose a bride," making it clear that the decision to marry was his alone. Plus, the speaker's excuse that he was simply too busy to find the perfect bride implies that, in this speaker's world, a man can pick up a bride as casually as he might buy a new shirt—and not be too picky about it if he's in a rush.
The poem's first few lines also establish the poem's rural setting (and its symbolic power). The speaker measures time with the passage of the seasons ("Three summers," "At harvest-time"), which will come to represent the phases of life—and the substantial age gap between the speaker and his young bride. He also defends himself with the claim that he was focused on his harvest, calling attention to his career as a farmer and hinting at his fixation on fertility: getting a good "harvest" of children from his wife will become one of his central concerns.