What’s Your Take on Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Famous Sonnet?


240_F_101827483_YDbOrqdZrZspBnoUYyPmTDpxg5rdt4IHEnglish Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14. 620. Sonnets from the Portuguese XLIII

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)

HOW do I love thee?

Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of

Being and ideal


I love thee to the level of everyday’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for

Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from

Praise. I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

this seems to say that a love reserved for the most deserved of all loves, as deep and wide and strong and compassionate a love that exists, after all, is the kind of love described here; a fusion of passion and purity, fathoms of clarity entwined with a love so irrevocable from one’s spirit that to undo it would be to invoke death


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