Friday, May 18, 2007

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "How Do I Love Thee?"

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 grace.
I love thee to the level of every day'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.

In this poem a woman is expressing her deep love for a man, and I pick up a strong sense of romanticism. I like this because much of my own writing is based upon love, so I can relate to many of the lines. There is a repitition of "I love thee..." several times throughout, emphasizing the woman's love. Also all the ways she does love him are extended to cover many different reasons and situations. She loves him with feelings of freedom, purity, and wholeness, yet also with the idea that she needs his love - a love the woman had lost internally before, but feels that he can revive.