Online Poems

for Craig White's Literature Courses

SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE, #43 By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61)

(written c. 1845-6, published 1850)

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.                    4
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.              8
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,      12
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

       Questions for American Literature; Romanticism

 1. British poet E. B. Browning (1806-61) lived during the Romantic and Victorian eras. How do the poem's themes or narratives appear to anticipate

2. Compare "To My Dear and Loving Husband" two centuries earlier by Anglo-American Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet (1612-72). How are both Romantic in the popular (love) and literary (more) senses?

3. How may Romantic poetry and thought reinforce the modern social unit of the nuclear heterosexual family, or vice versa? (Think in terms of a partner who is one's destiny, "the one," etc.? How compatible with Abrahamic religions or modern economies?)