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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

(6 March 1806 – 29 June 1861 / Durham / England)

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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 candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a 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.

Submitted: Saturday, May 12, 2001
Edited: Saturday, May 12, 2001

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  • Veteran Poet - 2,513 Points Walterrean Salley (9/18/2014 4:41:00 AM)

    Learned this poem many years ago and have never forgotten it. So inspirational that one can feel it when reading, or reciting, it. So beautiful. (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 6,046 Points Sandra Feldman (8/8/2014 4:27:00 PM)

    How Do I Love Thee and Annabelle Lee are for me, the 2 most beautiful and perfect LOVE Poems ever written (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 8 Points Sj Holland (8/8/2013 9:13:00 PM)

    Mrs. Browning begins to count what is uncountable. She contains what is not containable. And she shows through her effort to define, that her love breaks every boundary that will every exist. Her poem is an admirable attempt to define a growing, all-consuming yet dignified love. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (8/8/2012 2:03:00 PM)

    This is an almost idolatrous love – she equates her love with that of the soul devoted to the search for the divine.

    She focuses her love from several sources into a pure intense flame of total devotion. What man could stand such a flame I do not know!

    This is a passionate woman – she does not mention physical love yet one can infer that it is included in this love, though subject to it. This love will continue past the age of sexual desire. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Carlos Echeverria (8/8/2012 10:53:00 AM)

    Viewed thru the prism of our post-modern world,
    I see this love poem full of snark;
    written on a lark-
    it ends on a note dark
    enough to make my skin curl. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Brett Strotman (6/13/2012 12:42:00 AM)

    Probally one of my favorite poems I've ever heard before in my life. It's a really beautiful and peaceful poem. I love it. A+ (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 352 Points Juan Olivarez (8/8/2011 7:44:00 AM)

    This is one of the best poems ever written, the expression of affection has nothing confusing or contradictory about it. It is merely and expression of love that will continue after death, if that be possible. Elizabeth Barrett Browning in my opinion, was a much better poet than her husband. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 212 Points Ramesh T A (8/8/2011 4:24:00 AM)

    Elizabeth loves Browning more than words can describe it and has better said in detail in this fine sonnet! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 67 Points Rekha Mandagere (8/8/2011 2:39:00 AM)

    Great write! Love is not just a passion but devotion and its boundary cannot be defined. Fantastic expression of love which is unique and eternal need of mankind. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,948 Points Pranab K Chakraborty (8/8/2011 12:52:00 AM)

    A quiet hard task poet took himself on his shoulder to define the measurment of loving passion. Very hard specially for a poet who naturally and hardly speaks truth. And when they speak truth that is also so contradictory common reader becomes confused. Obviously for this reason after a long try of illustrating the unit, poet utters the final and ultimate dialogue...I shall but love thee better after death....Great relief. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michelle Zarindast (8/6/2011 11:21:00 AM)

    Elizabeth Browning actually wrote this poem in response to a poem written to her first, by her husband, Robert Browning. (Report) Reply

Read all 34 comments »

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