How do I love thee?

Report
HOW DO I LOVE THEE?
BY ELIZABETH BARRET BROWNING (1806-1816)
BACKGROUND
• Born in Durham, England, was the oldest of twelve
children and daughter of a strict father, Edward
Barrett Moulton Barrett, who owned sugar
plantations in Jamaica.
• When fifteen, Elizabeth suffered a spinal injury
caused by saddling a pony, and became
addicted to pain relievers.
• Being weak, she was sent with her brother Edward
to the sea of Torquay, where her brother drowned
to death, causing her to be emotionally broken.
…
• All the while she had been deep in reading and
writing poetry, and she had published some
anonymous works which received much
unexpected praise. She continued to write, despite
her depressed state, but refused to leave her
house for the next five years.
• During this time, she produced a collection known
as Poems, which caught the eye of a poet who she
had mentioned in her poems, Robert Browning.
…
• The two privately exchanged over 500 love
letters in the subsequent months, Elizabeth’s
poems being classified as “Sonnets from the
Portuguese,” ranked among the most
famous collections of love lyrics in English
history. One of these poems was known as
“How Do I Love Thee?”
…
• It is addressed to her husband, who used to call her
'My little Portuguese" as she was dark.
HOW DO I LOVE THEE?
BY ELIZABETH BARRET BROWNING
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 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.
STRUCTURE
• Sonnet
• Petrarchan (but does not follow normal
structure)
• There is no clear break between octave
and sestet.
• Begins with a rhetorical
question.
• Rest of the poem answers
the question.

Petrarchan sonnet structure
First
quatrain
(4 lines)
Second
Quatrain
(4 lines)
A
B
B
A
A
B
B
A
First
tercet
C
D
E
First
tercet
C
D
E
Turn/volta –
a change in
direction of
argument or
narrative
TITLE
• The question in the title and the first line:
'How do I love thee?'
The poet dedicates the rest of the poem
to answering her own question and
expressing the ways in which she loves
her partner.
THEMES
• True love overcomes all and is eternal
in nature.
• True love can be profound, deep and
moving; a spiritual experience.
• The expression of love for another
person can lift life above the
mundane.
• There is hope that great love exists
beyond the grave; that a truly great
love can never die.
TONE AND MOOD
• Sincere, passionate, idealistic.
She shares her feelings honestly
and openly.
ANALYSIS OCTAVE
LINE 1 -2
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
Rhetorical Q
Does not expect
answer – speaker
lists the ways
Repeated; (anaphora) builds
rhythm, emphasises
love/infatuation with partner
Hyperbole
exaggeration
reinforces the poet’s
intense belief in the
extent of her love
Enjambment
(increases pace)
– love reaches far
and wide
LINE 3 - 4
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
• Finds the goal of being
alive
• Capital letters – strong
feelings toward religion.
• Not trapped by limits of
body
• Personification and Apostrophe
- spiritual/religious words 'grace',
'praise', 'saint' and 'God‘ - woman's
love is deep and true, compares
with God’s grace
has feelings of love
beyond her scope of
vision (spiritual realm)
- beyond what she can
see or perceive.
LINE 5 - 6
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
Merely breathing –
needs to love him
like need to
breathe
Alliteration of “l” sound
• Metonymy
• connotation of night and
day - loves her partner not
only during the day but
during the dark hours of the
night too
• Love is continuous
Entire day is
spent with
partner in mind
LINE 7 - 8
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
not compelled or forced to
love, own intention.
Alliteration
of “p”
spound
Not corrupt, does not
expect praise
• slavery occurring
during the 19th
century, not all men
have equal rights.
• Strife for justice and
fairness
“Right” and “Praise =
Personification and
Apostrophe
ANALYSIS SESTET
LINE 9 - 10
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
Jesus’s suffering is referred
to in Christian faith as The
Passion
intensity equal to that
experienced during suffering or
mourning
sense of love is
idealistic and
unchallenged,
blind faith like
a child
LINE 11 - 12
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, – I love thee with the breath,
Euphemism
- Reference to
speaker’s dead
mother and
brother Edward
• Alliteration of “l”
sound
• She loves her
husband the same as
she loved her dead
mother and brother.
LINE 13 - 14
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
No matter
what, love
will always
be strong
• If God wills to put both in Heaven, or both
in Hell, at least they will be able to be with
each other in order to love after death.
• After death, if it is even physically possible
and if God chooses her to have the ability,
then she will choose to love Robert more
after her death.
ANSWERS
1. The poet loves with her whole soul. She loves him
for fulfilling her completely, every hour of the day.
She loves him honourably. She loves him without
asking for flattery or “praise”. She loves him with all
the emotion she experienced when she lost
people se loved. She loves him with a love she
believes , with God’s will, will last for all eternity.
2. a Metonymy
b Sun implies day – sunlight being associated with
and representing day. Candlelight implies night
- a need for artificial light.
…
3. “Depth” ; “breadth”; “height”
4. The word suggests the higher ideals of human
beings; the belief in things that are honourable;
acting according to one’s conscience.
5. False, she knows exactly because she says “let me
count the ways” and she then goes on to list
them.
6. B

similar documents