How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

red rosebud

I love thee to the level of everyday’s most quiet need

Sonnets from the Portuguese No. LXIII

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 candlelight.
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.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (March 6, 1806 – June 29, 1861)
Sonnets from the Portuguese, first published in 1850

Sonnets for a Husband

Yesterday, 9/11. Today, “I love thee with a love I seemed to lose.” I did not plan it, but here we are. 🙂

On September 12th, this day in 1846, Elizabeth Barrett eloped with Robert Browning. These two, both writers, met after supporting each other’s work through a written correspondence. They quickly fell deeply in love.

Elizabeth Barrett’s father wouldn’t allow a marriage, believing Browning to be a fortune hunter. Elizabeth’s writing was more noted than Robert Browning’s, then and now. They were also from different social backgrounds – Barrett came from money, Browning did not.

Barrett and Browning eloped and ran away to Italy, where they lived happily until Elizabeth’s death in 1861. She died in his arms.

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3 Responses to “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

  1. The cypress stood up like a church that night we felt our love would hold | Elizabeth Barrett Browning | Quote Snack Says:

    […] to “gloomy England,” an interesting choice because Elizabeth Barrett Browning herself ran away with her one true love, leaving “gloomy England” for […]

  2. The face of all the world is changed, I think, since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul | Elizabeth Barrett Browning | Quote Snack Says:

    […] through her feelings by secretly writing a series of 44 sonnets. The 43rd Sonnet, beginning “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” is one of the world’s most famous love […]

  3. clarissa mcfairy Says:

    It was appropriate for her to die in his arms, for their souls really seemed thus entwined. It has me thinking about how special it is to die in the arms of a loved one, rather than uncradled; the opposite really of dying in say, a trench.

    This is such a beautiful sonnet. One feels that even if he died without HER arms around HIM, such a poem would have been his everlasting cradle.