Sonnet 42 How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning Born in 1806 in England, Elizabeth was born into an affluent family who owned sugarcane plantations in Jamaica. After a secret courtship, she married the successful British poet Robert Browning in 1846.
Her sonnet uses the Italian format with a rhyming pattern of an octet and sestet making up the 14 lines. She uses assonance with depth and breadth; reach and feeling; and, being and ideal for overall euphonious effect. How do I love thee? Le t 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.
She repeats I love thee to emphasize her feelings. She uses a simile to compare her love to the acts of noble men. I love thee to the level of every days 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.
She uses sound devices, such as alliteration, to add an elegant nature of the poem. An invalid and six years older than Robert Browning, she doubted his love for her. I love theee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhoods faith; I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With the dash, she emphasizes her feelings, breaking up the formality with a verbal outburst of simple words. She died in 1861, in her husbands arms. Browning said she died smilingly, with the face of a girls. Her last word wasBeautiful. 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. Much of her poetry has religious themes, after being inspired by Miltons Paradise Lost and Dantes Inferno.