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How Do I Love Thee? Let me Count the Ways by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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A flame of passion is contained within the heart, yet is love contained in a mere flame of passion? This timeless saying embodies the ultimate declaration of love written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “How Do I Love Thee? Let me Count the Ways” is a poem bathed in rhyme and inundated in sentimental avowals. This sonnet shows the perpetual love that Browning shares with her husband and how that love can never be destroyed by any power of human or spiritual nature (Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s: Sonnet 45). Based on answering one, seemingly simple yet complex, question, “how do I love thee?” (Browning Line 1) is what this poem is based on. Using literary tools and techniques, Browning unleashes the powerful emotions that hide behind the ink that each word is devotedly written in.
The title itself shows the numbers of ways that Browning loves her husband, so many that she must count them. The second line focuses on the reality of her love and the extensions of its outreach. Browning uses anaphora as she repeats the sounds found in “thee” (Browning Line 1) and “the” (Browning Line 1). Her love is three dimensional and therefore real, in the sense that all real physical things in the universe are three dimensional. Breadth is width, a measurement of how far across her love is. Height and depth represent how far down and how far up her love is, in relation to the universe. Depth and breadth is an internal rhyme injected to create the essence of the sonnet.

Browning continues explaining how her adoration is inexplicable even in the most spiritual of senses. Finding true bliss and balance is what this love has given her. Love is a feng shui of sorts. Through the use of alliteration, she explains “My souls can reach, when feeling out...


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...cribe the most elaborate of thoughts. At first, the reader feels as if they fully understand the text but a deeper look exposes more than just a superficial love poem. The work doesn’t seem like an act of fiction because the realities of the sentiments are absorbed within the text.
In the end, Browning loves him freely, without coercion; she loves him purely, without expectation of personal gain. Her love is a sacrificial love, trials or tribulations can never waiver it. Browning uses numerous poetic devices such as metaphors and alliterations to amplify the implications she intends for the reader to feel. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” is a fairy tale transcended into reality. Love knows no reason but yet defies all reason. This very saying is the crux of Browning poem. In the end, she “shall but love thee better after death.” (Browning Line 14).



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