Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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The Poet:

  • Victorian era
  • Sick throughout her life
  • Published at age of 15
  • Very poriminant poet in UK and USA
  • Married another famous poet - Robert Browning (originally a fan)
  • Deeply relgious woman

Sonnet form: 

  • (See Sonnet 116)
  • First octave presents theme in the poem comparing love to religion 
  • The final sestet - compares intensity between now and intensity in childhood


  • One of her 44 sonnets to Robert Browning
  • Romantic, whooing love


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

  • 1st line - direct adress, hypophora, beginning engages reader, different ways she loves him, unquantifiable nature of love, exclamation mark shows that delights in the opportunity to explain her love for him 
  • next three lines are much more complex
  • 'I love thee to the depth and breadth and height' - sydetic listing, spacial metaphor, I love every part of you, very normal measurments for something that can't actually be measure (love), internal rhymn is used 'depth and breadth', rule of 3 shows the scale magnitutude and intesnity of love 
  • 'soul' - mind and emotions of people, religious imagry
  • 'Ideal Grace' - religious, heaven, redemtion, opposite to soul (this represents the spiritual part of her), the love she has for him is all encompassing, unifying love, spiritual salvation that love offers
  • 'feeling out of sight' - blind faith, she doesn't really know what she's getting herself in to but she doesn't care because she loves him and trusts him 

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


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