How do I love thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a poem from the Sonnet from the Portuguese sequence which the poet had written during her days of courtship by Robert Browning. This poem is a true reflection of the intense love which the poet felt for her beloved. This article provides a complete summary and analysis of how do I love thee by Browning.
The poet while trying to express her undying love for her beloved begins to count the some ways in which she loves him. By counting the number of ways, the poet is trying to show that the love in her heart for her soul mate is present in all her walks of life. It is a way of expressing the beautiful fact that everything in and around her leads her to that love.
The poet says that the love which she feels for her beauty is so strong that it fills every pore of her soul. The adoration which Elizabeth carries in her heart is a part of her existence which is why when she tries to map the out of sight boundaries of her soul and the world around her, she realizes that her love for her beloved extends just as far.
This means that her affection defines her existence and the world around in ways which is not apparent to the mortal sight. Only the poet feels the power of that true love which envelops her. After adding this hint of divinity to her poem the poet transcends to a more down to earth description of her love. She says that her lover is her everyday need. She is so deeply in love with her soul mate that he is as important as the basic necessities of life. She wants to see her love in the light of the sun and by the candle-light. This means that she wants to be with her love at all hours of the day such that every minute of her existence is filled by him.
Next in this How do I love thee summary we will try to understand the nature of the poet’s love. The poet believes that every man has basic ethical goodness in him which helps him choose the right path. Her affection for her beloved is as effortless as a man’s abstention from what is wrong. This means that the love in her heart comes to her as naturally as the intrinsic goodwill present in mankind. She further adds that she does not love or write about it with expectations of praise in return. She writes about it to show to the world and her beloved the love which grips her heart through her true words.
The poet while shedding further light upon her love tells us that the passion which she feels for her better half is like the one which she felt when she was deeply grieved. Passion arising out of a grieved heart is of the deepest kind. She says that after falling in love with her beloved those old grievances seem insignificant now as all that passion which they infused in her then gets used up in loving her beau now. Her love is of the kind which pulls the poet out of faithlessness.
When she is with her love she feels the same sense of security which she felt when she was a kid. When we are kids we are unaware of the unfairness of the world and believe in goodness but as we grow up that belief dwindles. The poet is taken back to that childhood faith of hers after falling in love with her soul-mate.
Next the poet talks about the intensity of her affection. She says that her love is present in every breath that she takes. This means she lives to love. Her love emanates from all her smiles and tears which tell the readers that she loves her soul mate through both good and trying times. He is there with her in all the good and bad phases of her life.
Elizabeth Barrett finishes this poem on a very philosophical note. She says that the love which she feels is immortal and if she is allowed by God she would continue loving her beloved even after death and in her afterlife. This startling ending provides a unique beauty to the poem which mesmerize the readers and provokes them to think about love.
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