Lovely Love Poems: Let Me Count the Ways

Another poem from the days of freshman-year English. I had to both memorize this poem and write an explication about it. Here’s a thesis from my paper, which is still tucked into my Norton next to this poem, dated Sept. 25, 2002. “Through a sonata-like style and moving lyrics, Browning presents a beautiful image of a simple yet infinite love.”

I don’t know about that sonata jazz, but I do think the bottom line here is this: I love you forever.

from Sonnets from the Portuguese, no. 43

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 candle-light.
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 (1850)

Fun fact: When I lived in Florence, I lived on Via Maggio, in a building next door to the building where EBB lived. It was pretty great.


About LE

PR professional by day, writer by night. Remembering life isn't an episode of "Saved By the Bell." Getting culture, not babies.

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