Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s is one of the most recognised and revolutionary Victorian women poets her poetry is some of the most respected of that time. The themes Browning discusses in her poetry range from love, motherhood and death to poems which embody political and social themes. Barrett was a poet of the ‘Romantic Period’ and as a result her poetry is saturated with symbols of love in particular she expresses her love for close companions. ‘Lionized by her contemporaries, Elizabeth Barrett was considered a possible contemporary of William Wordsworth as poet Laureate of England; she enjoyed a wide popular recognition.’[1] This recognition made her receive wide critical acclaim, in particular her poems which deal with love and women’s psychology garnered a huge response from Victorian readers as her poetry was insightful and certainly not typical of Victorian women’s poetry; Elizabeth Barrett was a ‘risk-taker’ and her poetry was brazen. Her poetry discussing the theme of love contains rich and impressive imagery taken from her own experiences of falling in love, giving birth, her political views, marriage and being a wife and mother- perhaps her own experiences add to the innovation of her poetry. Elizabeth’s early life was subjugated by her love for poetry and she was dedicated to writing from an exceptionally young age, during this time her poetry received great recognition. ‘For the first twenty years of adult life Elizabeth Barrett Browning was not married, and during that time she achieved recognition as a poet of note; then, at the age of forty, she married Robert Browning and, after at least one miscarriage, gave birth to a son when she was fourty-three.’[2]

The first poem I will discuss is titled ‘How Do I Love Thee?” this poem is taken from EBB’s most lastingly popular collection Sonnets from the Portuguese and is also recognized by the title Sonnet XLIII. Barrett wrote this collection of love poems while she was being courted by her future...
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