How Do I Love Thee

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Reading Response: “How Do I Love Thee”
Antiria Jenkins
ENG 125 Introduction to Literature
Instructor: Julie Pal-Agrawal
August 27, 2012

The poem I’ve chosen to write about is “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Born in 1806, Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a female who developed a love for poetry following a spinal injury that occurred in 1821 from a terrible fall. Browning's "Sonnets from the Portuguese" was published in two volumes titled Poems. In “How Do I Love Thee” Browning declares her spiritual and pure love for her fiancé, Robert, expressing the depth of her love, an attempt to describe the indescribable and the comparison to known feelings and interactions. In this poem, I’ve found three interesting and engaging elements that have helped me understand this piece of literature: symbolism, word choice (diction) and imagery. According to Frost, “there are three things, after all, that a poem must reach: the eye, the ear, and what we may call the heart or the mind. It is most important of all to reach the heart of the reader” (Clugston, 2010). In “How Do I Love Thee” Elizabeth Barrett Browning has certainly reached the heart of the readers, especially me. In this sonnet, love is everything and Browning tries to compare and symbolize the love she has for “thee” to many different things. For example, in line 1, she poses the question, “How do I love thee?” (Browning, 1845), which symbolizes that her love is not material, but is given purely and freely to Robert as she explains and reveals the depth of her love for him. Browning uses a strong word choice throughout the poem. In line 9, she states “I love with a passion put to use” (Browning, 1845) which indicates how deeply in love she is. By using the word “passion” she helped me become more understanding of the type of love she has for “thee”. Another word choice used that caught my eyes is line 2and 3 when she says, “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach,...
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