Elizabeth Barrett Browning asks, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” (439). There are innumerable ways you are able to love to another individual. Each line of the poem answers her original question, and then goes on to prove (with evidence) that her love is indeed real. Browning describes and expresses her distinct feelings very literally about the one she loves in this poem. She explains love by listing and describing many of the ways that she knows how to love and compares it to circumstances which the readers can relate to. Browning uses love to show readers that there are immeasurable ways to have this passion in How Do I Love Thee? In this poem she expresses three major ideas of love: the depth of her love, the many ways that she loves and the comparison between love and faith.
Browning describes her unconditional, intense love that she feels, “I love thee to the depth, and breadth and height” (439), for her companion. She uses the words “depth” and “breadth” and “height” to prove the extent that her love for him really goes. This made me believe that she physically loves him and will do anything for him in her power. She also describes that her desire goes even past the physical aspect; that she can love him even deeper and beyond the just the exterior, “My soul can reach” (440). This goes to show how far here love truly spreads: mind, body and soul. She even describes her feelings of love going past her visually seeing it, “when feeling out of sight” (440), which makes me believe that her ability to love goes without limits. Love is not only tangible; she can see and feel it regardless of the circumstances. Allison Booth explains that alliteration (457), the repetition of consonants, is a formal feature that is used in this poem. She uses words that include: “purely” and “Praise” (8), “passion” and “put” (9), and “love” and “lose” (11). The speaker implies that she is giving away her whole self to the one man
Cited: Booth, Alison and Kelly J. Mays, eds. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 10th ed. New York: Norton, 2010. Print.