Sonnet 43 from Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Background of the Poem
Sonnet 43 from Sonnets from the Portuguese is a love poem in a sonnet form. Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote this poem in secret when she was being courted by her then husband-to-be, Robert Browning. She wrote a series of 44 sonnets and sonnet 43 became the most famous. These series of poems were published in 1850. The poems express her intense and undying love for Robert. While she conveys her love for him through all these poems, in sonnet 43, she counts the ways of how she loves him. By counting those ways, it showed that her love for him is present in all her walks of life.
Background of the Author
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, born in Durham, England, was the oldest of twelve children and daughter of a strict father, Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett, who owned sugar plantations in Jamaica. When fifteen, Elizabeth “suffered a spinal injury” caused by “saddling a pony”, and became addicted to pain relievers. Being weak, she was sent with her brother Edward to the sea of Torquay, where her brother drowned to death, causing her to be emotionally broken. All the while she had been deep in reading and writing poetry, and she had published some anonymous works which received much unexpected praise. She continued to write, despite her depressed state, but refused to leave her house for the “next five years.” During this time, she produced a collection known as Poems, which caught the eye of a poet who she had mentioned in her poems, Robert Browning. The two privately exchanged over 500 love letters in the subsequent months, Elizabeth’s poems being classified as “Sonnets from the Portuguese,” ranked among the most famous collections of love lyrics in English history. One of these poems was known as “How Do I Love Thee?”
* Simile – comparison of two unlike things using as and like
- I love thee