Sonnet 43

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Sonnet 43 (Sonnets From the Portuguese) BY Elizabeth Barrett Browning 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 every day’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. Criticism Brent Goodman is a…show more content…
In lines where she’s comparing her love to the most domestic or common events of day-to-day living, as in the first line of the second stanza, the rhythm matches this plain or common mood, only slightly deviating from strict meter, “I LOVE thee TO the LEVel of EVery DAY’s…” On the other hand, as she moves on in the poem, and her voice gets more and more passionate as she continues to develop her list of ways she loves her husband, she builds each line’s rhythm to match this mood. By the time we reach the final stanza, her lines find a rhythm of their own, almost completely ignoring traditional form “WITH my LOST SAINTS – I LOVE THEE with the BREATH,/SMILES, TEARS of ALL my LIFE!” Another set structure for sonnets is how each line ends. Traditionally, each line ends with punctuation, a period, comma or otherwise to create a pause and contain a complete thought. Lines which end this way are called end-stopped. Reading through “Sonnet 43”, we notice that five of the 14 lines do not end with a set pause; rather, they are enjambed. Enjambed means to carry over; this term describes how one line flows into the next without hesitation. To try to understand what Barrett Browning’s intentions might be for this move away from traditional form, it is useful again to notice what the mood of the poem is where she breaks the rules. In the first stanza, as she begins to “count the ways,” the ways she
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