The poem 'How Do I Love Thee?' by Elizabeth Browning

Categories: Enduring Love

The noise of the poem is measured, rhythmic and peaceful and the poet’s use of alliteration, assonance and sibilance give a sense of a hushed, calm tone. Her choice of diction, enjambment and the picked rhythm of iambic pentameter offers an exact and unhurried feel to the sound of the poem. The reader senses the poet’s passion and enduring love in a mild way and is entrusted a feeling that the poets life invested within doors, silently considering her love of Browning, is shown in the poem – particularly with the line “I enjoy thee to the level of every day’s The majority of quiet need, by sun and candle-light”.

Other poetic techniques utilized to convey the ever lasting and deep love displayed in the poem is using enjambment in lines 2 and 3, 5 and 6, 9 and 10, and in lines 11 and 12. Her use of enjambment communicates the liberty, continuation and endurance of her love and permits the poem to stream freely. The poet likewise uses parallelism in the lines 7 and 8: “I like thee easily, as men pursue Right; I love thee simply as they turn from Praise.

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” By duplicating similar syntax in these lines, she stresses that her love is both totally free and pure; but these lines also represent the very same fervour of commitment to the rights of guy that both Barrett Browning and her brand-new spouse would have felt. As Liberals and Romantic poets, both Robert Browning and Barrett Browning would have felt the very same enthusiasm for liberty, fraternity and equality, and the lines 7 and 8 show both the poets and Robert Browning’s opinions, preserving a familiarity of belief in between the fans.

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Hyperbole is used by Barrett Browning to express the extremes of her love and is proven in lines 2, 12 and 13. The lines are: “I enjoy thee with the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach” and “I enjoy thee with the breath smiles, tears of all my life”. By utilizing embellishment to exaggerate and emphasise the boundless and endless extremities of her love she is communicating her love to be eternal, without restraint and endless. The poet likewise utilizes tripling in these lines which might convey her sense of the divine within the trinity of God along with making an emphasis on the depth of her love.

The shape of the poem can be separated into an octave and a sestet, where, in line 9, the “volta”, shows a change in the content of the poem. In the octave, Barrett Browning is conveying her love to be in the present, using terms to declare her love in the now. However, the volta shows a change in tense and within the sestet the poet is referring her love to her past. Here, she is comparing her love to the “old griefs” and her “childhood’s faith”, and that she loves “with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints”.

By using the present and past tenses in the octave and sestet she is declaring her love to be eternal, limitless and without the constraints of time. She refers to her past and present, and in the final line, to her future. The last line “I shall but love thee better after death” refers to her love enduring after death, into her own future and beyond. With there not being a gap between the octave and sestet, and the poem reading as a whole of fourteen lines, the poet is conveying her love to be entire, complete, and unbreakable and given wholly.

The poem is rich with alliteration and imagery and conveys her love to be both deep and eternal. The poem is a declaration of her love for Robert Browning, and with various religious connotations, likens her love to that of her love for God, God’s love for man and her love for Robert Browning as being one of the same. The poem can be read as a vow to Browning, made before God, showing her everlasting and enduring love for him; and the promise found within the poem is encircled by the love of God.

Barrett Browning conveys deep and eternal love through her choice of diction by declaring her love in eight ways; by her reference to her present, past and future and showing her love to be constant throughout her life; her use of alliteration, representing “love”, and assonance, representing “I” and “thee”; her emphasis of meaning through her use of parallelism and the sense of enduring, timeless love through her use of enjambment and her soft, quiet use of the tone and sound of the poem.

The reader is left with a lasting impression of the deep and enduring love Barrett Browning conveys in the poem, and the poem remains on of the most famous love poems in literature.

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The poem 'How Do I Love Thee?' by Elizabeth Browning. (2017, Aug 27). Retrieved from

The poem 'How Do I Love Thee?' by Elizabeth Browning

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