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ANALYSIS OF THE POETRY “HOW DO I LOVE THEE? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS…”

27 Jun

INTRODUCTORY

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. One of the famous love poems in the English language is “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” The love that is appeared in this poem is a complex. This poem explains how does the love work while you’re in it? What kinds of love are there? How and when do they happen? How do you love someone in different ways with the contrast way? Those are the reasons why this poem is good. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” will answer them.

ANALYSIS

The speaker

The speaker is a woman who has a very complex internal emotional landscape. She loves someone intensely and wholly, but she also has “old griefs” – things she’s bitter about and lost saints, she’s lost her faith in and feels disappointed about. She also talks about her “childhood’s faith” as though it was in the far distant past, which suggests that this is a mature and older speaker.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

  • The speaker uses “thee” which has a certain formality over it. So, it means “no gender is implied.”The speaker does not use gender makers such as him, her, she, or he which makes it possible for the poem to be read to both of gender, a man or a woman.
  • This poem starts with a rhetorical question. The speaker makes the question that’s going to control the entire poem: how does she love “thee.” The speaker wants to mention about how she loves her beloved.
  • In “Let me count the ways” : the speaker shows to count the ways she loves him at all of the poem. “Count” she would need to count them. “Count” the ways you loves someone does like “a bit, well, calculating” the speaker’s initial decision to count types of love is intriguing. I agree with a quote from shmoop.com, this poem look more interesting to read with a unique choice title of the poem. Who wants to count how you love your beloved?
  • In another link that I got from englishlanguageliterature.com says that, “The poem starts by the poet asking a rhetorical question: How do I love thee? With poet counting the ways how she loves thee instead of trying to explain how she loves thee. She does so because she can not possible explain her love, so she starts with listing some, perhaps the most passionate ways of her love towards thee.” I think the word “passionate” is suitable for showing passion the best, the strong feeling to her beloved. It is really clear that the speaker gives the “main message” in this poem is describing her strong love to her man.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

  • The speaker explains her love using a spatial metaphor. She expresses that her love extends to the “depth” “breadth” and “height” that her soul can reach. She uses a three-dimensionalto know the container of her soul.
    • Breadth is width, a measurement of how far across her love is. Height and depth represent how far down (deep) and how far up (high) her love is, in relation to her position in the universe.
    • Quote from englishlanguageliterature.com says, “Using normal measurements for something that cannot be measured. This is spatial metaphor. In this way she is trying to illustrate she loves every single piece of him that there is nothing that she would change about him.” I agree that she is really love her beloved using “depth” “breadth” and “height” for describing. How she loves her beloved in all possible directions. Explaining that there is not one direction in which she does not have the feeling of love. Something coolest keyword to describe what she will says on the next poem line.
    • This spatial love is the first of the ways of loving that speaker lists.

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

  • These measurements, though physical are also spiritual, as they pertain to her soul, which is body and spirit infused.
  • In the shmoop.com says, “As she is trying to feel the full extent of her soul, she realizes that she loves “thee” in every part of it – to the “depth and breadth and height” that it reaches”
  • In the englishlanguageliterature.com says, “This is an illustration of how much she trusts him. Even though she cannot see the ending of how this love will end, she trusts him and is willing to reach out in darkness, not knowing what’s coming for her.
  • I agree at the first link because this line poem is related with line two. This line describe clearly what she can reach ”depth and breadth and height” in her soul for her beloved. But in the second line, it looks perfect reason. But it does not relate to anything on the line of the poem.

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

  • In the shmoop.com says, “When the speaker is trying to figure out (“feeling”) how far her soul (her “Being”) extends in the world, she realizes that her love for the beloved extends just as far (that’s all the “depth and breadth and height” stuff in line 3). I agree that her love is natural what she feels and gives to her beloved.
  • I think the word “Grace” tend to a name of the “church” we had known that “church” is holy and white. She describes that her love is very white, there is no black on her love. It relates to the “for the ends of Being” which her love is really big in three-dimensional “depth and breadth and height.”

I love thee to the level of everyday’s

  • This is a next way to love her beloved. The key is “to the level of everyday’s” This line becomes more grounded and down to earth. Even though her love is passionate “depth and breadth and height”, she also loves her beloved in regular “everyday’s” or day-to-day way.
  • Her love is on the same level as our most basic needs–air, water, food, shelter, kinship and love–that need our attention day and night.
  • In the shmoop.com explains,“even though it is not directly described, we get sense of everyday domestic living here – the reality of wanting to be with someone all the time in a low-stakes kind of way. This is a “married-and-hanging-out-watching-TV-on-the-couch-each-night” kind love, instead of a “Romeo-and-Juliet-are-going-to-die-tomorrow” kind.” It means that she wants always to the next her beloved. They get married and do everything together until they die.
  • This “everday’s” is the second way of loving that the the speaker lists.

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

  • This statement above is a continuing word from “everydays.” The shmoop.com says, “It is important, however, that this does not mean the love is any less significant. The everyday “need” for love may be “quite,” but it is definitely there.” The speaker explains that she needs him even though there is nothing special happening. She just needs for her life, her every day. Without this man, it is not the same.
  • By shmoop.com: “The speaker also completes the description of everyday love with two images of light: “by sun and candle light.” Basically, this is just a way of saying “in the day and at night.”
  • In another sources, englishlanguageliterature.com says, “the sun and candle light while talking about her love. This line is one of the only lines where she is using concrete imagery. She is using the image of light being constant and abstract saying that her love will forever and go on but with a sense of mystery. The sun is also a very well know image for being strong, powerful, and good.”
  • I think the most that the sun is something human beings cannot live without and the speaker is illustrating her love. She tries to say that she cannot live without him. She looking at him “everyday” is lighten her day. The “sun” tries to light at day and the “candle-light” providing the light at night.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

  • “I love thee freely” it sounds like pretty good ways to love, there is no a force to love. She loves him of her own free will, and not out of obligation. This is the kind of love that is freely given without any coercion by guilt or force or the threat of force.
  • The speaker uses a metaphor “as men strive for Right.” The speaker is implying that “men strive for Right” in a “free” way. Morally, someone will choose one that be good for her or him. The speaker uses “men strive for Right” to be a choice, people try to do the right think because they think they ought to. She feels she has to do this, “freely” is something “right” for her.
  • The meaning of “freely” In the englishlanguageliterature.com is she loves him without expecting anything back. Also she is willing to fight for him.
  • “freely” is the third way of loving that the speaker lists.

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

  • “I love thee purely” has the same meaning with “I love thee freely” it is not impure. It is good way to love someone.
  • In the shmoop.com says, ”That is, her love is pure in the way that being modest and refusing everyone else’s admiration is pure.”
  • In the shmoop.com says, “Perhaps the speaker is also implying that she’s not proclaiming her love in order to be applauded by her readers. She is not seeking praise for writing a great poem about love; she loves without wanting any reward or commendation.
  • I agree I also think as shmoop.com that “purely” there is no distrust and no judgment for her love. And “Praise” is “reward”. Try to connect this, what will you get after you are being a greater writer of the poet? You will get a reward, right? So, she predicted that she did not make this poem with a praise but it came from her deep heart without exception.
  • “Purely” is the fourth way of loving that she speaker lists.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

  • In the shmoop.com says, “old grief are think of an incident in your past that you still feel really angry about. Consider the intensity of your feelings when you think about this incident – you know, the sort of thing that absolutely has you gnashing your teeth and spitting and swearing and absolutely seething with bitter fury.”
  • Old grief is something a bad event in the past. Now imagine all “passion” and intensity of bitter feeling and convert it into “love” it is like the speaker wants to say “I love you with all the energy I used to spend being bitter about stuff in my past”, as quoted shmoop.com.
  • The meaning “childhood’s faith” based on shmoop.com, that you believed in stuff when you were a kid. Your mom’s ability to fix anything you broke like Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus, and your dad’s ability to answer any question, and the way you believed that adults mostly knew they were doing and everybody followed the rules. That’s your “childhood’s faith.”
  • I think that the speaker love her beloved with “passion” or “love” although he has a bitter stuff in the past. And how she loves him? With “childhood’s faith” everything that her beloved needs her helps, she always help with a huge patient which is innocent relationship and can be naïve sometimes.
  • “old grief” is way of loving is number five, and the “childhood’s faith” way is number six.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,

  • The speaker’s love for “thee” is she had for her childhood heroes and other people she admired. Either she has lost these people because they died, or she’s been disillusioned about them.
  • In shmoop.com says, “lost saints are not misplaced Catholic statues. Instead, they are the people you used to believe in that you do not have faith anymore. You know, heroes who let you down, whether they are famous people (Roger Clemens? Britney Spears?) or just friend or family members who you once had a really high opinion of and now, well, they seem merely human.”
  • Lost saints is talking about a faith for her love. Although she is disillusioned with her beloved, she still loves intensively. Whatever her beloved to do, she still holds a faith. She also loves him with her breath. Breath refers to “life” because we can stay alive with a breath, right?
  • “Breath” the ways number eight of loving described in the poem.

Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,

  • In shmoop.com says, “She loves him with every smile that crosses her face – her happiness is always an expression of loving him, even when she is smiling about something else.
  • But it is not just her happy moments that go into loving him; it is the sad ones, too (the “tears”) and even the regular, unemotional moments – the continuous “breath” of life. Even breathing in and out seems to be way of loving in this poem.”
  • In short, when loving her beloved, she feels everything like smile or tears, happiness or sadness. She has a nice moment with her beloved and she also has a sadness moment.
  • “Smiles” and “tears” are ways number nine and ten of loving described in the poem.

– and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

  • The shmoop.com tells, “If God lets her, she is going to love her beloved even more intensely after death. Even in death, this speaker is going to find a new way of loving.”
  • I think it is clear that the poem is hyperbole. So, she explains “afterlife” as the way loving to her beloved after she died. She even find a new style to love him,it is called immortality.
  • In another word, her love for him will not end at the grave but God willing, will continue on eternally.
  • “Afterlife” way of loving number eleven.

CONCLUSION

In short, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” explains how the speaker love her beloved. The speaker tells us many things in this poem clearly. The speaker confesses how big her love is and tells about her sincere love. One of the passage is the kind of love described in this passage almost sounds more like admiration and esteem like loving someone to the greatest “height” that your soul can go. So, we had known several reason why this poem became famous.

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