Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How Do I Love Thee?

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 everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
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.
--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This is one of those poems that gets quoted in cartoons all the time. Of course, they just do the first line, and then start counting, but it's still out there in the public consciousness like Beethoven's 5th, the Mona Lisa, etc. One of the things I like about this poem is that the sentences and the lines don't always end in the same places. I've tried my hand at writing poetry, and that is a tough thing to do, and even harder to do well.

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