Friday, February 15, 2013

365 Poems: How do I love thee?

Day 46

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I suppose I should have posted this one Thursday, but since I know lots of people who are celebrating 'Valentine's weekend,' I shall celebrate 'the day after Valentine's.'

Here's the most romantic poem I know. It's also one of the first grown-up poems I ever read. My mom had a little volume of Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and even before I knew anything about poems or poetry -- to say nothing of love! -- this was my favorite.

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

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.

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