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Elizabeth Browning Sonnet 43 Analysis-Free Essay On Favorite Love Poems

Updated on December 14, 2010

Elizabeth Browning Sonnet 43 Analysis - A free essay about her best love poem

Elizabeth Browning Sonnet 43 Analysis

This sonnet analysis of the famous 'How Do I Love Thee' poem explores mainly the artful way in which Elizabeth Browning blends the subtlety of poetic technique and spirituality with the more unbridled passion of romantic love, for this sonnet 43 is one of the most famous love poems of all time. Her pretty little sonnet belies the strength of it's poetic accomplishments in combining the two so seamlessly as a love poem combining romantic love with love of God.

Any poetry analysis of Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning must explore the delicate and seductive theme of romantic poetry for this one of the most loved love sonnets in the world and was written partly to express the poet's profound love for the husband, Robert Browning, who rescued her from her tyrant of a father. Sonnet 43 also expresses Elizabeth's deep spiritual love for God and her desire that they will both cross the threshold of heaven together.

Elizabeth's poetic techniques have been carefully employed. She has chosen to express her love in sonnet form. Sonnets usually have fourteen lines and the iambic pentameter rhyme scheme. They are almost always written about the theme of romantic love, similar to a love song. Sonnet 43 is a good example of how poets such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, have to employ discipline in constricting their ideas by a set structure.

In the opening eight lines of this Petrarchan sonnet, Portuguese sonnet 43 (the octave) the poet presents the theme of love and the degree of the fundamental depth of love felt by Elizabeth for Robert Browning, her sweetheart and husband. She likens her deep feelings to religious,spiritual, emotional and even political aspiration and goes on to employ repetition, the metaphor of Christian religious faith and a musical metrical and rhyme scheme to develop and convey her ideas beautifully. She addresses her sweetheart with simplicity, charm and a refreshing innocence:

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

my soul can reach"

is deceptively simple and will be repeated many times in different ways - the poet must express wild and free feelings in a very restricted sonnet form, she will use repetition often to help her fit in with the stresses and unstresses of the sonnet pattern. The iambic metre dictates strict adherence. Moving on, the word 'freely' not only evokes ideas of freedom in love, but also in the egalitarian principles of french politics, and also a reference to her own lack of it in a prison-like home. Freedom could also apply to feminist principles, a delicate issue in a love poem.

The last six lines:

"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."

compare the feelings she has at the moment to those emotions of love she experienced as a girl. These lines are particularly beautiful and lyrical as Elizabeth Browning skilfully employs the poetic technique of undulating stresses and pauses. This gives Sonnet 43 the atmosphere of a love song. The subtle cadences appear as a lightly conversational melody. The mono-syllabic nouns however in her choice of language, add a beat of authority.She juxtaposes romantic love with religious love, as she expresses her feelings in terms of adoration and devotion. She uses the symbolism and imagery of the heights of heaven to express the sheer dimensions of the romantic love she feels. She also hints that she would like it to be as infinite as the eternal love of God.Concluding the poem, she hopes that she will go on to love her husband even more in the future if God permits. If not, then there is always Heaven! Hopefully, they will cross the threshold together. Elizabeth Browning's Sonnet 43 analysis could go on for ever in terms of poetry criticism - there is so much there for love poem enthusiast and poetry expert alike to enjoy.

What Do You Think Of Elizabeth Brownings Sonnet 43? Is It Her Best Love Poem?

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    • thevoice profile image


      8 years ago from carthage ill

      poetry of beauty in words love the sound touch feel of a soft voice Great hub thanks


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