How Do I Love Thee
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 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.

ANALYSIS:
OBJECTIVE APPROACH

1. Stanzaic Form
This poem is composed of an octave and a sestet.

2. Metrical Pattern
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ―/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ―/ ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
/ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ―/ ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
/ ᴗ ―/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ―/ ᴗ ―/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
/ᴗ ― / ᴗ ―/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
I love thee with the passion put to use
/ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ―/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
/ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
/ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
/ ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter
I shall but love thee better after death.
/ᴗ ― / ᴗ ― / ᴗ ―/ ᴗ ―/ᴗ ― /
Iambic pentameter

3. Rhyme Scheme
The rhyme scheme in the poem “How Do I Love Thee?” is abbaabba, cdcdcd. As we can see below the last word of each line (in bold) which represent the rhyme scheme:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. a
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height b
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight b
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. a
I love thee to the level of everyday’s a
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. b
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; b
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. a

I love thee with the passion put to use c
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. d
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose c
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath, d
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose, c
I shall but love thee better after death. d

• There are two internal rhymes in this poem. They are showed below (the internal rhyme is in bold):
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height (line 2 stanza 1)
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose, (line 5 stanza 2)
• There are also two alliterations in this poem. They are showed below (the alliteration is in bold):
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose (line 3 stanza 2)
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath (line 4 stanza 2)

4. Figurative Language
There are some figurative languages we found in this poem, such as:

1. Hyperbole
The hyperbole is showed in the fourth line of last stanza (the hyperbole is in bold):
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
The poet shows her love toward a particular person by saying I love thee with the breath. It means she will give everything including her breath, in this case means she is ready to death for him. It also means she cannot live without breath as well as she cannot live without him. This is a hyperbole because showing love to someone usually only showed by giving attention and affection instead of giving life.
It is also showed in the last line of last stanza (the hyperbole is in bold):
I shall but love thee better after death.
The poet stated that her love is unending like what she wrote through the last line in her poem, she will love her special person even after she died. This statement is a hyperbole because usually loving someone is only when we are still alive, not until after we die.

2. Simile
The similes are showed in the seventh and eighth line of first stanza (the similes are in bold):
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
The poet represents her love to her special person using simile. She uses ‘as’ to compare it. She compares her free love as men who strive for right. She also compares her pure love as those men who turn from praise.

3. Imagery
The imageries are showed as below (the imageries are in bold):
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height (line 2 stanza 1)
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. (line 4 stanza 1)
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. (line 6 stanza 1)
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath, (line 4 stanza 2)
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose, (line 5 stanza 2)
The poet depicts the way she love her special person through the measurements of diction depth, breadth, and height. She also describes how she loves him as much as God which she represents as ideal Grace. She uses diction sun and candlelight to represent her love to him is anytime both in day (depicted by sun) and in night (depicted by candlelight). Elizabeth also describes the way she loves him with the diction breath, smiles, and tears of all her life.
SUBJECTIVE APPROACH

These are the analysis of subjective approach of this poem for each line.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
The poet loves her special person through many ways so she would count them.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
The ways she loves him can be measured by the depth, breadth, and height. Breadth is width which represents how far across her love is. Height and depth represent how deep and how high her love toward her special one.
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
These measurements (depth, breadth, and height) which are the physical measurements have a strong relation toward her soul which is the center of body and spirit. This is because she loves him so much.
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
These measurements which represent the way she loves him are the crucial things to show her love until the ends of her life. While the ideal Grace we think refers to the God. Her love is given to him until the ends of her life (she died). And also she loves him as much as she loves God.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
Her love is as important as the most needed things every single day like air, water, and food, that we need them every day (represented by sun) and night (represented by candlelight). It also means that she loves him anytime both in day and night.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
She loves him freely, in this case means sincerely without any feels of forced. It is compared to men strive for Right freely as it is their need in order to gain happiness.
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
Her love is pure and doesn’t need praise or return.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
Her love is passion to overcome herself of her sadness and pain in the past. This passion also exists in children’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,
She loves him with the intensity one feels love during their innocence of youth, which she lost with her innocence, and feels it again for him.
– I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!
She loves him with all her breath and will always share happiness (represented by smile) and sadness (represented by tears) of all her life with him.
– and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Her love for him will not end at the grave, but will continue on eternally even after death.

Overall, this poem describes about the ways Elizabeth loves her husband. That’s why she uses diction how instead of why. It is because she won’t describe about the reason why she loves him since loving someone doesn’t need any reason. The way she loves him can be measured by the depth, breadth, and height. She loves him eternally, until the end of her life even after she died. She loves him anytime, both in day and night. She loves him sincerely and purely without need any return. She loves him with her breath, and always share happiness and sadness in her life with him.

BIOGRAPHY

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an English poet of the Romantic Movement. She was born on 6 March 1806 at Coxhoe Hall, County Durham, England. She was the eldest of 12 children born to Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett and Mary Graham Clarke. Elizabeth never received any formal education but she loved to read. Her first publication was The Battle of Marathon. Browning had grown to be an attractive young woman with large eyes, dark curly hair, a diminutive figure with an easy smile, and charming to all who met her. In 1821 she began to suffer from a nervous disorder that caused headaches, weakness, and fainting spells.
On 12 September 1846, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning were married in St, Marylebone Parish Church. A week later they left for Italy where they spent the remainder of their married life together. On 9 March 1849, the Brownings’ only child, a son named Robert Weidemann Barrett Browning, who was known as Pen, was born.
Her poem “How Do I Love Thee” is now considered one of the great sonnet sequences in English literature. Elizabeth Barrett Browning died in her husband’s arms, on 29 June 1861.

Compiled by:
Hanifa Rahmawati
Andhika Randy Adhitia

REFERENCES

http://www.types-of-poetry.org.uk/english-poetry/02-how-do-i-love-thee-by-elizabeth-barrett-browning.htm
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http://wonderingminstrels.blogspot.com/1999/11/how-do-i-love-thee-elizabeth-barrett.html
http://englishlanguageliterature.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/how-do-i-love-thee-sonnet-43-by-elizabeth-barrett-browning/
http://www.browningsociety.org/ebb.html
http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/152
http://www.notablebiographies.com/Br-Ca/Browning-Elizabeth-Barrett.html
http://www.online-literature.com/elizabeth-browning/