Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Poems

Analyzing "How do I love thee?..." By Elizabeth Barrett Browning College

William Wordsworth once described poetry as being “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings...”(1). He could not have described Barrett’s Sonnet 43 more succinctly, in spite of the fact that he preceded her by half a century. Barrett wrote 44 sonnets about her love for her fellow contemporary poet and later husband, Robert Browning, a series which she titled “Sonnets from the Portuguese”. Critics’ opinions vary on this matter, but most agree that her choice is a reference to one of her earlier compositions about the love between a young girl and Camoens (2), a Portuguese poet of the 1500’s. Others believe that the title is a private joke between Barrett and Browning, as the latter was fond of calling her his little “Portugee” (3). For purposes of this essay, we shall assume that the sonnet is written in homage to her beloved Browning. In any case, Sonnet 43 comes towards the end of the series, and as such inevitably possesses a climactic appeal when read in context with the other sonnets. This essay will briefly discuss the genre and other technicalities of this particular poem, before analysing it in more detail to determine its impact and effect up on the reader.

As we have already briefly mentioned above, “How do I love...

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