How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning – 1806-1861
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.
This poem moves me deeply. There is such passion in it, such subtlety, such profound awareness of the exponential power of love. “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height/ My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight.” I love the rhythm of these words and the magnitude they suggest of love’s possibilities. Just how deep and wide and high can one’s soul reach when feeling out of sight?
And just how intimate and sweet and pure is the line, “I love thee to the level of every day’s/ Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.” To love someone day and night “to the level of every day’s most quiet need.” What might be every day’s most quiet need? Perhaps to draw life-sustaining breath?
And to love freely. purely, passionately, devotedly, and constantly. Now and after death.
That is love at its sweetest and most profound.
Here’s to a celebration of love in all of its forms: romantic, plutonic, familial, and agape.
All the world needs now is love, sweet love.
2 Comments Add yours
AMEN ! Thank you Len .
You are welcome!