Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s, “How Do I Love Thee”

My favorite line in the poem is, “I love thee to the level of everyday’s most quiet needs.” How many quiet needs do we have? Those needs are not spoken in words between two people who are married, they are understood.

About passion she says, “I love thee with the passion put to use in my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.” I hadn’t realized grief and faith have passion. A person of faith has passion, and grief indicates deep loss.

Next we have the statement, “I love thee purely, as men turn from praise.” To concentrate on someone, we need to practice breathing in and out. It helps us remain in the moment with a person, no matter what is happening.

My favorite word in the poem is smiles. It remains almost Hallmark card-ish. We don’t expect it in such a serious sonnet. It reminds us there is something light about love, playful even.

And where is feeling in all this? Out of sight. Love is about being and grace. It is a kind of grace from outside us, that helps us survive.

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