‘How Do I Love Thee?’ (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

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 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.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Photo: De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning  (1806-1861) was a celebrated English poet who wrote in the Romantic period. Having inspired poets such as Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe, she retains an enormous influence on Romantic poetry. How Do I Love Thee is the 43rd sonnet in a collection of love sonnets titled Sonnets from the Portuguese, which Browning published to critical acclaim in 1850.