Interpretation of Poem “How Do I Love Thee” Elizabeth Barrett Browning
In the poem, the speaker is proclaiming her unending passion for her beloved. She tells her lover just how deeply her love goes, and she also tells him how she loves him. She loves him with all of her being, and she hopes God will grant her the ability to love him even after she has passed.
Instead of following Shakespeare or any of the other great English sonneteers; Barrett Browning chooses to be Unorthodox.
This links directly to the idea of her love as a spiritual thing, as she reiterates in the next line, with the mention of her soul:“My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight…” (l.3)
Her love reaches beyond her life, beyond Being and Grace, to the end of her life – to her salvation.
The Hand of the Poet, Rizzoli, 1997
“ARTS1030 Introduction to English: Literary Genres” , UNSW, Sydney, 2010, p24.(3)
The Poetry Handbook, John Lennard, OUP, 2005
Wordsworth, W and Taylor Coleridge, S, Lyrical ballads, with other poems : in two volumes, Biggs and Co. Bristol, London : 1800, Preface.
J. L. Austin, How to do things with words, Oxford: Oxford Uni Press (1912)