By including references to her feelings of grief, bitterness, and the loss of innocence, the speaker of this poem gives her love a more realistic edge. The love she feels for "thee" is beautiful and intense, but it's also the follow-up to a series of less warm and fuzzy feelings. She's felt disillusionment, loneliness, and anger in the past, and all of these affect the way she feels love in the present.
- Lines 9-10: These are the first lines in which the speaker mentions her past "griefs." To emphasize the difficult nature of the grief the speaker has felt, these lines use a subtle chiasmus of sounds, using an "f" and an "s" sound and then repeating them in the reverse order: "griefs [...] childhood's faith." In both places, it's actually difficult to read the lines clearly, forcing you to over-enunciate and stress this line more than you naturally would.
- Lines 11-12: In these lines, the speaker's loss of her "saints" is counterbalanced by the over-the-top alliteration of four initial "l" sounds and the sibilance of five "s" sounds: "I love thee with a love I seemed to lose / With my lost saints" (11-12).