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How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. (Sonnet 43)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. (Sonnet 43)

by

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 Table of Contents

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Grief and Loss

Symbol Analysis

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).

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