I read this poem in the 3rd grade soon after reading Romeo and Juliet. Unlike most girls that age or even older than that ,I sort of thought Romeo and Juliet were both kind of stupid and actually deserved to die. ( Yes .. I was a very cynical 3rd grader , but getting picked on didnt bring the rainbows and sparkles out of me ) After reading this, it restored my faith in humanity and love in general. So I decided to share it just in case there is another cynical 3rd grader out there who doesnt have a copy of this poem in her school library.
Just for those who dont know Elizabeth Barret Browning and her husband Robert Browning have one of the most famous courtships in literature.God knows literary geeks would try to out -do each other when in the poetry department. I suggest EVERYONE who can even spell the word love to read some of their exchanges. It will put things in proper perspective.
Below is my most loved poem of .. love
Cheers and may the “ paws” be with you
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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 candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a 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.
Her 1844 Poems made her one of the most popular writers in the land at the time and inspired Robert Browning to write to her, telling her how much he loved her poems. Kenyon arranged for Robert Browning to meet Elizabeth in May 1845, and so began one of the most famous courtships in literature. Elizabeth had produced a large amount of work and had been writing long before Robert Browning had. However, he had a great influence on her writing, as did she on his: two of Barrett’s most famous pieces were produced after she met Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese and Aurora Leigh. Robert’s Men and Women is a product of that time. Some critics, however, point to him as an undermining influence: “Until her relationship with Robert Browning began in 1845, Barrett’s willingness to engage in public discourse about social issues and about aesthetic issues in poetry, which had been so strong in her youth, gradually diminished, as did her physical health. As an intellectual presence and a physical being, she was becoming a shadow of herself”.
“Portuguese” was a pet name her husband used. Sonnets from the Portuguese also refers to the series of sonnets of the 16th-century Portuguese poet Luís de Camões; in all these poems she used rhyme schemes typical of the Portuguese sonnets. The verse-novel Aurora Leigh, her most ambitious and perhaps the most popular of her longer poems, appeared in 1856. It is the story of a woman writer making her way in life, balancing work and love. The writings depicted in this novel are based on similar, personal experiences that Elizabeth suffered through herself. The North American Review praised Elizabeth’s poem in these words: “Mrs. Browning’s poems are, in all respects, the utterance of a woman—of a woman of great learning, rich experience, and powerful genius, uniting to her woman’s nature the strength which is sometimes thought peculiar to a man.”
Courtship and marriage to Robert Browning
The courtship and marriage between Robert Browning and Elizabeth were carried out secretly. Six years his elder and an invalid, she could not believe that the vigorous and worldly Robert Browning really loved her as much as he professed to. After a private marriage at St. Marylebone Parish Church, Browning imitated his hero Shelley by spiriting his beloved off to Italy in August 1846, which became her home almost continuously until her death. Elizabeth’s loyal nurse, Wilson, who witnessed the marriage, accompanied the couple to Italy.
Mr. Barrett disinherited Elizabeth, as he did each of his children who married. As Elizabeth had some money of her own, the couple were reasonably comfortable in Italy, and their relationship together was harmonious. The Brownings were well respected in Italy, and even famous. Elizabeth grew stronger and in 1849, at the age of 43, she gave birth to a son, Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning, whom they called Pen. Their son later married but had no legitimate children, so there are apparently no direct descendants of the two famous poets.
“Several Browning critics have suggested that the poet decided that he was an “objective poet” and then sought out a “subjective poet” in the hope that dialogue with her would enable him to be more successful.”
At her husband’s insistence, the second edition of Elizabeth’s Poems included her love sonnets; as a result, her popularity increased (as well as critical regard), and her position was confirmed. In 1850, upon the occasion of the death of William Wordsworth, her name was proposed for Poet Laureate, but the position went to Tennyson.