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"How Do I Love Thee" By Elizabeth Browning. Interprataiton.

1050 words - 4 pages

The first line of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's most well-known poem, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways" (Beaty 811) has been written and quoted by people in love for almost one hundred and fifty years. Although, most people only know the first ten words of the poem, and they often make lists of actions or feelings that support the two phrases. However, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous poem goes beyond simple lists of feelings or actions. She paints a vivid picture through images that pull at the emotions and senses of the reader. Furthermore, this poem is appealing to the readers because it is a basic form of expression that evokes emotions by "compressing language to what is most essential" (Pollick). Using this compression she is able to, in less than one hundred words, describe the physical, physiological and emotional boundaries of true love in this world as well as the boundaries of love after death.Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote this poem to her future husband, Mr. Robert Browning. However, she kept her love for Robert secret because he was disliked by her overbearing and controlling father. Because, Ms. Barrett lived in a time before the telephone, Hallmark cards and email formal courting was essential and often relied on simple and subtle gestures between couples.I had the wonderful experience to have a great-great aunt whose teenage age years were during the turn of the century. Although, she grew up fifty years after Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I believe that courtship rituals of that time were not that different than during Elizabeth's time. On occasion, my Aunt Cleone would describe her courtship with her future husband as simple, innocent and romantic. Sharing poetry or short notes was a large part of this formal courtship.Victorian couples might have only spoken at church or public functions. They would communicate with each other by simple hand gestures, longing glances, hand-written letters and brief visits over brunch or at a dinner party. Moreover, proper lady would never spend time alone with a male without an adult chaperone. Indeed, Ms. Barrett's poem reflects those innocent times through the images she penned.Poetry, no longer as popular as it once was during the Victorian Age, is still the foundation of literature. When studying poetry one will notice that almost all famous poems have three common elements to them, rhythm, rhyme, and imagery. However, these few fundamentals are not what create a memorable poem. A memorable poem needs be something more than a few colorful words that rhyme. It needs to be elusive so that it can not be easily understood or paraphrased. Poems must stand on their own as literary works of art, so that others may interpret them as they wish."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" (Beaty). These three lines of the poem seemingly describe the physical boundaries of a person's soul. The...

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