12 May 2016

Poetry Thursday - Sonnet 43 "from the Portuguese"

Mr and Mrs Robert Browning

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 candle-light. 
I love thee freely, as men strive for right; 
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. 
I love thee with the 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.

Elizabeth Barratt Browning

Elizabeth (1806-61) was already a famous poet when she met Robert Browning. The poem was written early in their relationship, and published in 1850; they had married in 1846 and gone to live in Italy. She "was initially hesitant to publish the poems, believing they were too personal. However, her husband insisted they were the best sequence of English-language sonnets since Shakespeare's time and urged her to publish them. To offer the couple some privacy, she decided to publish them as if they were translations of foreign sonnets. She initially planned to title the collection Sonnets from the Bosnian, but Robert proposed that she claim their source was Portuguese, probably because of her admiration for Camões and Robert's nickname for her: "my little Portuguese". " (Wikipedia)


Kathleen Loomis said...

Oh, I'm so glad she didn't call it Sonnets from the Bosnian. What a difference a word makes!

Olga Norris said...

I love this poem, and especially 'I love thee to the level of every day's Most quiet need'.