专业： 英诗赏析--期末小论文 Title：How Do I Love Thee? 刘丙玲 学号： G11114079 外语学院英语系11级 英语
How Do I Love Thee
Elizabeth Barrett 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 everyday’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.
深邃、宽广、和高远；爱，随未现于视野 她却于存在的边际和永恒的恩典。 我爱你，到每一天所需的
我自由地爱你，像男子们为正义而奋争； 我纯粹地爱你，像他们在赞美前低头。 我爱你，以我满腔热情，就像往日的辛酸； 我爱你，以我童年的信仰。 我爱你，如同那随着逝去的圣者
而消逝的那种爱，——我爱你以我一生的 呼吸，微笑和泪水！－－如果上帝愿意 即使死去，我还要更加爱你！
How Do I Love Thee is one of the 44 poems of Sonnets from the Portuguese that Elizabeth Browning wrote to express her love for her husband and was regarded as the best one. Before I get to the content of the poem, I want to say something about the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the poem’s background. Elizabeth Browning grew up in the west of England and was largely educated at home by a tutor. While saddling a pony when she was 15, she injured her spine and cannot stand. Despite her ailments, her education continued to flourish. In 1844 Elizabeth produced a collection entitled simply Poems. It was Poems that won her some critical recognition and inspired Robert Browning to write to her, telling her how much he loved her poems. Next year, Elizabeth had been 39 years old, six years older than Robert Browning and after they met, they fell in love with each other, which opened a new chapter of her misery life. Love conquered death and saved a life who had given up herself from the shadow of the death and it was Robert Browning’s love for Elizabeth Barrett that made her stand again miraculously. Later, because Elizabeth’s father disapproved their engagement, they still married and fled to Florence, Italy. Sonnets from the Portuguese was a valuable gift Elizabeth sent to Robert where she wrote her primary doubts because of her age and her invalid, the fear of struggling against family, the sweet with lover and the joy of ultimate victory. It was said that the 44 poems was written before their marriage and until they married and lasted for a long time, and then Mrs. Browning put it into Robert’s pocket quietly and told her husband that if he did not like it, he can burn it. After Robert Browning read it, he said he dare not personally hide the most beautiful sonnets since Shakespeare and then it can be published. It was their happiness and love that propelled these poems’ birth.
The poem strictly abides by the characteristics of sonnets, and is in iambic pentameter( with 10 syllables, five pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables in every line )and the rhyme is abbaabbacdcd. The poems starts with the question, “How do I love thee?” and proceeds to count the ways. Altogether she professed 8 ways that she loves her beloved. The first way that
she loves her lover “to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach.” The seventh way is that “I love thee with the breath, /Smiles, tears, of all my life!” This describes the fact that she believes there are no limits to what the human soul and heart can feel. In the poem she uses such words as depth and breath and height, life and death, and night and day( sun and candlelight) to show the enormity and vastness of love.
Through the use of metaphors, she compares her depth of love for her lover to such things as a soldier fighting for freedom: “I love thee freely, as men strive for Right/I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.” Her “passion put to use/In my old griefs” refers to the depths of her former despair. The love that “I seemed to lose With my lost saints” refers to the lost loves of her mother and her brother. The poem ends with the declaration that time and death will not diminish her love for Robert because “if God choose,I shall but love thee better after death.” Except metaphors, anaphora can be the dominate figure of speech: the use of I love thee in eight lines and I shall but love thee in the final line. This repetition builds rhythm and reinforces the theme. Mrs. Browning also uses the alliteration as follows: thee, the in line one, two, five, nine, twelve; soul, sight in line three; love, level in line five; purely, Praise in line eight, etc. In How Do I Love Thee, climax also is an very important rhetorical device. The poem uses I Love Thee eight times and we can see: the first “I Love Thee” to “my soul can reach” is about the breadth and depth love the poet’s love and the second “I love thee to the level of everyday’s” is about the necessity of love, which is tantamount to the fundamental needs of basic life, such as water, air, sleep and so on. And such necessity is like the man’s instinct for living. In the third “I love thee” “as man strive for Right”, the poet compares love with the free right and points that love cannot be deprived. The fourth told us the sincerity and purity of her love and the fifth claimed the passion and loyalty of her love; the seventh presented that the poet loved her lover with her life and from the last, we can find the poet’s love had been raised to a higher level: death cannot stop love and on the contrary, death deepened love and was vanquished by love ultimately.
From the poem, what we can see is Elizabeth’s pursuit of love directly and bravely. And her love for her lover is so intensive and eternal, which implies us that though the end of life is death, human’s affection will not end when the life ends.