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 candlelight.
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.
Number XLIII (43)
‘Sonnets from the Portuguese’ 1845
This is one of the best known love poems in the English language.
The collection of forty-four Sonnets were written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) for Robert Browning during their courtship, leading to their marriage in 1846. Her deep love for Robert is eloquently expressed in the Sonnets.
Elizabeth was initially hesitant to publish them as she felt they were too personal but Robert urged her to do so.
Elizabeth became one of the most prominent Victorian poets.
Jubilee Library is fortunate to have part of the personal library of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Rare Books and Special Collections. It was donated by Leonard Lionel Bloomfield who brought the collection at Sothebys a few years before his death in 1916.
Margaret – Rare Books Manager For more information on our Rare Books collection call 01273 294005 or e-mail RareBooks@brighton-hove.gov.uk or stop in at Jubilee Library