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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Variety Article: On "How Do I Love Thee" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

It seems a bit odd for me to be touting poetry this month, even if it is National Poetry Month. I don't typically read poetry. It's always seemed a bit out of my reach. My English Lit teacher in college despaired of ever making me understand poetry. Sometimes it goes against the one piece of advice I've always been given as a writer: don't make the reader guess what you mean. But isn't that what poets do? They make us interpret and guess at what they intended? So either I'm thinking too much about it or not thinking enough. I can't decide.
Despite all that, there is one poem that I do love and swoon a bit over. Perhaps it's because I know a bit of the history behind the writer and a little of the love story that inspired it.

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways . . . 
by 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 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.

And it's no surprise to any of you that I'm a romantic at heart. It makes sense that I'd connect with this poem. I don't understand every line of it, but at least I understand the feeling. I can understand that the emotion builds throughout, culminating in the ultimate hope of couples: love after death.

Happy Poetry Month!

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About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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