how do I love thee?
I can count,
but also need to add,
and first,
must figure out some more
of my best ways,

as a girl,
sometimes quite clumsily–
at others, dancing gracefully–
whether glad or sad,
I could,
in whispers and in shouts,
love thee till the joy
of thy and my
live hearts
did mount–

and while,
in my maturity,
I’ve earned
a lot of clarity,
some natural ways
I loved thee
were unlearned–
for over many years and tears,
they were
quite handily
snuffed out,

So that, as a woman,
I now can work
to raise the ways
for me
to better than ever
feel thy love,
and love thee back,

while I live
my yet remaining days.


I must, in humble awe and gratitude, tip my hat to one basic starting point of inspiration for this poem, “How Do I Love Thee?” (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

I am not especially familiar with that poem in detail, but the beauty of the opening lines and the general rhythm and mood of it live deep within me. I did not consult the text before writing this, my own poem.

But, once I was finished, I could not help look up Browning’s poem, for curiosity’s sake.

I was surprised and delighted to see how much of what is expressed in it resonates with what I have tried to express in my poem here.

I also must acknowledge what a wonderful resource I have found in, from which I have copied out “How Do I Love Thee?” (Sonnet 43), so you may also enjoy this classic poem for yourself. They are a great reference for poetry, and you can sign up to receive a Poem-A-Day in your e-mail. I love getting mine.

I would give you a link instead, so you could enjoy the site but the direct link to this poem is not working right now.

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 – 1861

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.

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