Monday, 25 Oct 2021

Elizabeth Barrett Browning entitled How do I Love Thee?

Analyze the poem in two of the following levels:

A. Lexico-semantic Level

B. Syntactic Level

C. Phonological Level

D. Graphological Level

  • Lexico-semantic level/ analysis of How do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

In terms of grammar, the sentence is normal and correct. In the first line of the poem, the sentence begins with the interrogative word “how”, explaining that she doesn’t know anymore how she can express her emotions and feelings towards her beloved, that’s why she asks “how do I love thee?”, and then it was answered throughout the entire poem wherein she count the ways like trying to remember all the reasons why he love that someone and how to express it in a way that she can truly express how intense her love. Aside from that, the first line introduces the poem all throughout and made the readers think more.

“For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s”

The speaker suggests that her love is encompassing and stretching to the limits. She thinks that she loves her beloved as time passing by. These following lines tells us about the speaker’s love, it seems that this kind of love became stronger as time passes by. She loves her husband intensely that she will still love him after she died. She tends to express her flowing emotions by telling us that she loves him with all her soul. She loves her beloved till to the depth and breadth and height, which means her love for him is unreachable.

“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 this lines, the speaker uses imagery like the sun and candle-light which gives us the images of different kinds of light. Then, the other lines were used by the speaker to express her various ways of expressing her love to her beloved. These following stanzas are grammatically correct, the structure of words is great.

“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.”

In these lines, the speaker says the words I love thee with a love I seemed he lost his saints”. He can’t help but think that claiming she’s going to love someone “better after death,” whether it’s your death or their own, is something of a hyperbole.

  • Phonological level/ analysis of some lines quoted in How do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight”

This lines are found in Elizabeth Browning’s How do I love thee line 2 & 3. The words “height”, and “sight” are example of rhyming words since they are alike in sounds.

“My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.”

In lines three and four, the poet uses assonance, repeating long “e” vowel sounds in words like “reach,” “feeling,” “being,” and “ideal.” This repeated long vowel sound adds a brighter, livelier quality to the poem. It also reminds us of what the speaker calls her beloved which is “thee.” There’s also an internal rhyme in the middle of the sentence in both line 3 & 4, “feeling”, and “being” which makes the line more interesting.

Example of alliteration in the poem:

purely, Praise (Line 8)

passion, put (Line 9)

my, my (Line 10)

lost, love (Line 12)

but, better (Line 14)

Image: Pexels


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