Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43 – Testament to True Love

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A Testament to True Love

Elizabeth Barret Browning wrote "Sonnet 43" a tale of love that the author had felt for one person in the world, and uses many great elements to bring together the sonnet. It talks about the questions we ask ourselves about much we love someone, and items it can be compared too. Browning does an excellent job at conveying this message in a respectful and very mature manner; it is complex poem at times making it hard to understand. If you have the knowledge or background information on what to look for, it becomes quite simple. Sonnet 43 tells a story of a deep love for another person, while using literary elements and figurative language to enhance the piece.

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"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways" (Browning 1), is the opening line to Sonnet 43, and starts the entire plot of the poem. It tells the story of a love that will begin to blossom at a young age, grows into a mature love, and that the person eventually dies with. Love that strong should be remembered, and written down in the ways that Browning does successfully. The message she wishes to give I believe is that you can never understand someone else’s love, and that quite possible you can hardly understand your own most days. Which is why the question is asked, and manages to even answer the question successfully in the fourteen line poem. By first using different forms of literary elements to complete the poem.

The first elements people can usually tell from the beginning are the mood and tone the author is setting for the story. Browning opens with a questioning statement, which sets a questioning tone and a mysterious mood for the audience, since they are probably wondering where this is going at the time. Going deeper in though with statements such as, “I love thee to the level of every day’s” (Browning 5), which sets the mood of love is in the air. With a tone of caring for the person is talking about, which continues throughout the rest. One item to keep in mind about this poem is the fact it is telling a love story, and it is apparent in two specific lines of the poems. The first being, “In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith” (Browning 9), and in, “I shall but love thee better after death” (Browning 14). Both lines stating that as their time passes nothing can end the love, since it is boundless on Earth. The last part of a successful piece of poetry is the figurative language the writer chooses to help enhance her message.

Figurative language is a way of using different ways of rhyme, rhythm, and others ways for an author to enhance their writing. For one thing, she takes the point of view of first person to allow for more intimacy, and gives the reader a more personal feeling. Another one of the methods Browning used was alliteration, in the line, “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height” as well in “purely, praise”. It was written in the 1800s, so it is no wonder her diction is mainly consisting of old English words, such as thee or still fighting for “Right”. Throughout the poem the phrase, “I love thee” is the anaphora, or the repeated phrase included in the poem. Simile is used as well, in the lines in which she is comparing her love that she feels. One of the last notable methods is a metaphor, which is almost the entire a poem a metaphor of the love this person feels for another person. Using different lines such as, “My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace” (Browning), which is just a complex way of explaining her love for another person.

In the end, this poem is a testament to the love someone else felt for another person, but also what others could feel. That the love we as humans feel could be more than we could ever expect, and in all reality maybe we never want to experience that love. Yet, some people like Browning were able to and even more brilliantly write about it in a successful manner. She brought a triumphant message of love, and used literary elements and figurative language to enhance it even more so than expected.

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