One of the great love stories of the 20th Century was the courtship and marriage of poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. They exchanged hundreds of letters during their prolonged and opposed courtship. Eventually, they eloped and moved to Italy. Elizabeth’s father disowned his oldest daughter, never to speak to her again. Elizabeth suffered throughout her short life with terrible, mysterious illnesses and was often bedridden. And yet, she persevered and is considered one of the greatest poets of all time. Perhaps Elizabeth’s most famous piece is her love sonnet written to Robert, titled “How Do I Love Thee?”. This beautiful poem has been recited through the ages, dramatized, evoked in cartoons, and set to countless arrangements of music.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a remarkable woman who triumphed through the many trials of her life. She had a gift for expressing with words the things we feel so deeply but struggle to describe. She had the ability to capture that ever-present longing for our love to last not just during this life, but beyond the grave. And that is an eternal truth that resonates with all souls.
Indeed, death does not need to be the end of our relationships with cherished loved ones! There is life after death. And, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that the “same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there [in eternity], only it will be coupled with eternal glory” (D&C 130:2). – MoSop
How Do I Love Thee? – Read by Gwyneth Paltrow
Animated Short for Classical Baby: The Poetry Show
How Do I Love Thee?
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 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.
from Sonnets from the Portuguese, 1845 (published 1850)