The second way she shows her love is in the lines 5 and 6: “I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and by candle-light”. Here, Barrett Browning is declaring her love as constant through time, both by day and by night. Her reference to sun and candle-light refers to her life withindoors. We can imagine Barrett Browning marking the passage of time by the movement of sunlight across her room, or by the warmth of candle-light at night and evening.
It is by the consistence of the passing of time which she experienced each day that she declares her love to be as constant, as timeless and as unchanging as the “level of every day”. Barrett Browning instils a sense of peace and stillness in these lines, and through her choice of diction she conveys a comforting love, filled with quiet reverence and consideration. The third way she shows her love is in line 7: “I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;” In this line, Barrett Browning is showing that she loves freely, without constraint, with her free and unrestrained will.
Through the mention of men striving for Right, she is comparing her love as dedicated and filled with the same fervour as man’s endeavour for freedom. Being a Liberal, Barrett Browning had sympathies for the rights of man, the seeking of fraternity, equality and liberty shown during the French Revolution which inspired most of the Romantic poets. The choice of words also reflects her growing relationship with Robert Browning who was also a Liberal, and her words would have held as significant meaning to him as they had for her.
Barrett Browning may also have seen her marriage to her husband as the key to her own freedom and liberty. Her life with him would have provided independence from her dominant, repressive and over bearing father. The fourth way her love is declared is in line 8: “I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. ” Barrett Browning is showing her love to be pure and without lust. She is herself virginal and chastely, and her love for Robert Browning is as pure as her love of God. By referencing “Praise”, Browning is comparing her love to be the same as religious worship, unsullied, untainted, innocent and virtuous.
By this comparison, she is declaring her religious piety, but this line also reflects the innocence of Barrett Browning’s character. She is inexperienced in the act of love between man and woman, but she knows the passion of love for God. Therefore, this line shows her love for Robert Browning to be as pure and as praiseworthy as her love of God. The fifth way she illustrates her love is through the lines 9 and 10: “I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
” As before, Barrett Browning is declaring her love to be as strong as the passion of faith and with the same innocence as childhood religious piety. Her “old griefs” may well reflect the loss of her mother and the death of her brothers, which affected her deeply. She shows her love to have the same passion as the grief she felt at their deaths – a sorrowing passion, but one of great strength. This is the same degree of passion she feels for Robert Browning, the same depth of emotion and feeling.
She is aware of mortality and still feels the loss of her “old griefs” and she may fear the loss of her new love with Robert Browning, being conscious of the inevitability of death, so gives of herself completely to him. As in the previous lines, in lines 11 and 12, Barrett Browning shows her love to be as strong as the love she felt for her “lost saints”- for her mother and brothers. Lines 11 and 12 are an extension of the thought she expresses in lines 9 and 10, but she expresses her loss as a child as being one of innocence, the childhood belief that she lost all with the death of her mother and siblings.
With the words “I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints” she is expressing that she had “seemed to lose”, but has now found love again with her love for her husband to be. What is more, she may have lost a part of herself, and certainly that innocent love that was marred by the death of her family members, but which she has re-found again. She may well feel whole once more and have also rediscovered her “childhood faith” by her depth of love for Robert Browning. The line “I love thee with the breath, Smiles tears, of all my life!
” shows that she loves with all of her emotions, all of her experience and all of her life. By these words she may be expressing her love by measuring it against her whole being, all the sorrow, joy and pain, all of the sickness and loss she has felt. She loves with all of herself, all that has gone before, all of her life balanced against the love she feels. Finally, with the last line, which begins after the Caesura in line 13: “-and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. ” she shows she loves beyond life and into death.
She will love eternally and “if God choose”, she will love him better after death – when life cannot alter her love, when her love resounds in eternal peace. This line is also reminiscent of the marriage vows taken by her before God. Barrett Browning uses a lot of religious references in the diction she chooses to express her love. Among these are references to the “depth and breadth and height” as discussed previously, “soul”, “ends of Being” and “Grace”, “Praise”, “faith”, “lost saints” and “God”.
Her poem is a declaration of her love and she likens her love of Robert Browning to her love of God and God’s love of man. Her other choices of diction show the use of alliteration of the phoneme sound /l/. This is shown in her use of “Love”, Let”, “soul”, “feeling”, “ideal”, “level, “candle-light”, “freely”, “purely”, “old”, “childhood’s”, “lose”, “lost”, “Smiles”, “all”, “life” and “shall”. Her use of this alliteration conveys the sense of “love” declared within the poem. The /l/ phoneme sound is present in each line, not least in the word “Love”, and it is used repeatedly throughout the poem.
The poet also choices to use a great deal of assonance, especially of the phoneme sound /i:/, as in “thee” “feeling”, “ideal”, “freely”, “purely”, “griefs”, “Being”, “every” and “seemed”. As well as this, assonance can be found of the /aI/ phoneme sound. This can be found in her choice of “I”, “my”, “height”, “sight”, “ideal”, “quiet”, “by”, “”light”, “Right”, “childhood’s”, “Smiles” and “life”. Her decision to use the assonance of /aI/ and /i:/ reflect the words “I” and “thee” used throughout the poem and reiterates that the poem is about the depth of enduring love felt by the poet (I) for Robert Browning (thee).