Elizabeth Barratt Browning wrote "How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways" as part of a series of poems entitled Sonnets from the Portuguese. This misleading title was intended to retain her privacy after having met and married Robert Browning. She published them after their marriage and because of his considerable persuasion (she had only ever intended them to be for his viewing, especially as they expose her feelings during their courtship).
In poetry, the tone is identified as that element which reveals the emotion. Tone can be blissful, passionate, sad, enduring, satirical, ironic, bitter, calm, humorous—the list is endless.
The title of this poem sets the tone and the reader can immediately relate to the romantic notion of sincere love. Repeating the title in the opening lines relaxes the reader who can enjoy the visual picture created by the flow which stems from this positive and uplifting tone. The rhetorical question first posed also adds a reflective element to the tone of the poem, allowing the reader to pause for thought and consider the question, thus involving him or herself in all the possible answers.
The reader is in no doubt about how the narrator feels about the man she loves, in this instance, Robert Browning. It is also obvious that this is an enduring love that will improve with time and, in fact, "if God choose," it will even outlast death when she will "love thee better." The fact that she is so certain also speaks to the reciprocal love she receives. The tone and diction clearly indicate that he loves her as much—such is her confidence.