In the first line of "How Do I Love Thee?" the poet poses a question, to which there might be a great many answers. Several of these possible answers are given during the course of the sonnet, but they are all of the same type. The type of answer and the tone of the poem are both established over the second and third lines. Browning's expression of her love is pure, joyful, and ecstatic. The word "ecstatic" comes from the Greek expression for "out of the body," and this is just the impression created by the poet's hyperbolic expressions of devotion that has no end—physical or temporal. This is not carnal desire, or even romance, but something more spiritual and rarefied, which extends "to the ends of being and ideal grace."
This ecstatic tone creates a mood of elation in the poem, as the poet elaborates on the depth and purity of her love. The way in which her feelings transcend ordinary romance is emphasized particularly at the end of the sestet, where the sonnet's traditional "turn" becomes an intensification of emotion. Here, the references to the saints, to God, and to a love that survives death create a sense of the transcendent power of love to overcome any conceivable opposition.