Sonnets from the Portuguese

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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What is the tone of Sonnet 43 "How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning?

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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. 

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The tone of a poem is simply what the writer wants the reader to feel when reading the poem. The tone of this poem is love in the greatest sense of the word. Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote forty-four sonnets, all to the man she loved, Robert Browning. She wanted to convey exactly how much she loved him. The relationship between the two was very much talked about. She was several years older than he, and she knew her father would disown her if she married him. They were married in secret and spent most of their time in Italy. In the poem "How Do I Love Thee," Browning writes about the love she feels for him. It is a beautiful love poem. She goes into great detail about how much she does love him.

This is probably one of the most well-known poems ever. It is full of romantic love, and shows us the power of love. The last couple of lines of the poem show us exactly what Elizabeth Barrett Browning was feeling.

"I love thee with the breadth, smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."

Love is the tone of the poem, and we feel the love from the very first line. I think all of us want a love that will inspire us to feel the way this poem makes us feel when we read it.

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The tone of the poem is the mood or feeling that its message conveys. This sonnet is a simply a love poem, expressing how deeply she loves her husband. The tone is intimate, loving, sincere.

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