Feb 15 • 5M

Sonnet 43: "How Do I Love Thee?"

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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The courtship, love, and marriage of Robert and Elizabeth Browning form one of the most heart-warming stories of the Victorian literary age. She and her siblings had been shut out of most dealings with the world by a selfish and tyrannical father. When she met Robert Browning, a passionate soul if there ever was one, and morally as upright and strong as an oak, it was as if the sun had broken in upon a life of constant twilight. She left her father, though she was never in good health — and that’s an understatement. She and Robert went on to enjoy a marriage of mutual artistic inspiration and love.

“Robert Browning Visits Elizabeth Barrett,” Herbert Gustave Carmichael Schmalz. Public Domain.

In those days, every American or Englishman who aspired to the heights of art went to Italy, and people went there also for the dry air and the healthy climate — so long as you kept clear of the marshlands and their malaria. The Brownings went to Italy too, and there they met and became close …

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