5 Breathtaking Elizabeth Barrett Browning Love Poems

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an amazing poet. Here are some of her most famous—and some of my personal favorite poems that I’d like to share with you.

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Born on March 6, 1806, Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a famous English poet born into a rich family. She started writing poems at a young age, and her father even called her the “Poet Laureate of Hope End.” She got very sick in her teenage years and never fully recovered and had to isolate on and off for years, and she was lonely and frustrated with her condition. Around this time, Browning turned to literature and found a found solace in it and in writing. She went on to become a renowned poet, one of the best female poets in history.

Browning is best known for Sonnets from the Portuguese, which is a collection of love poems dedicated to her husband, Robert Barrett Browning. (For all love poems, I will refer to the speaker as Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the person she is talking to/about as Robert Barrett Browning.) It is comprised of 44 sonnets.

To honor Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I will discuss five of her sonnets from Sonnets from the Portuguese.

1. “Sonnet 14


This sonnet is also called “If thou must love me,” and it is a personal favorite of mine. Browning asks that her husband not love her for any reason except for love’s sake. She doesn’t want him to love her because of her smile or how she looks but just because he loves her. That kind of love is pure, is love in its simplest form, and is the only kind of love that lasts beyond death. It’s not wrong to love aspects about someone, but loving someone because of those things is not ideal. Personalities, looks, etc., change, and people’s opinions about things change. True love, however, does not.

For an analysis, click here.

2. “Sonnet 24


This sonnet is also called “Let the world’s sharpness,” and it has religious themes. It isn’t exactly a romantic love sonnet. It’s about packing away the world’s ugliness, struggles, and human hate. Browning talks abut leaning on her love, feeling safe and protected against the harsh and cruel world. But no matter what happens, love is always present somewhere in the world, and it is only through God that love will save the world. According to the poem, the human race can’t save the world alone, but they can be led by God to save it.

For an analysis, click here.

3. Sonnet 29


This sonnet is also called “I think of thee…” Browning talks about her husband and wanting him near her and not being content with just thinking of him. Her thoughts cannot compare to the real person. His presence would erase all thoughts of him, as she would be consumed in his presence and enjoy being with him—she wouldn’t need to think of him when he’s with her. It’s such a sweet sonnet, and it makes me believe in true love. I especially like how the real person is better than the thoughts about them; it’s usually the reverse, so it makes me happy.

For an analysis, click here.

4. Sonnet 43


This sonnet, also called “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” is one of Browning’s most famous poems. The opening line has been referenced in other media such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and even people who don’t know the whole poem recognize the first line. Browning describes her deep, unwavering love and affection for her husband. She loves him fiercely, more than anything, and she hopes to love him even after her death. The poem’s lovely language and metaphors make it a strong, enduring poem that readers can relate to today.

For an analysis, click here.

5. Sonnet 44


This is also called “Beloved, thou hast brought me flowers,” and it is the final sonnet in the collection. It acts as a conclusion, wrapping the previous poems up in a bow that summarizes everything quite nicely. Browning offers these poems to her husband as a gift, for all the gifts and flowers he brought her before. This was the only way she could express her feelings, the only way she could effectively show her love. It is an eternal gift, one that will live longer than any flowers. If baring one’s soul like this is not the epitome of love, I don’t know what is.

For an analysis, click here.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a huge influence on poetry, and her poems are still enjoyable today. She wrote a lot of other poetry, which you can buy here. (Sonnets from the Portuguese is included in here, but so are some of her other poems.)

For more on Elizabeth Barrett Browning, click here.