COMPARISON:Browning's Sonnet 43 and Byron's So, Well Go No More A-Roving

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Theme of Love

Sonnet 43 and So, We’ll Go No More A-Roving

Sonnet 43 is a petrarchan sonnet written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the Victorian age. Through this sonnet she expresses her intense love for her husband, Robert Browning. Her love is shown sensual as well as emotional. It also appears to us that the Elizabeth Browning is reading this poem to her husband who is very sad at the moment. The poem starts with a rhetorical question, “How do I Love thee?” and the theme of love is replete in the poem. The word ‘love’ is used ten times in the sonnet.  The sonnet is written with the rhyme scheme A B B A, A B B A, C D C, D C D. It is written in iambic pentameter.

She briefly talks about the grief of her husband due to the death of his mother, as well as her own grief of leaving her father while eloping with her husband. She repeats the phrase “I love thee” eight times in the sonnet out of which thrice is one after the other (anaphora or repetition) and this phrase can be given the title of the poem. This sonnet was published under the title ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese’. Her love for her husband is eternal, as she will love him even after her death and her love also shows her faith in the Christian ideology in the immortality of the soul. She says that her love for her husband is so deep that it is rendered immeasurable. Her love cannot be weighed and measured in physical quantities; it is eternal and immortal.

In the first line we find a mark of exclamation. This mark shows how she is lost in the contemplation of her love and how she is in a state of stupor. She has used a number of similes, metaphors, enjambment and visual imageries of sun and candlelight to make her claims more emotional and stronger. The images of sun and candlelight show that her love has given her the embers and sparks of life. After the sestet (a Volta), she says that she loves him with the same intensity with which man craves for his rights. If her love is passionate, it is also as spiritual as those of the people who return from the church. She has matured and lost her faith in the dreams of childhood but her love is as strong as the faith of a child that is beyond any restrains and constraints. With the passage of time, she has given up many things in her life such as her childhood memories, her life at her parents’ house etc. But her love cannot be limited even by the concepts of time and space.

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This poem is remarkable for the biblical imagery. She explains her love for her husband in three-dimensional terms, just like the Israelites who loved god despite their not having seen him. Just like the Israelites she also seems to worship her husband. In the line, “For the ends of Being and Ideal Grace”, the capitalization of the letters B, I and G, she asserts that her love is divine and that she is living for her love only. With the help of this line “I love thee… Praise”, she claims that her love not just emotional, but also religious, ...

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