Content takes its shape in many forms. Content appears as words, images, and music. The purpose of content is to convey a thought, idea, expression, or purpose. The poets that came before us were the original content writers. They spoke with messages of love, war, death, and tragedy long before the internet, audio books, or mass media.
Who wrote, “How do I love thee?” (Sonnet 43)?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861) was an English poet born in the Victorian period, and an active participant in the Romantic Movement. According to the website, National Poetry Day,
“Elizabeth’s volume Poems (1844) brought her great success, attracting the admiration of the writer Robert Browning. Their correspondence, courtship and marriage were carried out in secret, for fear of her father’s disapproval. Following the wedding she was indeed disinherited by her father. The couple moved to Italy in 1846, where she would live for the rest of her life.”
Elizabeth authored this poem in a book published in 1850. It was dedicated to her husband. How Do I Love Thee? is the most well-known of her poems and has a female narrator. This was a highly unusual approach for the time. Let’s take a read:
How do I love thee? (Sonnet 43)
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Can you identify with her intense feelings of love towards her husband? Did you gather that the author was a woman? The intensity of her words comes off the page, and if you have ever heard it spoken, you surely would be moved.
Content is meant to spark a feeling, move the reader/listener to take an action, or provide entertainment. Elizabeth Barrett Browning accomplishes this and more with her poem.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Reach out to the ones you love on this Valentine’s Day. Tell them how you feel, show them what they mean, and move them to feel you and your intentions.
Find your (Valentine’s) voice.