The sonnets rank among the finest love lyrics in the English language. The subject of the sonnets – love and the beloved, their soft music and the occasional graceful turn of phrase earn them an elevated place in English literature.
A bit more about the title of the sonnet collection, Mrs. Browning was not Portugese, but she was a pronounced brunette, which is why her husband referred to her as “my little Portugese”. When she compiled her love poems in book form, she remembered the nickname and gave them the title “Sonnets from the Portugese”. One of the sonnets, Sonnet XLIII, often called “How Do I Love Thee” is hereby reproduced:
Mrs. Browning’s Sonnet XLIII has been called the greatest love lyric in English and many readers would agree. The spontaneity and extent to which the persona in the poem experiences the emotion of love is very clear and evident from the beginning. In the poem, she expresses the fact that love encompasses her whole being and her whole life.
Looking into her biography, the reader discovers that she led an active child’s life until one day, in trying to saddle her pony, she fell and suffered an injury that made her a partial invalid for years. In 1816, however, she married the poet Robert Browning and went with him to live in Florence, Italy, where her health improved and where their only son was born. Apparently, marriage and a more cheerful outlook towards life agreed with her and did her a lot of good. Line 9 of the poem would attest to this: “I love with a passion put to use
Not all marriages are as perfect and ecstatic as that of the Brownings. In an analysis of short story that ensues, “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, the negative side of marriage is presented. On the outset, however, the reader is kept guessing (Is the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard, a happily-married