My letters! all dead paper, mute and white! And yet they seem alive and quivering Against my tremulous hands which loose the string And let them drop down on my knee tonight. This said—he wished to have me in his sight Once, as a friend: this fixed a day in spring To come and touch my hand. . . a simple thing, Yes I wept for it—this . . . the paper's light. . . Said, Dear, I love thee; and I sank and quailed As if God's future thundered on my past. This said, I am thine—and so its ink has paled With lying at my heart that beat too fast. And this . . . 0 Love, thy words have ill availed If, what this said, I dared repeat at last!
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
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.