The two following poems express different attitudes toward love. The first poem, “How do I Love Thee?,” was written in the nineteenth century and the second one, “First Person Demonstrative” was written in the twentieth century.
"How do I love thee?" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) 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 everyday'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 a 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.
"First Person Demonstrative" by Phyllis Gotlieb (1926-2009) I'd rather heave half a brick than say I love you, though I do I'd rather crawl in a hole than call you darling, though you are I'd rather wrench off an arm than hug you though it's what I long to do I'd rather gather a posy of poison ivy than ask if you love me so if my hair doesn't stand on end it's because I never tease it and if my heart isn't in my mouth it's because it knows its place and if I don't take a bite of your ear it's because gristle gripes my guts and if you miss the message better get new glasses and read it twice
- How did you feel after reading “How Do I Love Thee?” How did you feel after reading “First Person Demonstrative”? Which poem do you like better? Why? Which do you think is the more appealing poem?
- Compare the thoughts and feelings of the two poets. How do the poems differ? How are they similar? Does this comparison change your feelings toward either of the poems?