Today is the 200th anniversary of the publication of one of my favourite books, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I’m not alone in my love of Austen, as the numerous TV and film adaptions, prequels/sequels/zombie re-writings, and ‘Janeite’ conferences demonstrate, but she’s not short of detractors either, both now and amongst her contemporaries.
One of those who was not a fan of Austen’s work was Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who believed that Austen wrote with a lack of “poetry” and “inner life”. To remedy this, why not enjoy one of Barrett Browning’s most famous poems, full of heartfelt emotion, alongside the witty romance of Pride and Prejudice. The best of both worlds – I’m sure Lizzie Bennett would approve.
How Do I Love Thee?
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 candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love 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.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning