Lesson Plans: ‘Sonnet 43’ (Lesson One)



‘Sonnet 43’-Elizabeth Barrett-Browning Poem 4/14

Learning Objectives To continue developing an appreciation for poetry and the views expressed by poets. To recognize that poems do raise universal questions which are worthwhile contemplating. 


Starter Activity


1)    Read over ‘Time’, ‘The Flower-fed Buffaloes’ and ‘Report To Wordsworth’ as a class, reinforcing the importance of poetry as a spoken art-form and its close relationship to music (relevance-‘the sonnet’)

2) Remind students that the poems explored thus far deal with the themes of time and nature. Introduce the theme of love and relationships with ‘heart quotations’, each student reads one aloud, and a general conversation about what love is, and why they think people write and sing about it. (10 mins)


Main Teaching And Learning Activities

1) Introduce the sonnet-using a copy without the poet’s name on it for annotation. No need to state iambic pentameter, only that it has 14 lines, and is the most famous sonnet in the English language after Shakespeare’s ‘Shall I compare thee…’ 

2) Students read the poem to themselves silently, teacher reads the poem aloud, twice perhaps.

3) Ask pertinent general questions about the poem and purpose.

4) Line by line analysis for meaning-leave specific language questions for second lesson.

5) Read ‘Guess How Much I Love You’-make some comparisons.


Key Questions

  • What is ‘love’? Are there different kinds of love?
  • Why do you think so many writers write about love?
  • Sonnet 43 is one of the most famous poems in the English Language-why do you think this is so?


Lesson ends with Guess How Much I Love You to bring the poem back to its meaning and purpose after analysing the poem line-by-line. The following lesson draws upon the language devices employed and students commenting upon their effect in sentences. Re-read the poem for closure.




Why do you think “How do I love thee?” is such a popular love poem? (120 words)


One thought on “Lesson Plans: ‘Sonnet 43’ (Lesson One)

  1. EBB studied Hebrew and New Testament Greek it is certain that she was familiar with this passage in the NT when she wrote her 43 sonnet. This sonnet is clearly patterned after this scripture. Her words and sentiment apparently come directly from this text.

    Romans 8:38-39
    King James Version (KJV)

    38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

    39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    43 Sonnet

    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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s