How do I love thee, let me count the ways…*, so goes the perfect phrases of true love’s expression written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In late winter, it is the blooming hellebores, Helleborus orientalis, that reach into the depth of my soul to sear it with happiness.
The seedlings from the original three plants, a pink with no spots, a white with freckles and a darker reddish/pink with spotting have procreated in Nature’s magnificent design to produce color, petal and freckle variation.
*”How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”
(Sonnet number forty-three)
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.
The forty-four poems that became Sonnets from the Portuguese were written by the future Mrs. Browning between 1845 and 1846 while she was being courted by Robert Browning. They were first published in 1850 in her Poems with the 1856 edition containing most of the desired revisions and corrections.
Hungering for more Hellebore glamour shots? Here are a couple more fan magazine posts about them: