Men call you fair, and you do credit it,
For that yourself you daily such do see:
But the true fair, that is the gentle wit
And virtuous mind, is much more praised of me.
For all the rest, however fair it be,
Shall turn to naught and lose that glorious hue:
But only that is permanent and free
From frail corruption that doth flesh ensue,
That is true beauty; that doth argue you
To be divine and born of heavenly seed;
Derived from that fair spirit, from whom all true
And perfect beauty did at first proceed:
He only fair, and what he fair hath made:
All other fair, like flowers, untimely fade.
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 sigh
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun abd candlelight.
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.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning