February 1, 2018

How Reading Poetry Helps a Speaker: Let Us Count the Ways

Resources , Poems to Read Aloud , The Buckley Experience

The Buckley School's founder believed that all speakers should hone their presentation skills by reading poetry out loud. We keep that worthwhile practice alive by including a poem in our magazine each month for you to read aloud.


An English poet of the Romantic Movement, Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a life that sounds like the plot of an outrageous romance novel--evil father, lonely childhood, poor health, locked away from the world until a young poet discovers her work, writes her no less than 574 letters, then helps her escape to Florence, Italy, where she finds friends and creates a family, pursues her writing career, and fights social injustices.

Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

Her Sonnets from the Portuguese, dedicated to her husband Robert Browning, includes one of the best-known love poems (or at least love lines) in the English language. She also wrote a verse novel, Aurora Leigh.

The letters between Barrett and Browning inspired the 1930 play The Barretts of Wimpole Street.


How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)


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.


From Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, here's Sally reading Sonnet 43 aloud while Snoopy provides his interpretation:

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