The abstract theme of love is explored in Sonnet 43 and 18, written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and William Shakespeare respectively, through a range of metaphors, alliteration and repetition. While Browning's poem is traditionally and conventionally a poem about love and admiration, Shakespeare rejoices the beauty of his lover beauty through time. A stark contrast can be observed as both poems focus on different elements of life, namely nature and religion, to facilitate in expressing their views about their loved ones.
Both the poems, Sonnet 43 and Sonnet 18, express love in distinctive ways, Browning begins the octave of the sonnet with a question, "how do I love thee," giving the reader an indication of her intense love that is further elaborated by a three dimensional "depth and breadth and height" limit. The use of inner rhyme "depth and breath" confines Browning's love however by professing this, she initially attempts to quantify her love but then implies that it is immeasurable by relating it to the abstract idea of her "soul". Additionally, her use of anaphora in "I love thee" reinforces the countless ways she loves "thee" by the technique of listing. Noticeably, Browning repeats the phrase exactly seven times: perhaps representing the seven days of the week, expressing that she loves the addressee of her poem every day. On the other hand, Shakespeare is infatuated by the beauty of his lover, presumably a girl, and eternalizes it to a great extent. Through the technique of personification in "thy eternal summer shall not fade" and "Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade," Shakespeare's lover embodies summer itself implying that her beauty will never "fade" and even death cannot cease it. Love, as a theme exists in poems, however differently, implying the many facets of this emotion.