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Edmund Spenser is the Prince of poets, England Arch-Poet, and the major non-dramatic poet of the Tudor period, who was born in East Smithfield, London in 1552 or 1553 (no record exists to establish his exact birth date, but the year is known in part due to Spenser’s own Poetry Amoretti Sonnet 60, he writes that he is forty-one years old, so the year of his birth can be closely guessed). Spenser is popularly known as the poet’s poet, a lover of natural (Iris) beauty, as a representative new voice of his age, as an emergent modernist, as the formulator of new notion of authorship, as well as the poet who ultimately retires from the public sphere into a private. He went on to study literature and religion at Cambridge University’s Pembroke Hall, receiving a BA in 1573 and an MA in 1576.

The Shepheardes Calendar is his first major work, which appeared in 1579, dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney. Spenser's magnum opus, The Faerie Queene dedicated to Queen Elizabeth was considered as the major English epic. The first three books of The Faerie Queene were published in 1590, and a second set of three books were published in 1596. Spenser originally indicated that he intended the poem to consist of twelve books, so the version of the poem we have today is incomplete. Spenser used a distinctive verse form, called the Spenserian stanza. In a Spenserian sonnet, the last line of every quatrain is linked with the first line of the next one, yielding the rhyme scheme ABABBCBCCDCDEE.

He published numerous relatively short poems in the last decade of the sixteenth century, almost all of which consider love or sorrow. In 1591, he published Complaints, a collection of poems that express complaints in mournful or mocking tones. In 1594, Spenser’s first wife Nachabyas Childe passed away. He then married Elizabeth Boyle in June of 1594. Four years later, in 1595, Spenser published Amoretti and Epithalamion. Alongside his poetry, Spenser pursued a career in politics, serving as a secretary first for the Bishop of Rochester and then for the Earl of Leicester, who introduced him to other poets and artists in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. In 1580, he was appointed secretary to the Lord Deputy of Ireland. In 1581, he made Ireland his home. In 1596, he wrote an inflammatory pamphlet called A View of the Present State of Ireland. In 1597, Spenser’s home in Ireland was sacked and burned during an Irish Rebellion. He fled back to London, financially ruined, where he remained until his death in Westminister. He died in London in 1599 and was buried in Poets’ corner in Westminster Abbey.


Amoretti was first published in 1595 in London by William Ponsonby. It was printed as part of a volume entitled Amoretti and Epithalamion. Amoretti (Italian for “Cupids”) volume contains eighty-nine sonnets commemorating his courtship of Elizabeth Boyle. He met this young lady during his tenure in Ireland. Spenser shared these poems with Elizabeth for over a year before consented to marry him. In Amoretti, Spenser uses subtle humour and parody while praising his beloved, reworking Petrarchism (imitating Petrarch’s sonnets) in his treatment of longing for a woman. These sonnets follow a progression from Spenser as desperate victim of infatuation, to frustrated lover, to blissful fiance, and end with him woefully missing his bride to be. The position of this sonnet in its relation to the BCP (Bellarmind College Preparatory) calendar is revealing Amor.75 marks 7th April, the Sunday after Easter, called Low Sunday (“Low” in comparison with the great celebration of Easter). The tone of this sonnet clearly reflects that contrast. In addition, Christ’s resurrection (hence immortality) may be compared with poet’s to immortalize the lady whom he is in love. The motion suggested both by the lines and the tender assurance of the lover’s affection make this a fine expression of love and one of the finest poems in the sequence.

“Though people are mortal, the love we share with them can be immortalized through art”.


One day I wrote her name upon the strand,

But came the waves and washed it away:

Again I wrote it with a second hand,

But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.

"Vain man," said she, "that dost in vain assay,

A mortal thing so to immortalize;

For I myself shall like to this decay,

And eke my name be wiped out likewise."

"Not so," (quod I) "let baser things devise

To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:

My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,

And in the heavens write your glorious name:

Where when as death shall all the world subdue,

Our love shall live, and later life renew."


The poet says that he writes his beloved’s name in the seashore but the waves sweep it to vanish. Again he writes her name but that cruel tidal flow progressed towards the coastline and seized his efforts along with his pain. He is ineffective against the tide. His beloved voices here “Vain man,” said she, that he is wasting his time in immortalizing her by taking his own pride that he is more powerful than natural elements. We human beings are mortal things that will eventually have to die, so immortalizing her is an impossible act. The poet’s lover did not have the confidence in his efforts of trying to immortalize her. She will be washed away just like her name that was washed away by the tide. “Not so,” (quoted I), he claims that he can make his love last forever despite mortality. He chooses the way of immortalizing her through verse. Let other things which is less important than her die of mortality and become dust, but he will “eternize” her virtues through his verse by writing her glorious name. He either will eternize her virtue through his verse or her rare virtue will eternize his verse. In time, both will happen. Thus writing her name in the heavens, will endure. Death will bring end to everything in this world but their love will not fade away like other mortal things on earth.The essence of their love will exists forever by renewing itself into the hearts of new lovers through the words of his poetry.

“Our love shall live, and later life renew.”

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