Analysis of Sonnet 75 (Amoretti) by Edmund Spenser Essay
Analysis of Sonnet 75 (Amoretti) by Edmund Spenser
Sonnet 75 is taken from Edmund Spenser’s poem Amoretti which was published in 1595. The poem has been fragmented into 89 short sonnets that combined make up the whole of the poem. The name Amoretti itself means “little notes” or “little cupids. ” This poem is said to have been written on Spenser’s love affair and eventual marriage to Elizabeth Boyle, his second wife. Sonnet 75 centers on the immortality of spiritual love and the temporality of physical love. In the seventy-fifth sonnet of Amoretti, the line scheme of three quatrains and a rhyming couplet is employed.
The rhyme scheme is the typical Spenserian sonnet format of the first quatrain being ABAB, the second being BCBC, the third CDCD and the couplet EE. It follows the meter of the iambic pentameter. The first quatrain has a narrative feel to it because of the beginning “One day I …” The second quatrain starts with a dialogue by a female, most probably the beloved. The third quatrain is an answer again in a conversation because of the use of “quoth I. ” The couplet at the end gives the conclusion like a fact because it uses the present participle tense. Sonnet 75 is a lyric because it tells of the poet’s personal experience.
Spenser writes this sonnet in the typical Petrarchan style. It is written in the pursuit of a woman whom he loves. The rhyme scheme coincides with the Petrarchan model. The whole sonnet reeks of the use of imagery. The very opening lines, “One day I wrote her name upon the strand, But came the waves and washed it away:” create a vivid image of the sea-side. Other excerpts from the sonnet that produce a visual effect are “decay,” “wiped out,” “die in dust,” and “in the heavens write your glorious name. ” while the first three evoke negative images, the last one paints a beautiful, fantastical picture in the mind.
The short sonnet incorporates alliteration very often, for instance, “die in dust,” “verse your virtue,” “love shall live,” “later life,” etc. The sounds that have been continuously been employed are /d/, /w/ and /l/. Alliteration throughout is helping form the images. The /w/ sound in “waves and washed it away” help create an audio impact of the swishing waves. The repetitive /d/ gives an ominous sound and is used for all such words, for example “decay,” “die,” “death,” etc. There is also repetition of certain words. “Vain” appears twice in one line.
Then, the concept of mortality is conveyed through “mortal,” “immortalize” and “eternize. ” The sonnet is rife with symbolism. The sea alludes to the distance that is between the lover and his beloved which is causing pain to the lover. The writing on the sand refers to the lover’s insistence on making a worldly impact on his beloved. The waves are a constant reminder of the cruelty of love, haunting again and again. By washing away the name of the beloved, the waves act as torrents of torture. The sea-side or beach also symbolizes a peaceful, comfortable place where the lover unreservedly expresses himself.
The lover’s writing on the sand can be a reference to man’s inherent desire to eternalize his being to be remembered forever. The waves here signify time. The erasing of the name by water signifies the transient nature of human life. It points towards the futility of man’s aspirations for immortality, especially poets who wish to be eternalized through their works. However, irrespective of how many times he may try to make his life meaningful, it is pointless. Everything is transitory and will eventually be destroyed. Personification is an important element in the sonnet. The sea or waves are given human qualities.
It “washed,” and “made my paynes his pray. ” Washing and preying or inflicting pain upon someone are human qualities. The poet has dexterously presented a contrast between the earthly and the celestial ideas and things. While in the first half of the poem, time and nature destroy the poet’s writing and attempts to immortalize it; in the second half the poet immortalizes his eternal, spiritual love through his writings. One of the indirect implications of the typical fifteenth century women being docile and subservient can be found in the waves being given a masculine quality.
Normally, nature is associated with the female entity because both are responsible for giving and sustaining life. Here, however, the author’s reason for giving a masculine identity to nature must be because of the malignant role it is playing. Edmund Spenser’s Sonnet 75 from Amorreti is not only an exquisite piece of Elizabethan times, it portrays the quintessential poetry of the time as well. His optimal employment of literary techniques of form, rhyme, imagery, personification and alliteration give the sonnet a wholesome structure and an pleasant quality. Theme : When he writes her name on the sand, her name is washed away by the waves.
He tries again and again but his all attempts when the tide is in will be washed. The lover here emphasize that allegorically; The tide represents “the time” and The sand of seashore represents his “memories” The word “tide” refers to the word “time” also in means of written and “sand” also refers to his memories because memory is a reflection of the past and it has a particular shape in minds to indicate particular moments and events which we experienced. but this shape in time becomes uncertain as the time passed memory skips over some important or trivial details.
So everthing can be forgetton, ,n memory there can be nothing everlasting JUST LIKE HER NAME ON THE SAND OF SEASHORE.. the poet has a great longing to immortalize her name. But he deduces that nature wants to explain that love is temporary. Because when he wrote her name the tide washes it away. Then the lady speaks that his effort is in vain he can not change the intrinsic nature of the mortality. She believes every mortal thing will be perished. She is offended by his attempt to immortalize her. But the lover believes when the love becomes immortal her name will be written in heaven. THE AMORETTI.
Edmund Spenser – Sonnet 75 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 doest in vain assay A mortal thing so to immortalize, For I myself shall like to this decay, And eek my name be wiped out likewise. Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise To die in dust, but you shall live by fame: My verse your virtues rare shall eternize, And in the heavens write your glorious name. Where whenas Death shall all the world subdue, Out love shall live, and later life renew.
“ One day I wrote her name upon the strand ’’ This a case of Hyperbaton because the normal order of wards has been changed . The ordinary syntactic order world have been “I wrote her name upon the strand’’. “Again I wrote it with a second hand, But came the tyde , and made my paynes his pray ’’ This is a case of Transferred Epithet [ Hypallage ] The epithet ‘ second ’ properly belongs to time rather than to hand . It may also a case of personification since ‘tide’ is seen as hunting down the efforts of the poet. ‘ For I myself shall like to this decay, And eek my name by urped out likeirse”.
This is a case of simile . The poet points to the similarity between the destruction of the engraved name by the sea and the death caused to the lady by time, the similarity is explicitly stated by the use of word ‘like’. “Not so,’ quod I, “ let baser things devize ” To die in dust but you shall live by fame ’ – This is a case of antithesis where two opposed ideas are balanced against each other to the same effect . The two ideas contrasted are the idea of the meaner things being reduced to dust by time on the one hand, and the idea of the superior beloved ‘ transcending this by fame , on the other .
“Where when as death shall all the world subdew, Our love shall live, and later life renew ” It is a case of Antithesis since the two opposed ideas of the death of the world and the living of their love are balanced against each other. This is also a cause of Epigram . Ordinarily the idea of the renewal of love after life may seem absurd, but on thinking more deeply one realizes that their love would indeed be renewed by the later generations of lovers who would model their love on the poet’s.