Blog on, Amoretti LXXV, by Edmund Spenser
my tribute poem included below,
Sailing Away From Dark That Wrecks Havoc On Earth
Earth left cursing in raging anger and sad roars
horrid spinning mess, its great darkness raining fear
vast teeming multitudes, with evil shore to shore
lies, wicked beasts, future never really clear.
These new waters, horizon now promising love
her beautiful kiss, those lips waiting just for me
Heaven sending guiding angels down from above
singing of light, truth and a divine sanctity.
My soul, its core now filled with a king's treasure worth
of romance and flowery meadows gifting life
sailing away from dark that wrecks havoc on earth
my ship, cutting through sleeping waters like a knife.
Sailing away upon Heaven's soft, tender sea
ranging across waters with her windblown caress
repentant and dwelling within bountiful glee
a sinner, long ago my sins I did confess.
Sailing into expanse of waiting paradise
her big bright smile gifting an ocean of delight,
never again begging more, this love shall suffice
with passionate gems gifted each and every night.
Pray I, eternity weds our lives, love and all
And we together, sail to our true Port of Call.
Robert J. Lindley, 7-26-2020
Rhyme, ( The Dreams And Sweetest Wishes Of Youth )
Syllables Per Line:
0 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 0 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 0 12 12 12 12 0 12 12
Total # Syllables:264
Total # Words::::178
A Short Analysis of Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti LXXV: ‘One day I wrote her name upon the strand’
Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti is one of the greatest of the Elizabethan sonnet sequences; after Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella (which was the first great sonnet sequence in English), it is perhaps the greatest of all. Sonnet LXXV from Amoretti, beginning ‘One day I wrote her name upon the strand’, is probably the most famous poem in the cycle, and deserves closer analysis for its innovative use of a popular conceit.
by Edmund Spenser
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 whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.’
‘One day I wrote her name upon the strand’ addresses one of the key themes of the Elizabethan sonnet sequence: the struggle of the poet to immortalise his beloved, the woman his sonnets are written in praise of. In summary, Spenser tells us that he wrote his beloved’s name on the beach one day, but the waves came in and washed the name away. He wrote his beloved’s name out a second time, but again the tide came in and obliterated it, as if deliberately targeting the poet’s efforts (‘pains’) with its destructive waves.
Portrait of Edmund Spenser
From "Biographical Illustrations", by Alfred Howard. [Thomas Tegg, R. Griffin and Co., J. Cumming, London, Glasgow and Dublin, 1830]. Artist Unknown. (Photo by The Print Collector via Getty Images)
Edmund Spenser is considered one of the preeminent poets of the English language. He was born into the family of an obscure cloth maker named John Spenser, who belonged to the Merchant Taylors’ Company and was married to a woman named Elizabeth, about whom almost nothing is known. Since parish records for the area of London where the poet grew up were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, his birth date is uncertain, though the dates of his schooling and a remark in one of his sonnets (Amoretti 60) lend credence to the date traditionally assigned, which is around 1552. Spenser’s reinvention of classical pastoral, The Shepheardes Calendar, was admired by Sir Philip Sidney as a major contribution to the development of English literature and national culture. His epic poem, The Faerie Queene, was written in honor of Queen Elizabeth I and in celebration of the Tudor dynasty. Along with Sidney, Spenser set out to create a body of work that could parallel the great works of European poets such as Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio and extend the line of English literary culture began by Chaucer. Among Spenser’s many contributions to English literature, he is the originator and namesake of the Spenserian stanza and the Spenserian sonnet.
A glimpse of Spenser’s audacious plan to help provide England with a great national literature appears in an appendix printed in the 1590 edition of the first three books of The Faerie Queene. In a letter addressed to his neighbor Sir Walter Ralegh, Spenser sets out to explain the “general intention and meaning” of his richly elaborated epic. It is “an historicall fiction,” written to glorify Queen Elizabeth and “to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline.” In pursuing this latter aim, the poet explains that he has followed the example of the greatest epic writers of the ancient and the modern worlds: Homer and Virgil, Ludovico Ariosto and Torquato Tasso. Now, to set out to depict the queen herself and to “fashion” members of her nobility in virtuous and well-bred discipline was certainly a bold undertaking for the son of a London weaver. For him to compare his work with the most exalted poetry of Italy, the glittering center of European culture in this period, must have seemed to many of his readers mere bravado or self-delusion.
The attempt to write a neoclassical epic in English was without precedent—unless, perhaps, one includes Sidney ‘s Arcadia (1590), which was begun at about the same time. Among the heroic poets named in Spenser’s Letter to Ralegh as worthy practitioners of the form, Virgil was generally regarded as the greatest, and Spenser, like Dante and Petrarch before him, seems to have taken Virgil as his personal mentor and guide. From the Proem to Book I of The Faerie Queene, the reader may infer that Spenser sometimes thought of his entire career as a recapitulation of that of his illustrious Roman counterpart. He began, as Virgil had begun in his Eclogues, with pastoral poetry, which Spenser published in his first major work, The Shepheardes Calender. A decade later, in The Faerie Queene, he graduated to poetry on martial and political subjects, as Virgil had done when he wrote his great epic, the Aeneid, for the court of Caesar Augustus. Spenser’s opening lines, which echo verses prefixed to the Aeneid, announce his intention to exchange his “Oaten reeds” (or shepherd’s pipes) for “trumpets sterne.” Although he transformed the traditional epic introduction to include an invocation to Cupid, god of love, along with the more traditional address to the Muses and although the poem actually resembles the quasi-medieval romance epics of Ariosto and Tasso more closely than it does classical epics, the poet’s claim to follow in the great line established by Homer and passed down by Virgil was altogether serious.
Conscious self-fashioning according to the practices of ancient poets, and also of more-recent ones on the Continent, was an essential part of Spenser’s project—but only a part. With his eye frequently turned to Chaucer and other English authors, he set out to create poetry that was distinctively English—in religion and politics, in history and custom, in setting and language. For example, he mentions in the Letter to Ralegh that he designed his epic to depict “twelve private morall vertues, as Aristotle hath devised.” In reality, however, just three of the six books that he lived to complete revolve around virtues that Aristotle would have recognized, and even those three—temperance, friendship, and justice—were greatly altered by Spenser’s Anglo-Protestant form of Christianity and by other elements in his English background. The other three—holiness, chastity, and courtesy—have little to do with Aristotle but much to do with England in the high Middle Ages. In the best sense Spenser’s art is syncretistic, drawing together elements from many traditions. Its aim, however, was to enrich the culture of his native land.
The process by which he realized this aim was neither rapid nor predictable. Comparing Spenser with Sidney, C.S. Lewis has written that he was “a more ordinary man, less clever, less easily articulate,” and he succeeded by working harder. For that very reason, perhaps—along with his understated humor, his deep understanding of human psychology, and his easy humanity and good sense—Spenser has been closer than Sidney to the hearts of many of his countrymen.
Spenser’s parents took what may have been the most important step in advancing their son’s fortunes by enrolling him in the Merchant Taylors’ school in London. During the early 1560s, when Spenser began his studies there, it was under the able direction of a prominent humanist educator named Richard Mulcaster, who believed in thoroughly grounding his students in the classics and in Protestant Christianity, and who seems to have encouraged such extracurricular activities as musical and dramatic performances. Mulcaster was also important to Spenser’s career for purely pragmatic reasons, since he had good connections with the universities and sent students of modest means such as Spenser on to them with some regularity. The poet later expressed his gratitude to Mulcaster by depicting him as “A good olde shephearde, Wrenock” in the December eclogue of The Shepheardes Calender and by naming his first two children, Sylvanus and Katherine, after those of his master.
The only glimpse that survives of the young poet at school comes from financial records indicating that in 1569, when he was in his last year, he was one of six boys given a shilling and a new gown to attend the funeral of Robert Nowell, a prominent lawyer connected with the school. This connection with Nowell was to prove important to Spenser’s later development, for the lawyer’s estate helped support his subsequent education.
In 1569, at the usual age of 16 or 17, Spenser left the Merchant Taylors’ School for Cambridge, where he enrolled at Pembroke Hall. Even before he arrived, however, he was already composing poetry and attracting the attention of other writers. Perhaps with the help of Mulcaster, who had friends in the Dutch immigrant community, he had recently arranged to publish thematically linked sets of epigrams and sonnets entitled The Visions of Petrarch and The Visions of Bellay, which appeared in the collection commonly referred to as A Theatre for Worldlings (1569) by the Dutch poet Jan van der Noot. Even in his maturity Spenser seems to have thought well of these early translations of French and Italian poetry, for he revised and reprinted them among his Complaints in 1591. Although not original, they nonetheless shed light on Spenser’s interests at the time which were directed toward poets of the Continent and had already settled on themes that would surface again in his later poetry, namely the tragic precariousness of life and the impermanence of things in the material world.
Such scraps of reliable information about Spenser during his university days suggest that he served as a sizar (a scholar of limited means who does chores in return for room and board) and that he earned his BA in 1573 and his MA in 1576 with no official marks of distinction as a scholar. He regarded the experience as vital to his development, however, as can be seen in his later reference to the university as “my mother Cambridge” in The Faerie Queene (IV.xi.34). Little is known of his friendships at Pembroke. He must have been acquainted with Lancelot Andrewes, two years his junior, who later became a bishop and was well known for his sermons and for his part in translating the King James Version of the Bible. Clearly, Spenser had also gained the confidence of the master of Pembroke, John Young, who later became bishop of Rochester and gave the poet his first post as a personal secretary. Most important for Spenser’s literary career, however, was his close friendship with Gabriel Harvey, a professor of rhetoric who served initially as his mentor and ultimately as his literary promoter. Spenser later celebrated their friendship in The Shepheardes Calender, in which he appears as Colin Clout and Harvey is represented as the wise shepherd Hobbinoll.
Though a lackluster poet himself, Harvey seems to have encouraged Spenser in many of the aspirations that later shaped his career. Harvey was characteristically effusive, for example, about the need to ground English poetry on the great models of Greco-Roman antiquity, both by shaping its versification on Latin principles and by undertaking classical genres that had not yet been attempted in English. In the late 1570s he composed a vernacular epic (now lost) and a work on the ancient Muses of poetry that is similar in outline to Spenser’s Teares of the Muses (1591). At about the same time, he may have played a part in introducing Spenser to Sidney and in securing for his friend a position in the London household of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth as well as a key figure in the radical Protestant faction at court and one of the most powerful noblemen in the realm. The connections with Leicester and Sidney helped to launch Spenser’s career, both as a poet and as a government official. Finally, in 1580, just before circumstances forced a separation between the two friends, Harvey gave Spenser’s prominence as a writer a boost by publishing a set of five high-spirited letters that had passed between them, which helped to establish his friend’s public image as England’s “new poet.”