Table of Contents
ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS
– EDMUND SPENSER
An Introduction to the Poet:
Edmund Spenser was born around 1552 in East Smithfield, London. In 1561, he attended Merchant Taylors School, London. During his schooling he learnt Hebrew, Greek & Latin apart from English. Spenser got his B.A.degree in the year 1573 and obtained the Master’s degree after three years in 1576. It was at Cambridge that Spenser had the best of his times and enjoyed the valuable company of great men. Two of the most celebrated English philosophers- Everard Digby and William Temple, were at Cambridge when he was a student. Earlier at school he had made many friends which included Edward Kirke – the most probable E.K of the Calendar as also Gabriel Harvey who is supposed to have exerted considerable influence on Spenser and his poetic achievements.
Gabriel Harvey, a fellow of Pembroke, was a great influence on Spenser. Their friendship lasted long in spite of some bitter criticism that Harvey provoked in others. Thus, Harvey was interested in English versification. He wanted to introduce the quantitative prosody of Latin into English language. Both of them planned and made some experiments. Spenser’s Calender, too, had tried some new versification. Gradually Spenser came to be recognized as a poet more in English tradition than a radical one.
After his M.A. Spenser went to Lancashire to meet his relations. There he met Rosalind, whom he mentions in the Calenderand in Colin Clouts Come Home Again. It is believed that in 1577 he made a trip to Ireland in search of some job. Gabriel Harvey still remembered Spenser and it was he who introduced Spenser to Sidney Leicester. It was Leicester who gave him the job. He was appointed as a “private messenger to friends at distance”. This introduction to the Sidney house was a very happy event. It was through Leicester that he hoped to rise to the life at the court and Leicester was the favourite of the Queen.
In 1580, Spenser was appointed secretary to the new governor of Ireland where he spent most precious part of his life. As secretary his job was very difficult and entailed arduous duties. In 1581, he was “a clerk of the Chancery for Faculties, an office entrusted with the issuing and recording of dispensations granted by the Archbishop of Dublin”. In 1584 he was acting as a deputy to a gentleman called Lodowick Bryskett, a friend of Sir Philip Sidney. After this, many benefits came to Spenser. In 1585 Spenser was appointed prebendary of Limerick Cathedral and in 1588, he took up residence on the estate of Kilcolman.
In 1589, Spenser met Sir Walter Raleigh, an equality famous and youthful knight who had achieved what Sidney only dreamed. Spenser was soon drawn into intimacy, closer than that of Spenser and Sidney. Spenser confided his greatest project, the Fairie Queene and Raleigh quickly recognized the poetic merits of the poem. Raleigh friendship aroused in Spenser once again a keen desire “to push his fortunes at court”, Raleigh presented Spenser to the Queen and he was “graciously” received. Spenser dedicated the greatest work of his life “to the most mighty and magnificent Empress Elizabeth by the grace of god, Queen of England, France, and Ireland; Defender of the immediate Faith, etc;” Spenser had great expectations because the Faerie Queene was an success.
Soon Spenser was back in Ireland to perform the duties of his clerkship and settled down to the management of his estate. On June 11, 1594, he married Elizabeth Boyle, a lady of good family whom Spenser had courted for more than a year. The record of this courtship is preserved in Amoretti and Epithalamion.
The political conditions in Ireland, insurrection and revolt, gave really difficult time to Spenser. In October 1598 rebellion broke out in Tyron. Kilcolman Castle was completely destroyed by the mob and Spenser’s estate totally plundered. Spenser fled first to Cork and then to London. But he was now a broken man, emotionally, physically and financially. Soon after his arrival in London, Spenser was taken ill. He died on 16 January, 1599. He lies buried in Westminster Abbey, close to the grave of Geoffrey Chaucer.
Works of Edmund Spenser :
The Shepheardes Calenderwas published in 1579. This is supposed to be Spenser’s first major work. The poem consists of twelve eclogues each after the name of the corresponding month.
Spenser’s Complaints (1591) contain his condemnation of his age. Another poem, Colin Clout’s Come Home Again(1595) deals with Spenser’s visit to London.
Spenser published his Fowre Hymnesin 1596. This book was jointly dedicated to two ladies.
The Amoretticontains 89 personal sonnets which describe Spenser’s long courtship of Elizabeth Boyle whom he married afterwards. The supreme charm of these sonnets lies in the fact that they express a sincere emotion, an intense passion for the lady whom the poet did marry.
The Faerie Queeneis Spenser’s masterpiece at which he worked for nearly the whole of the later part of his life and died leaving it unfinished. His ardent desire was to rival the great ancient epics and thus vindicate the unlimited possibilities to which ‘our mother tongue’ could be stretched for use. It is an allegory on grand scale and each book is devoted to one virtue of which the protagonist is the embodiment. It is written in Spenserian Stanza which is Spenser’s special contribution to English versification.
The Epithalamion is Spenser’s gift to Elizabeth Boyle.
Prothalamion, is to celebrate the marriages of the Earl’s two daughters.
The sixteenth century in England is associated with the rise and spread of the Renaissancewhich took on different overtones from its European counterparts because of the impact ofthe Reformation. The spirit of unbounded humanism associated with the continental Renaissance, was tempered by the moral vision of a powerful puritan imagination, whichhadalready established itself in England by the time the Renaissance took effect there. Moreover, the Renaissance in England was never as profoundly an elitist phenomenon as itwas on the Continent. Perhaps, because of the distance from Italy, perhaps because of theentrenched popular traditions of literature and culture which were assimilated more than therenaissance in France. Because of the spread of protestant teachings and of literacy, the English Renaissance also had a mass base very different from its Continental counterparts. The direction of politics in the age- which led to the political distancing of England fromboth France and Italy, along with a native resurgence of nationalistic sentiments, andambitions to rival the Greeks and the Romans, their cultural achievements led to aninvolution of the spirit of the Renaissance that was specifically English in character anddistinct from its European counterparts.
The invention of the Printing Press also played a role in the emergence of the Renaissance inthe Continent and in England. It made possible the sudden and immense popularization ofthe new learning in Italy and in other European countries. It also contributed substantially tothe development and consolidation of national languages and consequently of naturaltraditions of literature. The classics were translated from the Latin and Greek originals intothe vernacular languages of different countries and published widely, allowing greateraccess to the new learning. The poetry of Edmund Spenser in many ways typifies this spirit.
What is a Sonnet?
A sonnet is a short poem of 14 lines. It has two parts – the octave and the sestet. The firsteight lines comprise the octave and the last six lines, the sestet. The octave has two quatrains (fourlines) and the sestet has two tercets (three-line groups). Rhyme is very important in a sonnet. Thesonnet first came into existence in Italy. It was perfected by Petrarch. The 16th century Englandreceived the Petrarchan sonnet. Later Shakespeare modified it and so the Shakespearian sonnetcame into existence. The Shakespearian sonriet consists of three Quatrains and a concluding orclinching couplet. The sonnet is the best form to convey concentrated thought or feeling of thepoet. Images and figures of speech decorate the poem. The Petrarchan sonnet has the rhymescheme abba, abba, abc, abc. The Shakespearian sonnet has the rhyme scheme abab, cdcd, efef,gg. Most sonnets begin with a universal statement or a very common ordinary experience.
Introduction to the poem:
“One day I Wrote Her Name” is the 75th sonnet in Amoretti, published in 159 Unlike the usual theme ofdespair in love, this sonnet celebrates a successful and faithful love. The lover vows toimmortalize this ladylove through his verses, a theme which was later on liberally adopted byother poets including Shakespeare. It describes Spenser’s courtship andmarriage to Elizabeth Boyle.Particularly, Sonnet 75 depicts the lyrical voice’s attempts to make his loved one immortal.A scene is described in which the lyrical voice has a conversation with his loved oneabout this particular topic. This poem is a Spenserian sonnet, formed by threeinterlocked quatrains and a couplet. It has an ABAB BCBC CDCD EE rhyme scheme and itis written in iambic pentameter. The main themes in Sonnet 75 are immortality and love.
This sonnet conveys a noble and philosophical idea. The sentiment expressed is true andsincere. Its theme is the perishability of all material monuments. The poet substitutes materialmonuments for his verse which would stand the test of time and immortalize his love.
On the vast stretch of sands on the shore the poet and his lady love are seated close to eachother. The poet starts to write the name of his lady love in the sand. But soon the waves come andwash it away. Again he tries but in vain. The beloved tells him that he is trying to immortalize amortal thingShe is mortal and so too her name. But the poet is cleverer and more philosophical.He asserts that baser things die in dust. But his verse shall eternalize her rare virtues and herglorious name will be written forever in heavens. He is confident that even after death their loveshall live. Thus, Spenser immortalizes true and sincere love.
Amoretti and the English Sonnet tradition :
Sonnet 75 forms the last section of the Amoretti sonnets. The Amoretti sonnets share many of the typical characteristics of the court poetry of sixteenth century Renaissance England. Apart from its use of the sonnet form, which was very fashionable by the time Spenser waswriting, it also shares for instance the fashion of incorporating classical and Biblicalallusions and mythology. Another very popular idea that these sonnets share with theircontemporaries is that of avowed intent of immortalizing their subjects- in this instance, Elizabeth Boyle. While Spenser owes some of his imagery in particular to Continentalwriters like the Italian poet Tasso and the French poet Ronsard, these sonnets are essentiallyvariations on the Petrarchan sonnet, which Spenser was familiar with given the popularity of Petrarchan poetry in Elizabethan England, and through his own translations of Petrarch.
The Petrarchan sonnet, like all sonnets, has fourteen lines and is usually divisible into twoparts, the octave (eight lines) with the rhyme scheme abba abba, and sestet (six lines) withthe rhyme cdecde, or its variants like cdccdc. Typically, the Petrarchan sonnet also employsthe Petrarchan conceit of the beautiful, yet unresponding, cruel and distant mistress/beloved, the object of the sonnet’s address. This figure was picked up and reworked by Elizabethansonneteers, in translations of Petrarch and in original poems, till it became almosthackneyed. But the Petrarch of the Elizabethan imagination is the early Petrarch, obsessed by the instability of his passions, manifested in his poetry through the common device of theoxymoron. The later Petrarch, who seeks absolution from such mutability, is picked up onlyby Spenser among Elizabethans,
In Spenser’s versions therefore, the mistress is a much more accessible and responsivefigure than the Elizabethan type or the early Petrarch. The entire sonnet sequence may besplit roughly into three movements, or phases of passion. The first section (sonnets 1-36) islargely in the mode of complaint, and sees the mistress as tyrannical and his own loveoppressive. The second section (sonnets 37-69) refigures the lover and his mistress in moreexploratory and therefore more conciliatory terms, with the lover appearing more aware ofhis mistress as herself a feeling, thinking and speaking subject of passion. The last section (sonnets 70-87) is a reversal of the first phase: it sees the poet-lover as successful in hisamorous enterprise, and the terms of relation change, towards the subordination of themistress to the desire and will of the lover. It must be noted that, like a finely composedpiece of music, the three movements cannot, in actuality, be so easily separated: there areoverlaps and seepages in the themes identified above, between the different phases. However, it has the advantage of providing us with a useful perspective on the complexsentiments and attitudes expressed in this sonnet sequence. The three sonnets chosen forstudy in this unit may be seen as belonging respectively, one to each of the three movementsidentified above. Spenser also experiments with the line and rhyme schemes of the sonnet,splitting it into three linked quatrains and a couplet. You will study the effect of this in youranalysis of the sonnet.
The sonnet celebrates the final triumph of love and through that eternalizes not only thebeloved but the verse which has become the medium for that immortality. The sonnetrepresents the Renaissance ideal of balance between emotion, reason and artistry. Read thesonnet through; absorb the lyrical movement of the lines, identify the rhyme scheme andtrace the development of thought. The sonnet is the Spenserian variation of thePetrarchansonnet form consisting of fourteen lines divided into two parts typically known as an Octave(8 lines) and a sestet (6 lines). In this sonnet Spenser links each quatrain to the next by acontinuing rhyme abab bcbc cdcd ee. The first quatrain reflects the poet’s obsession with theidealized beloved – in this case – love for Elizabeth Boyle because the Amorettisonnetssought to describe the many phases of Spenser’s courtship. The lover’s efforts are washedaway and the voice of reason prevails,
“Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalize,
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eek my name is wiped out otherwise.”
The octave thus traces one pattern of thought and action. The sestet, i.e. the next part of thesonnet introduces and lyrically constructs a counterargument which ends the sonnet on anote of affirmation, and transcendence. The facts of decay and death are not denied but the possibility of survival beyond death on another plane remains to provide its own rewardsbefitting that love which is pure and sincere. The sonnet represents the innovation as well as the artistry cultivated by a poet like Spenser. In a typical Renaissance fashion, the sonnetalso celebrates the value and performance of art the way in which Shakespeare did later. Thesonnet is significant in its deviation from the convention, in which the beloved is the “hunted” and the poet, the “hunter” who fails in his chase. Sonnet LXXV elevates therelationship of the lovers to a plane of memorable actualization.
ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS
ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSIS ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME SUMMARY & ANALYSISShare now