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Analysis of Edmund Spenser's Amoretti: Sonnet 67

Analysis of Edmund Spenser's Amoretti #67


Edmund Spenser wrote Amoretti, a collection of 85 sonnets, about his courtship of Elizabeth Boyle. Sonnet 67 takes place on March 30, 1594. This poem is largely about who really has the power in their relationship; it is evident in this poem that the only way he will ever capture her is if she allows him to capture her, she has all the power. This poem is also an imitation of Petrarch's Rima 190, but it has a different ending.

The sonnet begins with the simile "like a huntsman," and then turns into a typical hunting metaphor that was common in 16th century England. The only variation on this metaphor is that the deer has more agency than is typically given to women in these types of poems. The "gentle deer" is the subject of the poem; so if you rearrange the sentence it reads "the deer, like a hunter tired from the hunt, returns to the brook to quench her thirst. Equating the deer and the hunter gives her more personal power (agency). In the second quatrain, the deare returns to the brook on her own accord, not only is that sign of her dominance over the hunter it is also like saying 'if you let something go and it comes back then it is meant to be.

Spenser plays on the pun deare/deer in line seven, saying that his dear is as elusive as the deer he is hunting in the woods. He also makes sure to put "gentle" in front of "deare" as a way of making her sound meeker and more like the wife he wants; throughout the Amoretti he describes his beloved as being "gentle."

She looks upon him milder eyes, meaning she is resigning herself to him; she is allowing him to capture her. She didn't want to flee, but stood there and waited for him to come and claim her.

She was trembling with the fear of the unknown, but she consented to be tied to him (possibly meaning in holy matrimony).

He is taken aback, because he does not seem to realize that his beloved was the hunter and he was hunted all along; he thought he was in control and running the show, but in actuality his beloved was ten steps ahead of him. This is how the hunted becomes the hunter.




"Spenser's unique use of these motifs is proper to the poem's position within the Amoretti cycle. Set on the evening before Easter, March 30, the poem speaks to the ancient liturgical tradition associated with the date: the procession of the catechumens to the front of the church to be baptized while Psalm 42, a psalm with its opening construction of "Lyke as" (1.1) and with its images of "thirst" and a "brooke" (1.8). Moreover, the idea of the willful prey alludes not only to the catechumens' willing movement to baptism-which is a symbolic death-but also to the willing movement of Christ to his own slaughter" (Femino).

Sources

Femino, Melissa. "Amoretti:Sonnet 67." The Facts on File Companion to British Poetry Before 1600. Vol. 1. Ed. Michelle Sauer.

Spenser, Edmund. "Amoretti: Sonnet 67." The Norton Anthology of Poetry. 5th ed. Ed. Margaret Ferguson. New York: Norton, 2006. 141.

Published on July 17, 2014 by Sophia Brookshire © All Rights Reserved

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