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Analysis of Edmund Spenser's Amoretti: Sonnet 70

Analysis of Edmund Spenser's Amoretti #70


Edmund Spenser wrote his Amoretti for his beloved Elizabeth Boyle, and so she is usually the addressee of all of the sonnets contained within it. In Sonnet 70, Elizabeth is not addressed personally until the ending couplet; instead, he uses spring as his messenger. Spring and love (and Cupid) are commonly grouped together; that is the time when a lot of flowers bloom, and animals begin to mate. Spring follows winter, which is a cold and lonely time for living beings. Flowers are stuck in the ground, and a lot of animals are hibernating or looking hard for a little food to eat. Spring also follows Christ's crucifixion, which is all about Christ sacrificing himself so that humankind could have a new beginning. Spring is a time of change and new beginnings; Spenser probably takes on this theme because his wedding to Elizabeth is vast approaching (there are only fifteen more sonnets left in the Amoretti, which chronicles the last days of his bachelorhood.

Spenser is addressing spring in this poem. Spring generally stands for rebirth, renewal and regrowth, which is suiting because it falls after the Easter holiday. Spring is the herald-one that proceeds or foreshadows-loves mighty king, which is Cupid (a.k.a. Amor or Eros). Cupid is "the ancient embodiment of suddenly budding love in its merry, roguish form" (87). Spring brings in his "cote armour" (coat of armor) a myriad of different flowers in goodly (pleasantly attractive) colors gloriously (marked by great splendor or beauty) adorned. The speaker bids spring to go and awaken his beloved from her winter "bowre" (bower- dwelling or retreat), because she is carelessly laying around when there is all of this beauty outside. He tells spring to tell her that this joyous time will not wait around for her, so she must "forelock take" (to act promptly". The word "doe," in line eight, is a pun on the word "do". A doe is a female deer, which he writes about in Sonnet 67.

The speaker asks spring to tell his beloved to make herself ready as quickly as possible, so that she can attend and serve Cupid ("to wayt on love") amongst his (Cupid) "lovely crew." Cupid's crew could either be those who are waiting for love or as seen in Hellenistic times Cupid "often multiplied to form who groups of cupids" (87). Everyone who misses their opportunity to meet their mate will be punished ("amearst") with the penance that they are "dew" (due). Dew is a pun on the word due. Dew is often found in nature imagery, for example, you find morning dew on flowers and plants, which brings us back to the whole nature theme.

In this last couplet, the speaker changes from addressing spring to addressing his beloved. He tells her to hurry up while the times is still "prime" (spring), because you cannot get back the time that you have wasted.


Sources


Biedermann, Hans. Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons & The Meanings Behind Them. Trans. James Hulbert. New York: Meridian, 1989.

Spenser, Edmund. "Amoretti: Sonnet 70." The Norton Anthology of Poetry. 5th ed. Ed. Margaret Ferguson. New York: Norton, 2005. 141.

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