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Analysis of Edmund Spenser's Amoretti: Sonnet 74

Analysis of Edmund Spenser's Amoretti #74


Edmund Spenser's Amoretti: Sonnet 74 takes place in the second year of his courtship of Elizabeth Boyle. In this poem, he pays homage to all of the "Elizabeths" in his life. Spenser praises each one of them for the graces that they have bequeathed to him. It is a very sweet and loving poem.

The speaker begins the first quatrain with "most happy letter framed by skillful trade," which is a paean-a work that praises or honors its subject; a joyous hymn or song of praise. The name that he speaks of in line two is Elizabeth. The name Elizabeth has made him happy three times, because there are three Elizabeth's that make him happy-his mother ("of body"), Queen Elizabeth I ("fortune"), and his beloved Elizabeth Boyle ("mine").

The first gift given to him by "kind" (nature); his mother, Elizabeth, gave him life. The second gift is Queen Elizabeth I, who honored him with riches. Spenser hoped that his poetry would secure him a place in the queen's court. He visited the queen's court with Sir Walter Raleigh's company to deliver his most famous work, The Faerie Queene. The thrifty Queen Elizabeth granted him a fifty pound pension for the rest of his life, in recognition for his work. The queen's principal secretary, Lord Burghley, disagreed with this decision; however, his opinion could have been colored by the fact that Spenser antagonized him.

The third quatrain is dedicated to the speaker's beloved. She is the one who raised his spirit out of despair. To speak her praise and excellent renown, she is the most worthy to be praised of all that are living.

The speaker hopes that the three Elizabeth's will live on forever, because of the graces that they bestowed upon him. He will be forever grateful to have them in his life.


Sources


Spenser, Edmund. "Amoretti: Sonnet 74." The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Sixteenth Century/The Seventeenth Century. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 906.

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