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July 17, 2014

Amoretti #68 by Edmund Spenser- Analysis

Amoretti #68 by Edmund Spenser- Analysis

Edmunds Spenser's Amoretti follows his courtship of Elizabeth Boyle. Sonnet 68 was written on Easter day, and focuses on divine love rather than on human love; in fact, he doesn't even talk about human love until the couplet (last two lines) of the sonnet. He is putting ecclesiastical love above human love, and stressing that the only way for human to come close to divine love is through marriage.

Most glorious Lord of life (Christ) that on this day (Easter) did triumph over death and sin, and having harrowed hell brought away with you those who were held captive. On this joyous day, dear Lord, you washed away our sins with your blood, and died for us so that we may live on in happiness forever.

Christ "harrowd hell" refers to the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, Christ descended into hell and led out into Paradise the righteous, who had lived before his time. "Captivity thence captive" is a biblical phrase meaning that from that place of captivity in hell the people are brought forth into the bonds of heaven; you can see this phrase in Judges 5.12 and Ephesians 4.8.

We wait to be worthy enough of your love, and give you back the love you gave us. "All lyke deare didst buy" refers to when Christ bought all the people at the same great cost, his death.

Christ's main message was love, divine and earthly. In the New Testament's John 15.12, he states "this is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you." The way that men and women can most closely replicate Christ's love is through holy matrimony. England was largely Protestant at this time, so he would have had a Protestant wedding.


Spenser, Edmund. "Amoretti: Sonnet 68." The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Sixteenth Century/ The Early Seventeenth Century. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 906-6.