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July 19, 2014

Amoretti #75 by Edmund Spenser- Analysis

Amoretti #75 by Edmund Spenser- Analysis

Edmund Spencer's Amoretti was published in 1595 after he met and married his second wife Elizabeth Boyle. Amoretti translates as "little notes" or "little cupids," and were written most likely about his wife. A successful love is an unusual topic for Spencer, who usually wrote sonnets about unrequited love (902). This poem follows the Spenserian sonnet format, which is abab bcbc cdcd ee (three quatrains and an ending rhyming couplet). Amoretti, Sonnet 75 is about the ability of love to transcend all boundaries; it will live on after death through his words.

A man wrote his beloved's name in the sand, but it was washed away by the tide. He writes her name again, but as before the tide washes it away. He writes her name a second time expecting different results; is this an act of insanity or of mere defiance? I believe that he is repeatedly writing his beloved's name in the sand to show his relentless need to have his love be remembered forever. Man has an innate need to carve out a place in history for himself; so that he feels that his life meant something.

One thing to note is that the narrator makes the wave masculine. Typically nature is associated with femininity, because women are the creators of life and nature's job is to sustain life. Perhaps the reason the narrator makes the waves masculine is because it is destroying something; in the late 1500s women were seen as submissive, fragile creatures, who were not involved in the eradication of life or memory.

In the second quatrain, a female voice (perhaps his beloved) tells him that he is working in vain to make something immortal that is not meant to be immortal. Mortal things inevitably fade from history, and there nothing that anyone can do to change that; the waves will come and wash away all trace of man, no matter how hard they try to stop it.

The reason I ventured that the female voice in the second quatrain is the voice of his beloved is because of lines ten and eleven. He tells her that she will live on through his verse (sonnet); the love that he wants to live on is between him and his beloved. The hope of every writer is to have their work immortalized; studied long after their death. Love transcends all bounds; even after death their love will be eternal.

This last rhyming couplet is meant to sum up the poem. Death cannot extinguish love; it will live on. It will be renewed every time someone reads this sonnet; these words can never die, thus their love will never die.


Spenser, Edmund. "Amoretti: Sonnet 75." The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Sixteenth Century/The Early Seventeenth Century. 8th ed. Vol. B. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 902-6.