Literary Analysis of Edmund Spenser’s Sonnet Amoretti

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About this sample


Words: 773 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Words: 773|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Spenser’s “Amoretti” is a sonnet cycle dedicated to his wife, Elizabeth Boyle. Among this group of sonnets, a seemingly odd one is discovered: Sonnet 68. This one, instead of being a love poem written exclusively for his beloved, it is a diversion from the typical sonnet. It shifts its attention towards celestial love rather than mortal love. This brings an unusual focal point since it splits from the sequence of the poems yet it accomplishes to consistently incorporate the general aspects of the Petrarchan sonnet. Mainly through the use of structure and progression, this author relies not only on rules but contrasts to reflect the common theme of love by using religious aspects in his piece.

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To begin with, the sonnet organizes its ideas in the three quatrains-plus-couplet form. This structure serves to give it more than one turning point, marking a difference from the Petrarchan sonnet which traditionally only holds one volta. The first turning point is found in line five: “This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin, / And grant that we, for whom thou diddest die”. It is considered a turning point because the first four lines of the poem describe Jesus’ achievements and celebration of his triumph over sin and death, but then it turns this festivity into an exhortation for the reader to be joyful about it. The second turning point arises in line nine: “And that thy love we weighing worthily, / May likewise love thee for the same again”. In this third quatrain, the speaker introduces the idea of giving each other love, just as Christ did for us when he gifted his life for all humankind. Lastly, lines thirteen and fourteen (the couplet), act as the resolution of the poem, here the speaker conclusively addresses his lover by encouraging her to love him. When he says, “So let us love, dear love, like as we ought, / Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught,” it shows that he finds an application of what he had described about love in the previous lines; they should love each other because it is God’s command and he loved us first. Consequently, the use of this structure also affects the progression of the main idea. In a conventional sonnet, it is common for the content to involve either a question and then an answer, or a problem and then a solution. In this particular sonnet, there is no actual problem the speaker struggles with.

As a matter of fact, his emotions and tone only reflect happiness, joy, celebration, excitement, and rejoice in Christ’s love. However, he does approach this issue differently. On the second quatrain, the movement of the idea advances as a question, or better said, as a supplication. In lines seven and eight, it says: “Being with thy dear blood clean washed from sin, / May live forever in felicity.” This is the moment where the speaker asks God to enable him to live happily ever after. Furthermore, this petition also shows the generous and unselfish character of the speaker, who not only asks for his own sake but for everyone else’s. He wishes to share his happiness with the rest of the world and he shows this as the poem comes closer to the end. As a result, both the form and the movement of the sonnet work together to have an impact on the theme. Like the traditional sonnet, it adheres to the theme of love, but in contrast, it refers more to the love of God than to the love among people. This is how we see the structure addition of having two voltas affects its progression since these turning points acts as division of the speaker’s attention towards God and then his lover but still in the fields of love.

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At last, this piece was written during Easter day, a day that for many is one of remembrance of the hope we have in Christ, that there is salvation in the midst of darkness, which explains his ecstatic tone and the reason behind why he chose to focus on the heavenly and divine love of the Lord keeping the human love under level. Even though Spenser followed the rules of the sonnet, he did not fear the uncommon, he used the Easter story as a pretext for the audience to learn how to love one another. He used this as a justification for his love towards his wife, and vice versa. These well-crafted actions filled with rare content is what makes this sonnet interesting and elevates its value because it brings diversity to the realm of poetry.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Literary Analysis of Edmund Spenser’s Sonnet Amoretti. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
“Literary Analysis of Edmund Spenser’s Sonnet Amoretti.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
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