Epithalamion Summary And Critical Analysis Essay

Essay about analysis of Edmund Spenser's sonnet 67

906 WordsNov 16th, 20134 Pages

Edmund Spenser
Sonnet 67 Edmund Spenser’s Sonnet 67 is one of 85 sonnets from Amoretti which was written about his courtship of Elizabeth Boyle. Spenser and Boyle were married in 1594. Sonnet 67 uses a hunting themed metaphor common in 16th century England comparing the woman to a deer and the man to a huntsman in pursuit. Sonnet 67 appears to have been inspired by an earlier work by Petrarch, Rima 190, but with a different ending. In this paper we will take an in depth look at this work, also commonly referred to as “ Lyke as a Huntsman”. First we will take a look at a literal interpretation of Sonnet 67. This piece begins with a huntsman in pursuit. His stalked prey, a deer, has gotten away from him. He is tired and sick of…show more content…

“The gentle deare returnd the selfe-same way,” (Spenser ll. 7) shows that the woman comes back towards the man. Spenser uses the word deare instead of deer to allude to the metaphor of the deer actually being a woman that he cares for very much. However, she did not return to him specifically but just happened upon him in her search for someone or something else, “Thinking to quench her thirst at the next brooke” (Spenser ll. 8). Now we will look at the second half of Sonnet 67, also in a metaphorical sense. The woman sees that the man is no longer chasing after her “There she beholding me with mylder looke,” (Spenser ll. 9) and suddenly decides he might not be such a bad suitor after all “Sought not to fly, but fearelesse still did bide:” (Spencer ll.10). Spenser turns this piece around from the original Petrarch piece here. He shows that it is the woman that is in control as opposed to the man. He reaches out to her nervously because she has been running from him all this time and now she seems to be encouraging and wanting his affections. He appears hopeful that his sentiments will be well received by the woman and at the same time fearful of rejection. But she allows him to court her now and encourages him to love her instead of playing hard to get and running off again “Till I in hand her yet halfe trembling tooke, / And with her owne goodwill hir fyrmely tyde” (Spenser ll. 11 and 12). The man then thinks that it seems very odd to see the woman who

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Edmund Spenser wrote Epithalamion for his wife, Elizabeth Boyle, whom he married on midsummer’s day, 1594, the longest day of the year. (By the Julian calendar in use in England at that time, midsummer’s day fell on June 11.) The poem’s title comes from the Greek roots epi (“on”) and thalmos (“bridal chamber”). Spenser joins a classical tradition of writers of epithalamia with this poem. He employs classical and Christian allusions and precise formal structure to create a masterpiece unique in English literature, simultaneously personal and universal, sexual and spiritual, temporal and eternal, as it celebrates the beauty of marriage and the marriage bed.

The poem was originally published with Amoretti, a collection of eighty-nine sonnets that express the speaker’s love for his beloved and that are also believed to have been written for Elizabeth Boyle. Epithalamion documents the wedding day itself from start to finish, celebrating the long-awaited consummation of the love described in Amoretti.

In the tradition highly characteristic of early modern (Renaissance) literature, Spenser uses classical allusion heavily. His calling on deities and spirits such as Hymen, Juno, and the muses is an example of Christian neo-Platonism, in which classical figures are appropriated in the service of Christian spirituality. Thus, for example, the groom’s prayer to “Phoebus, father of...

(The entire section is 549 words.)


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