Attending Spenser’s Sonnet 57 and Sonnet 67 (Amoretti) Can Be Interesting If We Remember Popular Theme of Indifference and Chastity


"So let us love, dear Love, like as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught."
Edmund Spenser 1552? - 1599
English poet.

The tradition of writing a sequence of many sonnets, based also on the Petrarchan model, was initiated in English by Sir Philip Sidney in Astrophel and Stella 1580, a prolonged argument by the speaker, Astrophel, aimed at overcoming his mistress's indifference and chastity. Other important sequence of the period, Amoretti 1595 by English writer Edmund Spenser, employs similar arguments, though it ends with the possibility that the lovers will unite and eventually marry. Spenser’s Sonnet 57 and Sonnet 67 is an argument by the speaker aimed at overcoming his mistress's indifference and chastity. But both the sonnets are differently modeled. While Sonnet No. 57 uses war metaphor, Sonnet No. 67 uses the hunting one.

Spenser’s Sonnet 57 continues the ongoing struggle the speaker suffers in dealing with an unresponsive beloved. The lover addresses his beloved as a “Sweet warrior” and asks a question “when shall I have peace with you?” The question is self evident of the frustration and desperation in his tone.  Like that of many Shakespearean sonnets, this sonnet continues with the torment the speaker is going through while dealing with an indifferent beloved. Read More Elizabethan Literature

The lover asks her to end the war she has waged against him as he cannot tolerate any more. His powers have weakened and his wounds have deteriorated. He says that the arrows shot from her eyes pierced through his heart and make him unable to survive without her. In the final two lines he requests her to “Make peace” “and graunt” him “timely grace”, “so That” all his “wounds will heale in little space.” Her attacks are the constant refusals that make him suffer.

Spenser’s sonnet 57 is reflective of the sufferings the poet is going through. The intense emotional frustration that arises in him when his beloved is in continuous refusal of his proposal can be seen in the “Yet shoot ye sharpely still, and spare me not”.

The parabolic poet-lover moans in pain when she shoots him with her arrows that directly touch his heart. In the sonnet, poet describes himself as a mere slave pleading her in order to make her accept his proposal. He wants to end all the conflicts and wars in between them and want to live in complete peace with her:
"Make peace therefore, and graunt me timely grace,
    that al my wounds will heale in little space."

Spenser wants the war to be over. He asks her what glory she can gain “in slaying him that would liue gladly yours”  and ends by suing for peace and grace, “That al my wounds will heale in little space”  . Here, again, is irony in that the poet turns his repeated efforts to woo the woman into a defensive stance against her “attacks,” which are in fact merely her refusal to accept his proposal. Read More Elizabethan Literature

 Spenser’s sonnet 67  which is a Spenser's English rendering of Petrarch's Canzoniere 190, “Una candida cerva sopra l'erba,” mixed with Tasso’s Rime 388 (‘Al Signor C. Pavesi’) aims at winning the ladylove en route a game. Through a typical hunting metaphor the lover and beloved are the hunter and the haunted. Loving or trapping in love is itself a game with devise and articulation. The sonnet is beautifully designed a game plan where there is three character- the lover, the second lover (false lover) and the ladylove. 

The lover has chased the lady for the game of love and it failed him drastically panting. He has become a vaine man in vaine essay like that of Sonnet no. 75.  Dejected lover cum hunter is contemplative at the first chase resulted:
"Lyke as a huntsman after weary chace,
    Seeing the game from him escapt away:
    sits downe to rest him in some shady place,
    with panting hounds beguiled of their pray,
So after long pursuit and vaine assay,"

Like that of Nissim Ezekiel's Poet, Lover and Birdwatcher, patience and integrate planning goes upper-hand in ultimate winning the game of love. As the speaker aims at overcoming his mistress's indifference and chastity, he suddenly sees that working:    
 "when I all weary had the chace forsooke,
    the gentle deare returnd the selfe-same way,
    thinking to quench her thirst at the next brooke."

The next brook is the only exit to the love-deer which she is forced to embark on but her outlook changed and submissive:
"There she beholding me with mylder looke,
    sought not to fly, but fearelesse still did bide:
    till I in hand her yet halfe trembling tooke,
    and with her owne goodwill hir fyrmely tyde."

But why there is a change? Is it a result of the chase where there is no escape? Or is it a change of the game? Or the entire game is devised by the ladylove to hunt the hunter in ultimate planning? Is chastity is a falsified game?
"Strange thing me seemed to see a beast so wyld,
    so goodly wonne with her owne will beguyld."



  1. Sir you have written amazingly well! Thabks alot.. it was a great help:)

  2. What's the theme of Amoretti Sonnet 57 and 67 ?


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