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Amoretti- Poem Summary by Edmund Spenser

Updated: Jul 21, 2023


Work Introduction:

Amoretti – meaning ‘Little love poems’ published in 1595 consists of romantic sonnets written by Edmund Spencer in order to flatter his beloved wife Elizabeth Boyle. Spenser focused every poem on her which clearly indicates the true, passionate love he has for Elizabeth Boyle. The genuine and unconditional love portrayed in every sentence makes this collection of sonnets truly unique and heart-warming.



Work:

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,

But came the waves and washed it away:

Again I wrote it with a second hand,

But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.


"Vain man," said she, "that dost in vain assay,

A mortal thing so to immortalize;

For I myself shall like to this decay,

And eke my name be wiped out likewise."

"Not so," (quod I) "let baser things devise

To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:

My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,

And in the heavens write your glorious name:

Where whenas death shall all the world subdue,

Our love shall live, and later life renew."



WORK SUMMARY: Amoretti Poem Summary

Spencer begins the poem with words that gleam of hope. One day, he wrote his beloved Elizabeth’s name on the shore with love. But then came the waves and vanished his hope. Undeterred, he attempts a second time, hoping for a chance at redemption, but once again, the tides intervene and erase his efforts, deepening his sorrow.

His wife delivers cutting words, saying, "You are a man of no use, who does useless things," inflicting emotional pain upon him. In response, the poet contemplates departing from life itself, desiring to erase his existence entirely. Heartbroken, he implores his wife to let him abandon his selfish life and fade like dust. And his wife shall live a life filled with fame.


In the final stanza, the poet praises his wife’s ethical virtue and how her divine name will be written in heaven. He concludes his doting poem, saying, one day the world will move on from his death but his love will be eternal and be reborn.



Work Citation:

Prescott, Anne Lake. "Spenser's Shorter Poems". The Cambridge Companion to Spenser. Ed. Andrew Hadfield. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 153


~ Literpretation Team for Education

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