February 5, 2009
The Mortality of Marriage
Edmund Spenser’s “Sonnet 75” is an epithalamium regarding the mortality of marriage. The speaker acts upon his lust, flattering his lover with bribery and continuously asking her to marry him. The poem implies marriage in the third line, with the word “hand,” because it is a synecdoche to marriage. His lover responds with the statement “taking a mortal thing [marriage] so to immortalize [her name]” is senseless, because “[her] name [will] be wiped out likewise” (Spenser 6-8). Spenser’s use of alliteration, metaphor, and hyperbole illustrates the speaker’s failed attempts at love, while revealing his vanity. The speaker shows how his lover controls his emotions in the first four lines of “Sonnet 75” by stating “agayne I wrote it with a second hand, but came the tyde and made my paynes his pray” (4). Though the poem begins with “one day I wrote her name upon the strand, but came the waves and washed it away”, the speaker chooses to repeat his hurtful experience in line four once again with very similar wording (1-2). This meaningful anaphora implies that he must continue to seek for his lover’s genuine love and acceptance to marriage, overlooking what nature may have destined for them. In response, his lover states “man that doest in vaine assay, a mortal thing so to immortalize, for I myself shall lyke to this decay, and eek my name bee wyped out lykewize” (5-8). This reaction demonstrates that she does not wish to marry him because he is a vain man, and because when she dies, her name will be wiped out along with flesh. In lines nine through twelve, the speaker experiences hope as he tries a different approach to persuade his lover into marriage; flattery. The statements “you shall live by fame” and “my verse, your vertues rare shall eternize” clearly demonstrate that his intention is to bribe his lover because he insinuates that she needs him (and his praise) to...