Pastoral Poems and Sonnets
RL 2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text. RL 5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
Sonnet 30 Sonnet 75
Poetry by Edmund Spenser
Meet the Author
did you know?
Edmund Spenser . . . • worked as a servant to pay for his room and board at college. • wrote a satire that was censored because it insulted Queen Elizabeth I and other English notables.
Although Edmund Spenser was born in London and educated in England, he spent most of his life in Ireland. It was there that he wrote one of the greatest epic romances in English literature, The Faerie Queene. The poem tells the stories of six knights, each representing a particular moral virtue. Spenser was innovative in devising a new verse form, in mixing features of the Italian romance and the classical epic, and in using archaic English words. Move to Ireland In 1576, Spenser earned
been taken from an Irish rebel. Spenser’s friend Sir Walter Raleigh owned a neighboring estate. Second Marriage Spenser’s courtship of
a master’s degree from Pembroke College at Cambridge University. Three years later, he published his first important work of poetry, The Shepheardes Calender, which was immediately popular. It consisted of 12 pastoral poems, one for each month of the year. In 1580, Spenser became secretary to the lord deputy of y charged with defending Ireland, who was c from English settlers fro native Irish opposed colonization of Ireland. to England’s colon Spenser wrote the rest of his major poetry in Ireland, and that country’s Irelan landscape and people greatly a influenced his writing. Spenser held various civil Spens service posts during his years in po Ireland. In 1589, he was granted I a large estate surrounding es Kilcolman Castle, which had Kilcolma
his second wife, Elizabeth Boyle, inspired him to write a sonnet sequence (a series of related sonnets) called Amoretti, which means “little love poems.” The details and emotions presented in the sonnets are thought to be partly autobiographical. “Sonnet 30” and “Sonnet 75” are part of this sonnet sequence. To celebrate his marriage to Boyle in 1594, Spenser wrote the lyric poem Epithalamion. In 1598, just four years after Spenser’s marriage, Irish rebels overran his estate and burned his home. Spenser and his family had to flee through an underground tunnel. They escaped to Cork, and a few months later, Spenser traveled to London to deliver documents reporting on the problems in Ireland. He died shortly after his arrival in London. In honor of his great literary achievements, Spenser was buried near Geoffrey Chaucer—one of his favorite poets and a major influence—in what is now called the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. An inscription on Spenser’s monument calls him “the Prince of Poets in his time.”
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poetic form: spenserian sonnet
The Spenserian sonnet is a variation on the English sonnet, which was introduced in Britain by Sir Thomas Wyatt in the 1530s. Like the English (or Shakespearean) sonnet, the Spenserian sonnet consists of three four-line units, called quatrains, followed by two rhymed lines, called a couplet. Each quatrain addresses the poem’s central idea, thought, or question, and the couplet provides an answer or summation. What is unique to the Spenserian sonnet is the interlocking rhyme scheme (abab bcbc cdcd ee) that links the three quatrains. As you read the following Spenserian sonnets, notice the rhymes that connect one quatrain to the next, and the way in which the sonnet’s main idea is developed and resolved.
What makes your heart...
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