Spenser is very methodical in his depiction of time as it passes, both in the accurate chronological sense and in the subjective sense of time as felt by those waiting in anticipation or fear. As with most classically-inspired works, this ode begins with an invocation to the Muses to help the groom; however, in this case they are to help him awaken his bride, not create his poetic work. Then follows a growing procession of figures who attempt to bestir the bride from her bed. Once the sun has risen, the bride finally awakens and begins her procession to the bridal bower. She comes to the "temple" the sanctuary of the church wherein she is to be formally married to the groom and is wed, then a celebration ensues. Almost immediately, the groom wants everyone to leave and the day to shorten so that he may enjoy the bliss of his wedding night.
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Spenser is very methodical in his depiction of time as it passes, both in the accurate chronological sense and in the subjective sense of time as felt by those waiting in anticipation or fear. As with most classically-inspired works, this ode begins with an invocation to the Muses to help the groom; however, in this case they are to help him awaken his bride, not create his poetic work.
Then follows a growing procession of figures who attempt to bestir the bride from her bed. Once the sun has risen, the bride finally awakens and begins her procession to the bridal bower. She comes to the "temple" the sanctuary of the church wherein she is to be formally married to the groom and is wed, then a celebration ensues. Almost immediately, the groom wants everyone to leave and the day to shorten so that he may enjoy the bliss of his wedding night. Stanza 1 Summary The groom calls upon the muses to inspire him to properly sing the praises of his beloved bride.
He claims he will sing to himself, "as Orpheus did for his own bride. Unlike many poets, who called upon a single muse, Spenser here calls upon all the muses, suggesting his subject requires the full range of mythic inspiration.
Hymen, god of marriage, is already awake, and so too should the bride arise. The groom urges the muses to remind his bride that this is her wedding day, an occasion that will return her great delight for all the "paynes and sorrowes past.
If the god of marriage is ready, and the groom is ready, then he expects his bride to make herself ready as well. The focus is on the sanctity of the wedding day--this occasion itself should urge the bride to come celebrate it as early as possible.
Here it is the marriage ceremony, not the bride or the groom which determines what is urgent. Stanza 3 Summary The groom instructs the muses to summon all the nymphs they can to accompany them to the bridal chamber. If they do so, she will tread nothing but flowers on her procession from her rooms to the site of the wedding. As they adorn her doorway with flowers, their song will awaken the bride Analysis This celebration of Christian matrimony here becomes firmly entrenched in the classical mythology of the Greeks with the summoning of the nymphs.
Although Spenser will later develop the Protestant marriage ideals, he has chosen to greet the wedding day morning with the spirits of ancient paganism instead. Stanza 4 Summary Addressing the various nymphs of other natural locales, the groom asks that they tend to their specialties to make the wedding day perfect.
The nymphs who tend the ponds and lakes should make sure the water is clear and unmolested by lively fish, that they may see their own reflections in it and so best prepare themselves to be seen by the bride. The nymphs of the mountains and woods, who keep deer safe from ravening wolves, should exercise their skills in keeping these selfsame wolves away from the bride this wedding day.
Both groups are to be present to help decorate the wedding site with their beauty. Analysis Here Spenser further develops the nymph-summoning of Stanza 3.
Whether this is conventional "wedding day jitters" or a more politically-motivated concern over the problem of Irish uprisings is uncertain, but the wolves mentioned would come from the forests--the same place Irish resistance groups use to hide their movements and strike at the occupying English with impunity.
Stanza 5 Summary The groom now addresses his bride directly even if she is not present to urge her to awaken. Sunrise is long since gone and Phoebus, the sun-god, is showing "his glorious hed. Analysis The mythical figures of Rosy Dawn, Tithones, and Phoebus are here invoked to continue the classical motif of the ode. Thus far, it is indistinguishable in content from a pagan wedding-song. That the groom must address his bride directly demonstrates both his impatience and the ineffectiveness of relying on the muses and nymphs to summon forth the bride.
He urges the latter to do for his bride what they do for Venus, sing to her as they help her dress for her wedding. The "daughters of delight" are the nymphs, still urged to attend on the bride, but here Spenser introduces the personifications of time in the hours that make up Day, Night, and the seasons. He will return to this time motif later, but it is important to note that here he sees time itself participating as much in the marriage ceremony as do the nymphs and handmaids of Venus.
Stanza 7 Summary The bride is ready with her attendant virgins, so now it is time for the groomsmen and the groom himself to prepare. He then prays to Phoebus, who is both sun-god and originator of the arts, to give this one day of the year to him while keeping the rest for himself. He offers to exchange his own poetry as an offering for this great favor. Analysis The theme of light as both a sign of joy and an image of creative prowess begins to be developed here, as the groom addresses Phoebus.
Spenser refers again to his own poetry as a worthy offering to the god of poetry and the arts, which he believes has earned him the favor of having this one day belong to himself rather than to the sun-god. Stanza 8 Summary The mortal wedding guests and entertainment move into action. The minstrels play their music and sing, while women play their timbrels and dance.
Young boys run throughout the streets crying the wedding song "Hymen io Hymen, Hymen" for all to hear. Those hearing the cries applaud the boys and join in with the song. Analysis Spenser shifts to the real-world participants in the wedding ceremony, the entertainment and possible guests.
He describes a typical if lavish Elizabethan wedding complete with elements harking back to classical times. Stanza 9 Summary The groom beholds his bride approaching and compares her to Phoebe another name for Artemis, goddess of the moon clad in white "that seemes a virgin best. In modesty, she avoids the gaze of the myriad admirers and blushes at the songs of praise she is receiving.
Analysis This unusual stanza has a "missing line"-- a break after the ninth line of the stanza line He sees the bride as a perfect, even divine, counterpart to himself this day, as Day and Night are inextricably linked in the passage of time. Stanza 10 Summary The groom asks the women who see his bride if they have ever seen anyone so beautiful in their town before. He then launches into a list of all her virtues, starting with her eyes and eventually describing her whole body.
Unlike his blasons in Amoretti, this listing has no overarching connection among the various metaphors. Her eyes and forehead are described in terms of valuable items sapphires and ivory , her cheeks and lips compared to fruit apples and cherries , her breast is compared to a bolw of cream, her nipples to the buds of lilies, her neck to an ivory tower, and her whole body compared to a beautiful palace. Stanza 11 Summary The groom moves from the external beauty of the bride to her internal beauty, which he claims to see better than anyone else.
He praises her lively spirit, her sweet love, her chastity, her faith, her honor, and her modesty. He insists that could her observers see her inner beauty, they would be far more awestruck by it than they already are by her outward appearance. Spenser moves for a moment away from the emphasis on outward beauty so prominent in this ode and in pagan marriage ceremonies, turning instead to his other classical influence: Platonism. He describes the ideal woman, unsullied by fleshly weakness or stray thoughts.
Could the attendants see her true beauty--her absolute beauty--they would be astonished like those who saw "Medusaes mazeful hed" and were turned to stone. Stanza 12 Summary The groom calls for the doors to the temple to be opened that his bride may enter in and approach the altar in reverence. He offers his bride as an example for the observing maidens to follow, for she approaches this holy place with reverence and humility.
The bride enters in as a "Saynt" in the sense that she is a good Protestant Christian, and she approaches this holy place with the appropriate humility.
Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion Summary
The work begins with two sonnets in which the speaker addresses his own poetry, attempting to invest his words with the power to achieve his goal the wooing of Elizabeth Boyle. From the third sonnet through the sixty-second sonnet, the speaker is in an slmost constant state of emotional turmoil and frustrated hopes. His beloved refuses to look favorably upon his suit, so his reaction ranges from desparing self-deprecation to angry tirade against her stubbornness. He uses a variety of motifs to explicate his feelings and thoughts toward the subject of his ardor: predator and prey, wartime victor and captive, fire and ice, and hard substances that eventually soften over long periods of time.
Edmund Spenser's Epithalamion: Definition, Summary & Analysis
Petrarchan context[ edit ] The sonnets of Amoretti draw heavily on authors of the Petrarchan tradition, most obviously Torquato Tasso and Petrarch himself. Many critics, in light of what they see as his overworking of old themes, view Spenser as being a less original and important sonneteer than contemporaries such as Shakespeare and Sir Philip Sidney. However, Spenser also revised the tradition that he was drawing from. Amoretti breaks with conventional love poetry in a number of ways. In most sonnet sequences in the Petrarchan tradition, the speaker yearns for a lover who is sexually unavailable.
Ye learned sisters which have oftentimes Beene to me ayding, others to adorne: Whom ye thought worthy of your gracefull rymes, That even the greatest did not greatly scorne To heare theyr names sung in your simple layes, But joyed in theyr prayse. And when ye list your owne mishaps to mourne, Which death, or love, or fortunes wreck did rayse, Your string could soone to sadder tenor turne, And teach the woods and waters to lament Your dolefull dreriment. Now lay those sorrowfull complaints aside, And having all your heads with girland crownd, Helpe me mine owne loves prayses to resound, Ne let the same of any be envide: So Orpheus did for his owne bride, So I unto my selfe alone will sing, The woods shall to me answer and my Eccho ring. Early before the worlds light giving lampe, His golden beame upon the hils doth spred, Having disperst the nights unchearefull dampe, Doe ye awake, and with fresh lusty hed, Go to the bowre of my beloved love, My truest turtle dove, Bid her awake; for Hymen is awake, And long since ready forth his maske to move, With his bright Tead that flames with many a flake, And many a bachelor to waite on him, In theyr fresh garments trim. Bid her awake therefore and soone her dight, For lo the wished day is come at last, That shall for al the paynes and sorrowes past, Pay to her usury of long delight: And whylest she doth her dight, Doe ye to her of joy and solace sing, That all the woods may answer and your eccho ring. Bring with you all the Nymphes that you can heare Both of the rivers and the forrests greene: And of the sea that neighbours to her neare, Al with gay girlands goodly wel beseene.
Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion Summary and Analysis of Epithalamion Stanzas 1 through 12