Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spenserian Sonnet

One Day I Wrote Her Name Upon the Strand

Edmund Spenser (1552–1599)

ONE day I wrote her name upon the strand,

But came the waves and washèd 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 immortalise;

For I myself shall like to this decay,

And eke my name be wipèd out likewise.

Not so (quod I); let baser things devise

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

My verse your virtues rare shall eternise,

And in the heavens write your glorious name:

Where, when as Death shall all the world subdue,

Our love shall live, and later life renew.

In this sonnet Edmund Spenser uses the appropriate rhyme scheme of, ABAB BCBC CDCD EE. In the first stanza Edmund seems to be writing about a love he had and the various places he wrote her name. However the places he wrote her name could be symbolic of something more than literally writing her name. I think him referencing to writing her name different places and it ultimately being washed away could symbolize his inner love for her, that she is not able to see or believe. Throughout the sonnet he is speaking to himself and reacting the way he believes she would by calling him "vain". She probably feels he should make his love more apparent and "immortalise" it. She continues to state that just as how the waves has washed her name away, she too will be washed away from life and he is vain for thinking that he could preserve her presence by merely writing her name/barely expressing his love. In the third stanza the narrator confesses to not believing that she will "die in dust", he thinks of her as immortal and her soul "shall live by fame"and her name shall be written immortally in the heavens. The couplet expresses the narrators affirmation that when death has overtaken everyone, their love will exist forever.

No comments: