Elizabethan Poetry Sonnets

Edmund Spenser
Wrote the Faerie Queene and Amoretti, his sonnet sequence, based on the courtship of his 2nd wife Elizabeth Boyle.

Spenserian Sonnet
Three four-line stanzas (interlocking rhyme scheme) and a couplet; this sonnet is rhymed abab bcbc cdcd ee.

Sonnet 67- like as a huntsman
By: Spenser, tale of a man’s fruitless effort in his own romantic pursuit of happiness. Only when he ceases to avidly pursue the “deer” and rest does it return to him and willingly come into his arms. Italian sonnet w/ interlocking rhyme scheme.
THEMES: nature, love, chase, courtship, true love needs to be given willingly
1-8 (octet): pursuit of deer
9-15 (seset): deer allowed him to come near
deer= Fiancée, Elizabeth Boyle, hunter=Spenser

Sonnet 75- One day I wrote her name upon the strand (beach)
By: Spenser, A person’s effort to write the mortal name of another in the sand. His efforts are mocked as nature suggests that his death will allow for his verse to be written amongst the stars in a form most immortal.
IMAGERY: name in sand: immorality and love
love remembered forever unlike her name in sand
THEMES: Immortality, love, passage of time, love is mortal, immortal love is possible through verse.

Sonnet 79- Men call you fair, and you do credit it
about how beautiful his wife is but her most attractive quality is her personality, spirit and soul.
fair- beautiful, pale, honest, true, virtuous
True beauty comes from god.

Amoretti
little Cupids. Sonnets about Elizabeth Boyle created by Edmund Spenser

Sonnet 31- with how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb’st the skies!
written by Sidney, in the Astropel & Stella series; Italian sonnet; speaking to the moon about how difficult it is to get a woman to love him. His love, Penelope does not love him back.
THEME: love
includes an apostrophe

Sonnet 39- Come, sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace
Sidney personifies sleep and begins to have a conversation with it. He is so depressed he just wants to sleep. He prays that Sleep will come and release him from his current misery. Only when he is asleep is he able to ease his suffering. He wonders what price he must pay in order to convince the god of Sleep to come to him, and he promises a “good tribute.” Smooth pillows, a comfortable bed, and a dark, quiet room are all that he desires, if only he can persuade Sleep to come. Finally, Sidney comes up with a way to convince Sleep to come to him. When he is asleep, he argues, the image of Stella will appear in his dreams, and Sleep will be able to watch. This is the greatest tribute that he can pay. includes an apostrophe

Sonnet 29- when in disgrace with fortune in men’s eyes
Shakespeare. Starts with envy of other people who are happier, more popular; Outcast; feeling down (after the London theater closed due to the plague) but thinks of his love and he feels better, his love makes him feel wealth, he wouldn’t trade places with anyone. It’s talking about the object of the speakers affection.

The Passionate Shepard to His Love
By: Christopher Marlowe.
Pastoral Literature
Shepard tries to persuade his love to live with him but he never speaks of marriage.
THEMES: Love (in a rustic setting), time will stand still, eternal summer.

Pastoral Literature
a literary work idealizing rural life, describes the simple life of country folk who live in a timeless, painless life in a world full of beauty, music and love

The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepard
By: Sir Walter Raleigh
response to Marlowe’s Passionate Shepard, Anti- Pastoral. refutes all of the arguments (stanzas) of Pass. Shep. Reality check for the Shepard, does not ignore the passage of time, acknowledges changing of seasons.

Sonnet 18- Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Shakespeare. the speaker attempts to compare his lover to a summer’s day, but shows that there can be no such comparison, since his/her timeless beauty far surpasses that of the fleeting, inconstant season. THEMES: eternal summer, love, immortality and eternal love through poetry, nature’s beauty

Sonnet 30- When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
Shakespeare. recalling memories, friend passed away, depressed, bittersweet memories. theme, that memories of the youth are priceless compensations — not only for many disappointments and unrealized hopes but for the loss of earlier friends
If everything goes wrong, think of a friend and everything is made better

Sonnet 73- that time of the year thou mayst in me behold
Shakespeare. this sonnet focuses on the narrator’s own anxiety over growing old.
THEMES: age, passing of time, coming to an end, eternal life through poetry, speaker is about to die
1st quatrain-Autumn
2nd – Twilight- the twilight of his life: his sun has set, and Death is soon upon him.
3rd – dying fire

Sonnet 116- Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Shakespeare. Speaker will not come in between true love. True love is fixed and constant. Love can’t be true if it changes for any reason. In the 6th line, a nautical reference, love is much like the north star to sailors. True love lasts forever. love is timeless, and only death can do it part.
The couplet at the end employs a paradoxical conceit. If there is no such thing as true love, the poet says that neither has he ever written, nor has anyone ever experienced true love. However, because the poem has been written, it means the poet, ultimately, is right about true love.

Sonnet 130- My Mistresses’ eyes are nothing like the sun
Shakespeare. His wife is not the most beautiful person, he critiques her throughout the poem but doesn’t seem bothered by her faults, but he still loves her. He loves a more obtainable, real woman. He satirizes traditional Elizabethan love poetry by talking about how his love is nothing as perfect as what everyone else writes about. Ironic.

sir philip sidney
Went to Oxford. Loves Penelope but she married another man. made him very depressed.