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Edmund Spenser's 


cneOievAL & ReMAissAKice 

xexTS & STuOies 

Volume 146 

Edmund Spenser's 


Kenneth J. Larsen 

(DeOieVAl. & RGMAlSSAMCe TejXTS & STuOies 

Tempe, AZ 

® Copyright 1997 
Arizona Board of Regents for Arizona State University 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Spenser, Edmund, 1552P-1599. 


Edmund Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion: a critical edition 

/ Kenneth J. Larsen. 

p. cm. — (Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies ; v. 146) 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 

ISBN 0-86698-186-1 (alk. paper) 

1. Love poetry, English-Criticism, Textual. 2. Sonnets, 
English-Criticism, Textual. 3. Marriage-Poetry. I. Larsen, Kenneth 
J. II. Spenser, Edmund, 1552?-1599. Epithalamion. III. Title. IV. 

PR2360.A5 1997 

821'.3-dc21 96-53914 



This book was produced by MRTS 

at SUNY Binghamton. 

This book is made to last. 

It is set in Goudy, 

smythe-sewn and printed on acid-free paper 

to hbrary specifications. 

Printed in the United States of America 


Introduction 1 

An Edited Text of Amoretti and Epithalamion 67 

Commentary 121 

Textual Notes 255 

Appendix 263 

Bibliography 276 

Index to the Commentary 285 

Amoretti: Index of First Lines 290 

My gratitude is due to Professor A. C. Hamilton for early encour- 
agement and later enthusiasm; to my colleagues in the English Depart- 
ment, University of Auckland; to the staff of the Folger Shakespeare 
Library for much courtesy and patience; and finally to the fourth 
Elizabeth of this sequence, my wife, and to Daniel and Alexander, all 
of whom bore the brunt. 

Formal acknowledgement is also made to the Master and Fellows of 
Trinity College Cambridge for their kind permission to reproduce 
Spenser's Amoretti, 1595: Capell * 18 f.G.3r. 


EHR = English Historical Review 

ELK = English Literary Renaissance 

ELH = English Literary History 

ES = English Studies 

JEGP = Journal of English and Germanic Philology 

/MRS = Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 

LCL = Loeb Classical Library, published by William Heinemann, 

London & Harvard Univ. Press 
MLN = Modem Language Notes 
MLQ = Modern Language Quarterly 
MLR = Modem Language Review 
MP = Modem Philology 
N&Q = Notes & Queries 
PQ = Philological Quarterly 
RQ = Renaissance Quarterly 
Ren. & Ref. = Renaissance and Reformation 
RES - Review of English Studies 
SEL = Studies in English Literature 
SPh = Studies in Philology 
SpS = Spenser Studies 

TSLL = Texas Studies in Literature and Language 
YES = Yearbook of English Studies 

The framed device, inserted by Peter Short, the master printer, 
before both Amoretti and Epithalamion in the 1595 edition. 


The volume containing Edmund Spenser's sonnet sequence and epithalami- 
on was published in 1595 by William Ponsonby in London under the title, 
''Amoretti and Epithalamion. Written not long since by Edmunde Spenser." Of 
the two larger works in the volume — it comprises a sequence of eighty-nine 
sonnets, some short intervening anacreontic verses, and an epithalamium — 
Epithalamion has customarily received the greater acknowledgement, al- 
though recent work on the sonnet sequence, Amoretti, by Dunlop, Johnson, 
and Gibbs,' has gone some way towards redressing the balance. The discov- 
eries presented in the following pages, concerning Amoretti in particular, are 
exciting both for the insight they provide into Spenser's compositional 
habits and for the way they present the sonnets in a more intimate light, 
showing them to be expressive of a range of mood: frequently delicate and 
tender, often daring, sometimes risque. 

Spenser's reputation was already secure prior to the publication of the 
volume. Much of his poetry had already been published, although the 
second installment of The Faerie Queene did not appear until the following 
year, and only Prothalamion and the final two hymns of the Fowre Hymnes 
are of probable later composition. Since this edition will show that the 
sonnets comprising Amoretti were written for consecutive dates which fell 
during the first half of 1594, the volume can only be the work of a mature 
poet, whom an aside in Amoretti, "then al those fourty which my life 
outwent,"^ suggests was in his early forties. 

' Alexander Dunlop, "Introduction to Amoretti and Epithalamion," in William A. Oram 
et al., eds., The Yale Edition of the Shorter Poems of Edmund Spemer (New Haven: Yale 
Univ. Press, 1989), 583-97; William C. Johnson, Spenser's Amoretti: Analogies of Love 
(Lewisburg: Bucknell Univ. Press, 1990); Donna Gibbs, Spenser's Amoretti. A Critical Study 
(Aldershot, Hants.: Scolar Press, 1990). 

^ Am. 60.8. For Spenser's works, apart from Amoretti ar\d Epithalamion, the text 
throughout is Spenser, Poetical Works, eds. J. C. Smith and E. de Selincourt (Oxford: 
Oxford Univ. Press, 1969). Amoretti, requiring a singular verb, has been used as a title of 


In writing a sonnet sequence Spenser was observing a Renaissance 
convention which had grown popular in England during the prior decade. 
Thomas Watson's Hecatompathia had appeared in 1582 and had been 
followed by among others John Southern's Pandora (1584), Samuel Daniel's 
Delia (1592), Barnabe Barnes's Parthenophil and Parthenophe (1593), Thomas 
Lodge's Phillis (1593), Giles Fletcher the Elder's Ucia (1593), Michael 
Drayton's Ideas Mirrour (1594), Henry Constable's Diana (1594), and 
William Percy's Coelia (1594), while the anonymous Zepheria had also 
appeared in 1594 and Spenser, in Amoretti 8, shows some knowledge of 
Fulke Greville's Caelica 3, even though Caelica was published later. 

Petrarch's Rime had established the mode in which poems employ a 
number of what were to become conventional topoi, all of which in their 
discrete way explain the poet's difficulties in the face of various facets of 
love. In Amoretti Spenser often uses the established topoi, for his sequence 
imitates in its own way the traditions of Petrarchan courtship and its 
associated Neo-Platonic conceits. His debt to Petrarchist exempla and to the 
unifying tendencies of continental philosophies is always clear. Yet sugges- 
tions of his continental predecessors, Tasso, Ariosto, du Bellay, Desportes, 
Marot, Cazza, and Serafino, would have been more evident in Amoretti to 
his contemporaries than they are to the modern reader. Spenser seldom 
imbues a sonnet with a clear Neo-Platonic cast (Amoretti 45 and 88 are 
possible exceptions) and generally accepts Neo-Platonic doctrines as conceits 
to be exploited. His essentially syncretic cast of mind shapes these conceits 
as non-specific rather than explicit imitations. 

Epithalamion is a poem which gives a ritualized and public effect to the 
personal on a number of levels, cosmographical, mythological, publicly 
prayerful and euchological. As arguably the first epithalamium in English it 
set a precedent; its sources are principally classical, for Spenser imitates the 
detail of the epithalamia of Statius and Claudian as well as the epithalamial 
hymns of Catullus. It also shows a familiarity with the epithalamia of 
Spenser's immediate French predecessors, Marc-Claude Buttet and Remy 
Belleau. But Spenser, who married Elizabeth Boyle on 11 June 1594,^ 
moves apart from his predecessors by proposing in Epithalamion that a reso- 
lution to the sonneteer's conventional preoccupations with love may be 
found within the bounds of Christian marriage. The poem's recognition that 
the tension which had occurred in earlier amoretti between the physical and 
spiritual dimensions of love can be solved in matrimony is an argument for 

the whole sequence, while amoretti has been used to describe the sonnets as individual 
units, but always in the plural. 

' For the date of Spenser's marriage, sec A. C. Judson, The Life of Edmund Spenser 
(Baltimore, 1945), 166. 


the volume as a whole to be considered an integrated work. It also affords 
the work a strong Protestant character, because it reflects the doctrine that 
Spenser's Protestant contemporaries were developing, that the covenant of 
marriage, itself of the spiritual realm, was sealed and made manifest by 
physical consummation. It is to this doctrine that the later amoretti and the 
Epithalamion constantly return. 

William Ponsonby, the volume's publisher, in his "Epistle Dedicatory" 
describes the amoretti as "sweete conceited Sonets," an appellation not 
unlike that ascribed to Shakespeare's sonnets by Meres, "sugred Sonnets." 
Shakespeare's sonnets have subsequently been seen with all their diversity 
and riches to have loosed themselves from the description. In this edition, 
it is hoped, Spenser's will be similarly delivered through the discovery that 
the eighty-nine sonnets are shaped as an artifact modeled after the liturgy. 
The detail provided by this edition's annotations confirms not only the im- 
portance of structure to the Renaissance sonnet sequence in general and the 
English in particular, but also the multi-faceted — and not exclusively poetic — 
nature of those structures. The findings also lay the groundwork for further 
understandings of Spenser's poetry: his wit is revealed in the following pages 
as one of elegant erudition, which enjoyed those etymological and scriptural 
puns and pleonasms most becoming of an educated Renaissance mind. 

I. Sources 

A. Liturgical 

The eighty-nine sonnets of the Amoretti, as numbered in the 1595 octavo 
edition, were written to correspond with consecutive dates, beginning on 
Wednesday 23 January 1594 and running, with one interval, through to 
Friday 17 May 1594: they correspond with the daily and sequential order of 
scriptural readings that are prescribed for those dates by the liturgical 
calendar of the Church of England. Their conceits, themes, ideas, imagery, 
words, and sometimes their rhetorical structure consistently and successively 
match like particulars in these daily readings. Consequently the final 
structure of Amoretti and Epithalamion has been shaped by Spenser as a 
liturgico-poetic artifact.^ 

The generally accepted date of Spenser's marriage to Elizabeth Boyle on 
11 June 1594, the feast of St. Barnabas, implies a final date for the comple- 

* Anne Lake Prescott, in 'The Thirsty Deer and the Lord of Life: Some Contexts for 
Amoretti 67-70," SpS 6 (1985): 58, has suggested that the presenting of calendrico-poetic 
sequences as gifts to women was not without precedent and cites as earlier examples du 
Bellay's Olive with its early Nativity poem and late Good Friday poem, and Giles Fletcher's 
Ucia with its fifty-two sonnets and its 366 'days.' 


tion of the work and suggests that the volume's inscription, ^ ^Written not 
long since,'^ should be accepted as factual. It is reasonable to assume that the 
volume's manuscript had been forwarded to England from Ireland on the 
same ship as Sir Robert Needham, who had departed for England on 25 
September 1594; in his dedicatory letter to Needham, William Ponsonby, 
the volume's publisher, alludes to the manuscript "crossing the Seas in your 
happy companye." The volume was entered in the Stationers' Register on 
15 November 1594. 

Within the sequence the forty-six sonnets between Amoretti 22, with its 
reference to Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent ("This holy season fit 
to fast and pray"), and Amoretti 68, which celebrates Easter Sunday ("Most 
glorious Lord of lyfe that on this day, / Didst make thy triumph ouer death 
and sin"), suggest themselves as sonnets corresponding to the forty-six 
Lenten days which intervene between the two days. Dunlop, and particular- 
ly Johnson,^ have already proposed that the key to locating the year with 
which the sequence corresponds lies with another sonnet within the forty- 
six, Amoretti 62, in which Spenser refers to the beginning of the year, "The 
weary yeare his race now hauing run, / The new begins his compast course 
anew." Since Amoretti 68, six sonnets later, is the Easter sonnet, then any 
year with which the sequence might correspond needs to be a year when 
Easter Day fell on 31 March, six days after 25 March, the beginning of the 
ecclesiastical year according to the old style calendar.^ 1594 — the year of 
Spenser's marriage and of the registration of the work— was the only year 
close to the time of composition when this occurred.^ The amoretti, evi- 
dently, were written for the period leading up to Spenser's marriage on 1 1 
June 1594, including the season of Lent. Moreover, if Amoretti 22 was 
written for 13 February 1594, the date on which Ash Wednesday fell in 
1594, then Amoretti 23 might be ascribed to the Thursday following Ash 
Wednesday, 14 February 1594, Amoretti 24 to Friday 15 February 1594, and 
so on until Amoretti 68, Easter Sunday, 31 March 1594. Likewise, the 

' Alexander Dunlop, "Calendar Symbolism in the Amoretti," N 6? Q 214 (1969): 24- 
26, and William C. Johnson, "Spenser's Amoretti and the Art of the Liturgy," SEL 14 
(1974): 47-61. 

* Book of Common Prayer (London, 1572), Ciii*', "Note that the supputation of the 
yccre of our Lordc, in the Churche of Englandc, beginneth the .xxv. day ofMarche, the 
same day supposed to be the first day vpon whichc the worlde was created, and the day 
when Christe was conceyued in the wombe of the virgine Marie." 

^ The only other year when Easter Sunday fell on 31 March during Spenser's life was 
1583. But the sequence's references to the already composed "six books" of The Faerie 
Queene (Am. 80.2) and to Elizabeth his betrothed (Am. 74.9-12) discount 1583 as a year 
of pouible composition. 


sonnets preceding Amoretti 22 might be ascribed earlier consecutive dates, 
and those following Amoretti 68 subsequent consecutive dates, 

Johnson also proposed that each seventh sonnet, beginning with Amor- 
etti 26 (Am. 26, 33, 40, 47, 54, 61) and concluding with Amoretti 68, 
corresponds with a Lenten Sunday and found parallels between the Epistles 
and Gospels of these days and corresponding sonnets. Sometimes he is 
correct; for example, he rightly sees the light motif in Amoretti 40, which 
coincides with the Third Sunday of Lent, 3 March in 1594, as echoing the 
day's Epistle, Ephesians 5.1-15. Sometimes his proposed connections are 
more tenuous; for example, he sees a parallel between the Collect of the 
Fifth Sunday of Lent, "We beseech thee almighty God, mercifully to look 
vpon thy people," and the opening of Amoretti 54, "Of this worlds Theatre 
in which we stay, / My loue lyke the Spectator ydly sits." The connection 
is slight, particularly since it is of the nature of nearly all Collects to ask 
God to ''look vpon thy people.'' Furthermore, Johnson's claim that the 
Sunday sonnets differ from the weekday sonnets, and are marked by a 
respite from the poet's weekday troubles, is not borne out by close scrutiny. 

Such calendrical and liturgical proposals are, however, totally dependent 
on the coincidence in 1594 of 25 March being the beginning of the ecclesi- 
astical year and occurring some six days before Easter Sunday. Linking the 
amoretti to the Sundays' Epistles and Gospels, as Johnson proposed, is like- 
wise dependent upon the same coincidence because the Sundays and feasts 
of the liturgical year are not secured to a particular date. The date of 25 
March as the beginning of the ecclesiastical year was, in fact, contested by 
Bennett and Kaske.^ However, the key to establishing definitely the year 
and days for which the sonnets were composed lies with other series of 
scripture readings that were appointed to be read on the days of 1594 by the 
Book of Common Prayer. 

The calendar of the Book of Common Prayer appointed for each day a 
series of readings and psalms, the combination of which provided each year 
with its own distinctive interlocking grid of readings. The grid comprised 

* Josephine Waters Bennett, "Spenser's Amoretti IXll and the Date of the New Year," 
RQ 26 (1973): 433-36, and Carol V. Kaske, "Spenser's Amoretti and Epithcdamion of 1595: 
Structure, Genre, Numerology," ELR 8 (1978): 294: "March 25 does not begin the 
liturgical year, as Dunlop asserts; the first Sunday in Advent does." In rebuttal see substan- 
tive evidence adduced by A. Kent Hieatt, "A Numerical Key to Spenser's Amoretti and 
Guyon in the House of Mammon," YES 3 (1973): 19, where he cites a number of 
authorities: Reginald Lane Poole, Medieval Reckoning of Time (London, 1921), and "The 
Beginning of the Year in the Middle Ages," Proceedings of the British Academy 10 (1921): 
113-37; A. F. Pollard, "New Year's Day and Leap Year in English History," EHR 55 
(1940): 177-93; Christopher R. Cheney, Handbook of Dates for Students of Engiis/i History 
(London, 1945). 


three cycles. The ferial cycle was the basic cycle: it followed the calendar 
year beginning on 1 January and provided lessons at morning and evening 
prayer. It also provided each office with its proper psalms: the psalter was 
divided up so that the 150 psalms were read consecutively throughout a 
monthly cycle of thirty days, each day being appointed its proper psalms at 
both morning and evening prayer, with further rules governing the unequal 
length of months.^ (There were special proper psalms for both Easter 
Sunday and Ascension Thursday.) The temporal cycle followed the church's 
liturgical seasons. Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, 
and Time after Trinity. The major liturgical feasts of the temporal cycle had 
both an Epistle and a Gospel for the Communion Service and special 
lessons at morning and evening prayer, which took precedence over those 
provided by the ferial cycle. The ordinary Sundays of the temporal cycle had 
their own Epistle and Gospel, but took their lessons at morning and evening 
prayer from the ferial cycle. The third cycle, the festive, comprised those 
feast days, such as the Conversion of St. Paul (25 January) or the Annuncia- 
tion (25 March), which were not attached to the church's liturgical seasons 
and which fell on the same date each year. These feast days had their own 
Epistle and Gospel and generally, but not always, special lessons at morning 
and evening prayer, which also took precedence over the ferial lessons. 
Whenever they had no special lessons of their own, they took their lessons 
from the ferial cycle. 

The scriptural selections used on a particular day could, therefore, derive 
from several sources: from the Epistle or Gospel if a day were a Sunday or 
feast day, from a day's proper psalms and from its two lessons at morning 
prayer and two lessons at evening prayer. In fact, Spenser, though infre- 
quently making his sonnet correspond to a day's first lesson at either 
morning or evening prayer, which were always Old Testament readings, has 
usually matched them either with the daily psalms or the New Testament 
readings, whether they be the Epistle — on all but two occasions a New 

' The booke of Common prayer (London, 1578), aii: "And because lanuarie and March 
hathe one daye aboue the said number, and Februarie which is placed betwene them 
bothe, hathe only .xxviii. dayes: Februarie shal borrowe of either of the monthes (of 
lanuarie and March) one daye. And so the Psalter which shalbe read in Februarie, must 
begin the last daye of lanuarie, and ende the first daye of March. And whereas May, luly, 
August, October, and December, have .xxxi. dayes apiece: it is ordered that the same 
Psalmes shalbe read the last daye of the said Monthes which were read the daye before." 
Such a complicated system sometimes lead to slight mistakes. The psalms prescribed in the 
calendar preceding the 1572 Bishops* Bible, for example, mistakenly observed the rule laid 
down for all months other than January, and appointed a repeated Day 30 to 31 January, 
and Spenser, as I show later, has apparently followed this mistake. The 1572 calendar did, 
however, give 1 February its correct Day 2. 


Testament reading — or the Gospel from the Communion Service, or the 
second lesson at morning or evening prayer. 

For the ferial cycle these second lessons were always a chapter from the 
New Testament, which ran continuously throughout the year and fell on 
the same date each year. The second lesson at morning prayer on 2 January 
was Matthew, Chapter 1, on 3 January was Matthew 2, on 4 January was 
Matthew 3, and so on, until all four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles 
were exhausted. Matthew started again with Chapter 1 on 3 May and a 
third series started on 31 August. Similarly, the chapters of the New 
Testament Epistles comprised the daily readings for the second lesson at 
evening prayer. It is the dovetailing of the daily psalms and lessons from the 
ferial cycle with the further readings from the temporal and festive cycles 
which provides each year with its individual pattern of readings. Obviously 
the Epistle and Gospel for a particular Sunday or feast day are the same 
whatever the year, but the proper psalms and second lessons at morning or 
evening prayer for a Sunday depend on the date upon which the Sunday 
falls. Psalms 9-11 and Luke 14 will be read on the Third Sunday in Lent 
and will be associated with the Sunday's Epistle, Ephesians 5.1-15, only in 
1594, because only in 1594 does the Third Sunday in Lent fall on 10 March 
for which date they are the proper psalms and the second lesson at morning 
prayer. It is this arrangement of prescribed lessons and psalms at morning 
and evening prayer for the year 1594, together with the Epistles and Gos- 
pels of the Sundays and feast days, which provides consecutive topical and 
imagistic correspondences for nearly all the amoretti and confirms 1594 as 
the year for which they were composed. (A table of the scripture readings 
and lessons prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer for the period in 1594 
with which the sonnets correspond is given in the Appendix.) 

The sonnets preceding Amoretti 22, the Ash Wednesday sonnet, begin 
with Amoretti 1 for Wednesday 23 January 1594, the beginning of Hilary 
Term,'° whose name can be discerned in the sonnet's threefold repetition 
of its opening "Happy," and whose phrase, "hands . . . shall handle," 
echoes closely 23 January's evening prayer Psalm 115.7, "They haue handes 
and handle not."" Amoretti 3 corresponds to 25 January, the feast of the 

'° The booke of Common prayer (1578), aiii: "Hillarie Terme beginneth the .xxiii. or 
.xxiv. day of lanuari [sic], and endeth the .xii. or .xiii. day of Februarie." Spenser, who in 
1594 sat in the County of Cork as a Justice of the Queen, would have been conscious of 
the dates of the Terms. 

" There exists another, slightly halting, version of Am. 1 (cf. Israel Gollancz, 
"Spenseriana," Proceedings of the British Academy [1907-8]: 99-102). The corresp)ondence 
between the day's psalm verse and Am. 1, however, disallows the claim, asserted by 
Gollancz with hesitant support from Judson, that the variants between the two versions are 

8 Introduction 

Conversion of St. Paul, and subsequent sonnets coincide with the weeks of 
Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, the Sundays preceding Ash 
Wednesday, with which Amoretti 5,12, and 19 correspond and whose dates 
in 1594 were 28 January, 3 February and 10 February. The first twenty-one 
sonnets can thus be awarded the twenty-one days of Hilary Term, whose 
conclusion, Tuesday 12 February, fitted exactly in 1594 with the beginning 
of Lent, Wednesday 13 February. The sonnets reflect either the daily psalms 
or the scriptural readings of the second lessons at morning or evening prayer 
of the ferial cycle, although, when a Sunday or midweek feast day occurs, 
Spenser often reflects its Epistle or Gospel in his corresponding sonnet. ^^ 

probably sufficient to confirm that the mauscript is an earlier version of Am. 1. The 
version is certainly not an autograph of Am. 1, as GoUancz asserts, see A. Judson, 
"Amoretti, Sonnet I," MLN 58 (1943): 548-50. 

'^ Amoretti contains a number of initially incompatible references to the calendar year 
or to seasonal occurences. Am. 4 makes reference to the "New yeare." Am. 19 refers to 
spring as does Am. 70. Am. 62 is concerned with the new year and Am. 23 and 60 with 
the year past. Finally Am. 76 refers to May. All these references can be reconciled, in the 
cases of Am. 19 and 70 the solutions being neat. 

Am. 4 opens, "New yeare forth looking out of lanus gate," a line that implies on first 
reading the beginning of the year. Yet the sonnet could as equally celebrate the month of 
January as the beginning of January and its phrase "his passed date" (3), if it is a reference 
back to "New Yeare" (1), is a temporal referent looking back to 1 January. In fact details 
of the sonnet correspond to the 26 January's second lesson at evening prayer, 1 Cor. 7, in 
a way that brings out one of the most delightful jokes in all the amoretti. 

Am. 19's opening reference to spring, "The merry Cuckow, messenger of Spring, / His 
trompet shrill hath thrise already sounded," observes the Book of Common Prayer's calendar 
in an unmistakable manner. In most sixteenth century editions of the Book of Commor\ 
Prayer a series of footnotes is appended to the calendar; attached to 8 February is the 
footnote: "As vpon this day, the Romanes began their spring, after Plinie." Spenser has 
observed the calendar's instruction and included it in the sonnet he has written for the 
subsequent third day. On 10 February the cuckoo has already thrice sounded the coming 
of spring (the sonnet also reflects other scriptural features causing it to celebrate a 
subsequent third day). 

Am. 62 commemorates the beginning of the new year on 25 March. But in contrasting 
the old and new year it has also observed the day's scriptural and liturgical topos of the 
Monday before Easter, because the day's Epistle, Isa. 63, which was read on 25 March only 
in 1594, celebrated the old year past and the new year to come, Isaiah proclaiming, "the 
yere of my redemed is come" (v. 4), and continuing to contrast the "olde time" with the 
present days. Nor do the allusions to the past year in Am. 23, "and with one word my 
whole years work doth rend" (12), and in Am. 60, need be reconciled or construed lit- 
erally, for they merely state that Spenser's love, not the amoretti, has now run the course 
of a year: "So since the winged God his planet cleare, / began in me to moue, one yeare 
is spent." Am. 70*8 opening, "Fresh spring the herald of loucs mighty king," is an 
appropriate conceit for 2 April 1594, on which date was celebrated the feast of the 
Annunciation, transposed from 25 March, as well as Easter Tuesday, both of which in 
differing ways celebrate the rising of a new nature and birth to new life. The sonnet's 
theme of carpe diem matches precisely the special lessons prescribed for the Annunciation. 
The day was also the first available in April on which to commemorate spring's coming, 
because 1 April, being Easter Monday, required another type of sonnet. Lastly, the tcm- 


The sequence of correspondences continues to run with minor excep- 
tions through the weeks of Lent, through the days of Easter Week, arriving 
finally at Low Sunday, in 1594, Sunday 7 April.'^ However, Amoretti 75, 

poral reference in Am. 76, "like early fruit in May," a departure from Tasso's "Nel dolce 
april," has been made to make the sonnet specifically correspond to a date in early May. 

'^ Within the sequence two small groups of amoretti are not related to a day's psalms 
or scriptures readings, which suggests Spenser's absence from home and customary 
scriptural resources. (Such absence is impossible to confirm, the only two pieces of bio- 
graphical data available for 1594 being the days 23 May and 16 September, when Spenser 
was sitting at Mallow as Justice of the Queen for the country of Cork, and neither date 
falls within the compass of the amoretti [Henry F. Berry, "The English Settlement in 
Mallow," ]ourr\d of the Cknk Historical and Archaeobgical Society 2nd Series, 12 (1906): 2]. 
Most bibles, particularly the frequent large folio editions, were not meant to be carried 

Am. 28-33, the first group, bear no resemblance to the coincident scripture readings 
for the days, Tuesday 19 February to Sunday 24 February. Instead, Spenser has written a 
series of sonnets which are broadly reminiscent of continental exempla, which suggests that, 
having no Bible to consult, he composed a range of sonnets which work standard Petrarch- 
ist conceits in unspecific ways: Am. 30 works the ice/fire topos, Am. 28, the "laurell," Am. 
29, the "bay," while Am. 32 opens, "The payneful smith." In Am. 33, Spenser apologizes 
to his friend, Ludowick Bryskett, for not having finished The Faerie Queer\e, but the son- 
net's autobiographical realism suggests the possible companionship and hospitality of Brys- 
kett and infers Spenser's temporary absence from home and Bible during the preceding days. 

Friday 15 March and Saturday 16 March is a further period when sonnets are not 
related to a scriptural source. Am. 53 is constructed around the image of the "Panther." 
Am. 52 makes absence explicit: its lines, "from presence of my dearest deare exylde," and 
"So I her absens will my penaunce make," suggest separation and travel. 

Three further sonnets also seem initially to lack a relationship with a corresponding 
day's scriptural readings, although close examination reveals their resemblances. Am. 2 
bears no relationship with Matt. 22, the second lesson at morning prayer for Thursday 24 
January, with which Am. 2 corresponds. It does, however, exhibit particularly striking 
correspondences with Matt. 23, which suggests that Spenser has mistakenly read the wrong 
chapter. His confusion may be explained by one of the few errors in the Boole of Common 
Prayer calendar, because the entry which should read Matt. 23 was frequently absent, being 
replaced by Matt. 13. 

A like case occurs with Am. 9, the elements of whose expeditio exactly imitate the 
detail of Pss. 147 and 148. These psalms were not correctly psalms read at evening prayer 
for Thursday 31 January with which the sonnet corresponds. Since, however, the calendar 
of the Book of Common Prayer sometimes, erroneously, prescribed for 31 January a repe- 
tition of the psalms for Day 30 (Pss. 144-46 and 147-50), the prescription for all other 
months of 31 days, Spenser has apparently either made a mistake or followed a mistaken 

Am. 8 poses a peculiar problem because what appear to be three (and part of a fourth) 
earlier versions of it exist in manuscript. Its first three lines are virtually identical to the 
first three of Fulke Greville's Caelica 3, while its Surreyan form distinguishes it from all 
other sonnets in the sequence. Yet the revisions to the prior versions that Spenser has 
made for the final published version locate it firmly within the grid of daily scriptural 
correspondences. The beginning of the final couplet, for example, which in all manuscript 
versions had been variable and never satisfactorily rendered, has been newly cast as, "Dark 
is the world." The recasting enables the sonnet to correspxjnd with the detail provided by 

10 Introduction 

the sonnet for Low Sunday, is the last day of the run of sonnets that can be 
ascribed a definite correspondence. The remaining sonnets, Amoretti 76-89, 
betray no verbal or topical correspondences with any of the proper psalms 
or second lessons for the days immediately subsequent to Low Sunday, or 
the Epistles or Gospels for the following Sundays. 

Evidently Spenser's early intention was to bring the sequence of sonnets 
to a conclusion with Amoretti 75. His intention to observe a liturgical 
framework in the sequence would have been nicely rounded off with a son- 
net that corresponds with the Sunday which brings the Easter festivities to 
completion. Low Sunday, the octave of Easter Sunday, eight days after the 
feast, known also as Dominica in albis [depositis], technically concludes the 
Easter ceremonies and celebrates the neophytes finally discarding the white 
garments in which they had been baptized at Easter. Amoretti 75 reflects the 
baptismal associations of the day with its topoi of water, washing, naming 
and eternal life, and acknowledges that the lady's name will be inscribed 
immortally in the heavens through the poet's verses, "you shall Hue by 
fame: / my verse your vertues rare shall eternize, / and in the heuens wryte 
your glorious name" (10-12). The poet's concluding intent is intertwined in 
the sonnet with the strongest echoes in the sequence of the concluding 
lines to Ovid's Metamorphoses (15.871-79), in which Ovid prophetically 
intimates the gaining of his own immortality through verse. (An allusion to 
Ovid's lines is also used as the emblem with which E. K. brings The Shep- 
heardes Calendar to conclusion.) Spenser's claim that the lady "shall liue by 
fame" eternally (9) imitates Ovid's identical claim, "perque omnia saecula 
fama . . . vivam" — even if the earthly body is subject to death. As the lady's 
name will not be "wyped out" (8), nor can Ovid's, for it is indelible, 
"nomenque erit indelibile nostrum." Both names will be written eternally 
in the heavens "super alta perennis astra"; finally Spenser's concluding 
couplet, "whenas death shall all the world subdew," is a direct rendering of 
Ovid's "domitis terris" (= the subdued world). 

The Ovidian echoes confirm that Spenser was here imitating the locus 
classicus of poetic conclusions and his final lines asserting that the betrothed 
will finally enjoy a marriage in heaven ("and later life renew" 114]) is an 
appropriate conclusion for a period of betrothal in which marriage is seen as 
persisting in the world to come. 

However, Spenser changed his mind and decided to append another 
fourteen sonnets to his sequence after Amoretti 75. He began composing 
sonnets again for the days subsequent to 3 May and leading up to'the Vigil 

Matt. 27, the second lesson at morning prayer for Wednesday 30 January, the account of 
the crucifixion when there was "darlcenes ouer all the land" (v. 45). 

Introduction 11 

of Pentecost, 19 May. He was moved to do this partly because 3 May stands 
out in the liturgical calendar as a fresh beginning: on that day a new cycle 
of second lessons at morning prayer commences with Matthew 1. It is a 
characteristic of these later sonnets that their indebtedness to the days* 
readings is more pronounced than in the preceding section of Amoretti. 
Amoretti 76 exhibits oblique references to the Annunciation of Matthew 1 
("the sacred harbour of that heuenly spright" 14]), and contains an apposite 
temporal referent, "like early fruit in May" — a specific departure, already 
noted by Lever,''* from the original "Nel dolce april" of Tasso's "Non son 
SI belli i fiori onde natura." The two weeks following Friday 3 May contain 
the feast of the Ascension, Thursday 9 May 1594, when the scriptures 
recount Christ was "lifted vp on high." Amoretti 82, written for the feast, 
is loaded with allusions to the Ascension, including an appropriate final 
couplet: "Whose lofty argument vplifting me, / shall lift you vp vnto an 
high degree." Likewise the Sunday between the Ascension and Pentecost, 
Sunday 12 May, through its second lesson at morning prayer, Romans 11, 
which contains the principal scriptural account of the doctrine of election, 
is characterized in 1594 by its celebration of 'election.' Amoretti 84, which 
corresponds with the Sunday, concludes, "Onely behold her rare perfection, 
/ and blesse your fortunes fayre election," one of only two occasions when 
Spenser uses the word and the only time in Amoretti. 

The final three sonnets of Amoretti, 87-89, are marked by their sense of 
absence, their comfortlessness, and their "expectation," Amoretti 87 opens 
its sestet with the line, "Thus I the time with expectation spend." Amoretti 
88 opens with a reference to comfort and light, "Since I haue lackt the 
comfort of that light," and Amoretti 89 opens with the simile of the dove, 
"Lyke as the Culuer," which it later repeats, and also contains a reference 
to comfort. The references can be read as liturgical and as alluding to 
'Expectation Week,' which are those days between Ascension and Whit 
Sunday, when the disciples were in earnest expectation of the Comfort- 
er,'^ while the repeated allusions to "comfort" anticipate the coming of 
the Comforter as light at Pentecost, and the dove is the bird associated with 
the Holy Spirit. These liturgical cues confirm that the three concluding 
Amoretti 87, 88, and 89 correspond respectively to Wednesday 15, Thursday 
16, and Friday 17 May, the days immediately preceding the Vigil of Pente- 
cost, which in 1594 fell on Sunday 19 May. Furthermore the days immedi- 

'^ J. W. Lever, The Elizabethan Love Sonnet (London: Methuen, 1956), 110. 

" Anthony Sparrow, A Rationale upon the Book of Common Prayer (London, 1655), 170, 
"This is called Expectation-week; for now the Apostles were earnestly expecting the ful- 
filling of that promise of our Lord, If I go away, I will send the Comforter to you, S. John 

12 Introduction 

ately prior to Ascension Thursday are Rogation Days, beginning with 
Rogation Sunday 5 May, and continuing through Rogation Monday, 
Tuesday, and Wednesday. As the next series of penitential days after Lent, 
their celebration would have confirmed Spenser in his resolve to write these 
added fourteen sonnets.'^ 

In appending the extra sonnets Spenser had the overall structure of the 
Amoretti in mind. The restructuring that ensued by the inclusion of a 
further fourteen sonnets makes, for example, Amoretti 45, the mirror sonnet, 
the middle sonnet of the sequence. As well, as Dunlop and Fowler have 
pointed out,''' the twenty-one sonnets that precede the Ash Wednesday 
sonnet, Amoretti 22, which introduces the sonnets of the Lenten period, are 
now matched by a further twenty-one sonnets after Amoretti 68, the Easter 
Sunday sonnet which concludes Lent. Such uniformity and matching detail 
clearly appealed to Spenser's mind which would have delighted in the 
precision attained. 

The extra sonnets also cause the sequence to move closer to the eucho- 
logical design that Spenser ultimately intended for it. The final three 
amoretti acknowledge both the poet's darkness and his hope. The betroth- 
eds' awaiting parallels the Christian awaiting of the Holy Spirit who comes 
at Pentecost not only to comfort and provide light, but also to seal the 
covenant founded by Christ at the Easter triduum. The way the fourteen 

'^ The fourteen additional sonnets contain a further small group of sonnets, Am. 80- 
83, which reveal no relationship with the corresponding daily scripture readings for 
Tuesday 7 May to Saturday 11 May. Am. 80 is an autobiographical sonnet; Am. 81 is a 
translation from Tasso; Am. 82 is the sonnet for the Ascension and Am. 83 is a repetition 
of Am. 35. That Spenser may not have had the scriptures available to him is confirmed by 
a peculiar feature of Am. 82. The sonnet corresponds to the detail not of the ascension 
account in the feast's Epistle, Acts 1.1-12, nor of the account in its Gospel, Mark 16.14- 
20, but extensively to that found in the scripture's third ascension account, Luke 24.49- 
53, not a reading for the day, but an account which Spenser seemingly has recalled from 
memory. On such occasions, when the scriptures may not have been available to him, 
Spenser seems to have felt inclined to revert to autobiography. Am. 33 and 80 being cases 
in point. 

The appended sonnets also contain one small lacuna. Friday 10 May and Saturday 1 1 
May lack a correspjonding sonnet. Am. 82 is quite clearly written for Ascension Thursday 
9 May; Am. 84*8 theme of election equally corresf)onds to the Sunday after the Ascension, 
Sunday 12 May. But the two intervening days have only Am. 83, a repetition of Am. 35. 
This is the only instance in the entire sequence where a day lacks a corresponding sonnet, 
and it coincides with the only occasion in the sequence when Spenser repeats a sonnet, 
although what conclusions are to be drawn from the lacuna and duplication remain 

'^ Alastair Fowler, Triumphal Forms. Structural Patterns in Elizabeth Poetry, (Cambridge: 
Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970) 180-83; Dunlop (1969), 24-26 and 'The Unity of Spenser's 
Amoretti," in Alastair Fowler, cd., Silent Poetry (London: Routlcdge and Kegan Paul, 1970), 

Introduction 13 

appended sonnets thus reshape the Amoretti, as well as prepare the way for 
Epithalamion, are explained later in the introduction. 

The extensive correspondences between the sonnets and the daily 
scripture readings and psalms indicate that Spenser observed the widely 
recommended devotional practice of privately reading the Book of Common 
Prayer s daily offices. The Prologue to the Bible exhorted that "when ye be 
at home in your houses, ye apply your selues from tyme to tyme to the 
readyng of holy scriptures," while the preface to the Book of Common Prayer 
advised "menne" without distinction to "saye Morning and Evening prayre 
priuatelie," but bound only priests and deacons, laying down that "al Priests 
and Decons shall be bounde to saye dailie the Morning and Evening prayre, 
either priuatelie or openlie."'® That Spenser was familiar with daily offices 
is corroborated by a small piece of biographical evidence. William Ponson- 
by, in his preface to the 1591 edition of Spenser's Complaints, included an 
advertisement for further unpublished work of Spenser including "The 
howers of the Lord.'^^'^ The allusion can only refer to the popular devotional 
manuals, the primers, that were a feature of pre-reformation spirituality, and 
which continued to be published throughout the sixteenth century.^*^ 
Ponsonby confirms that he intends such a Book of Hours by linking it to 
"T/ieseuen Psalmes," the seven penitential psalms, which were customarily 

" Protestant devotional manuals went as far as they could without naming the Book 
of Common Prayer in advising its methodical approach to reading and praying. Robert 
Cleaver (A Godlie Forme of Householde Gouemment [London, 15921, 47) counsels that the 
duty of the householder to the members of his house lies in "acquainting them with the 
Scriptures, by reading them dayly in thy house, in their hearing, and directing them to 
marke, and make vse of those things which are plaine and easie, according to their 
capacitie." Such admonitions were widespread as were the prescriptions to read the 
scriptures in an orderly fashion; George Webb (A Garden of spirituaU Flowers [London, 
16101, sig. G3*) advises 

In reading of the Scriptures, read not heere, and there a Chapter, (except vpon 

some good occasion) but the Bible in order throughout, and that as oft as thou 

canst, that so by litle and litle, thou mayest be acquainted with the whole course 

and Historie of the Bible. 

" Poetical Works, 470: "To which effect I vnderstand that he besides wrote sundrie 
others, namelie Ecclesiastes, and Canticum canticorum translated, A senights slumber, The hell 
of louers, his Purgatorie, being all dedicated to ladies; so as it may seeme he ment them al 
to one volume. Besides some other Pamphlets looselie scattered abroad: as The dying 
Pellican, The howers of the Lord, The sacrifice of a sinrxer, The seuen Psalmes, &c. which when 
1 can either by himselfe, or otherwise attaine too, I meane likewise for your fauour sake to 
set foorth." 

^° While the principal Book of Hours was of the Blessed Virgin, there were also, 
"Hours of the Passion of our Lord" and "Hours of the Holy Cross," a translation of which 
can be found in Richard Crashaw's 1648 edition of Steps to the Temple. 

14 Introduction 

attached to the Horae}^ He thereby indicates that Spenser had, by 1591, 
already translated a Book of Hours, which suggests Spenser's familiarity with 
the liturgical practice of daily scripture readings, especially those intended 
for private rather than communal use.^^ 

For his reading Spenser has in the first instance used a Geneva version 
of the Bible and in the second the psalms from the Boole of Common 
Prayer}^ Many of the Bibles available to him, whatever their provenance, 
would have contained the Book of Common Prayer's calendar, if not the 
whole of the Book of Common Prayer itself. As often as not, as in the 1572 
second folio edition of the Bishops' version, and in the 1578 first large folio 
edition of the Geneva version, they also contained a two-version psalter 
which printed in black-letter and in a parallel column, "The translation 
vsed in common prayer," taken from the Great Bible. ^'^ 

Whenever Spenser has established in his sonnet a correspondence with 
a day's second lesson, he has used the Geneva Bible in preference to the 
Great Bible or Bishops' Bible. Amoretti 4, for example, which addresses the 
lady, "Then you faire flowre, in whom fresh youth doth raine," is closer to 
the Geneva version's "if she passe the flowre of her age" (1 Corinthiaris 

^' A. W. Pollard and G. R. Redgrave, A Short-Tide Catalogue of Books Printed in 
Engiand, Scotland, & Ireland and of Eng/is/i Books Printed Abroad. 1475-1640 (London: The 
Bibliographical Society, 1986), 2:73: "The main components, found in all Salisbury Hours 
up to 1534 and most of them thereafter, are: Hours of the BVM . . . Seven Penitential 
Psalms." See also Edgar Hoskins, Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis or Sarum and York Primers 
(London, 1906), passim, and Helen White, The Tudor Books of Private Devotion (Madison: 
Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1951), passim. 

^^ Spenser's familiarity with the cursus of the Latin prayers, at least seven of which 
were also found in the Horae, is evidenced by his adoption of their latinate structure in 
Am. 68, the Easter Sunday sonnet. 

^' For Spenser's use of the Bible, see Grace Warren Landrum, "Spenser's Use of the 
Bible and his Alleged Puritanism," PMLA 41 (1926): 517-44, and Naseeb Shaheen, 
Biblical References in The Faerie Queers (Memphis: Memphis State Univ. Press, 1976), 
whose research suggested that Spenser had generally used the Geneva version of the Bible. 
See also Carol V. Kaske, "Bible," in A. C. Hamilton et al., eds.. The Spenser Encyclopaedia 
(Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1990), 87-89. 

^* Except where stated, the Bible used throughout is the original edition of the Geneva 
version, The Bible and Holy Scriptures conteyr^d in the Olde and Newe Testament. . . . Printed 
fry RoulaT\d Hall (Geneva, 1560). Its use has been supplemented whenever necessary by 
references from the first large folio edition of the Geneva version, The Bible. Translated 
according to the Ebreui and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in divers languages. 
. . . Whereunto is added the Psalter of the common translation agreeing with - the booke of 
Commcm prayer. . . . Imprinted at London by Christopher Barker (London, 1578) particularly 
for quotations from the calendar attached to its "bo<ike of Common prayer," and from the 
second folio edition of the Bishops' version. The holie Bible. . . . Imprinted at London ... by 
Richarde lugge (London, 1572) for its parallel printing of the Great Bible psalter. The 
psalms cited throughout arc taken from The Booke of Common Prayer . . . Imprinted at 
Ltmdon fry Christopher Barker . . . (London, 1582). 

Introduction 15 

7.36), than the rendering "yf she passe the time of marryage," which is 
found in both the Great Bible version and the Bishops' version. Likewise 
Amoretti 15's opening, "Ye tradefull Merchants .../... make your gain," 
bears a closer resemblance to the Geneva version's "For we are not as 
mania, whiche make marchandise of the worde of God," with its marginal 
entry, "That is, which preache for gaine," than the version in both the 
Great or Bishops' Bibles, "For we are not as many are, whiche chop and 
change with the woorde of God" (2 Corinthians 2.17). Similarly Paul's 
phrase, "therefore proue I the naturalnes of your loue" (2 Corinthians 8.8), 
is echoed in Amoretti 2rs opening question, "Was it the work of nature or 
of art," in a way that both the Bishops' version's and the Great Bible 
version's "unfaignednesse of your loue" are not. 

As well, Spenser has frequently had recourse to the particulars of the 
Geneva version's marginalia — a feature absent from the other bibles. Amoretti 
5*5 conceit of eyes, "rash eies," and envy, "enuide," reflects the sidenote to 
Matthew 20.15, which glosses "Is thine eye euil," as, "or enuious;" Amor- 
etti lO's "Tyrannesse" matches the sidenote to Mark 5.7, "to mainteine his 
tyrannic." Amoretti 44's classical topos of Orpheus and his companions, 
"those renoumed noble Peres of Greece . . . continuall cruell ciuill warre," 
reflects the sidenote to Luke 18, the second lesson at morning prayer for 
Thursday 7 March, with which the sonnet corresponds: Luke 18.17, an 
exhortation "not to waxe fainte" has attached to it the sidenote, "The 
Greke worde signifieth, not to shrinke backe as cowards do in warre." 

Two further characteristics of the Geneva Bible and its detail are 
reflected in the sequence in an unmistakable way. Amoretti 19's third 
announcement of spring, "The merry Cuckow, messenger of Spring, / His 
trompet shrill hath thrise already sounded," observes the footnote to the 
calendar of the Geneva version only — it is not found in those of the Great 
Bible or Bishops' Bible — "As vpon this day, the Romanes began their spring, 
after Plinie."" 

Another feature of the Geneva version's marginalia is peculiarly reflect- 
ed in Amoretti 58, which bears a superscription, unique in the sequence, By 
her that is most assured to her selfe. Its existence is explained by the format of 
the Geneva Bible marginalia. The second lesson at evening prayer for 
Thursday 21 March, with which Amoretti 58 corresponds, 1 Timothy 5, has 
above it in most Geneva Bibles part of a sidenote, which is attached to the 
last verse of Chapter 4, but which, to avoid its extending down beyond the 
end of Chapter 4, has been run across the top of Chapter 5 in a one-line 
extension. The line appears as a short superscription above Chapter 5 in dif- 

" The booke of Common prayer (1578), sig. aiiii. 

16 Introduction 

ferent lettering, running, "which is an assurance of thy salvation.'' Spenser's 
inscription visually mirrors the Geneva Bible's own apparent inscription. 
Where differences occur between the Geneva Bible, the Great Bible, and 
the Bishops' Bible, all evidence supports the contention that Spenser used 
the Geneva version whenever establishing correspondences with the daily 

Whenever Spenser has had recourse to a day's proper psalms, however, 
it is clear that he has read Coverdale's Great Bible psalter, which the Book 
of Common Prayer customarily printed. Amoretti I's "hands . . . shall han- 
dle" is closer to the Great Bible's "They haue handes and handle not," 
than to the Geneva version's "Thei haue hands and touche not." The 
opening to Amoretti 12, "One day," parallels the opening to the Great 
Bible, Psalm 19, "One day," rather than the Geneva Bible, "Daie vnto 
dale," and its conclusion, the technical use of complaint, "I doo com- 
plaine," corresponds to the Great Bible's "the woordes of my complaynt," 
rather than the Geneva's "the wordes of my roaring." The principal conceit 
of Amoretti 14, "Gaynst such strong castles," matches the Great Bible, 
Psalm 31.4, "thou art my strong rocke and my castel," rather than from the 
Geneva translation, "thou art my rocke and my fortres." Individual words 
are also frequently closer to the Great Bible than the Geneva. Amoretti 37 's 
concern with traps, "entrapped," reflects the Great Bible's "trappes," rather 
than the Geneva Bible's "grennes."^^ 

When Spenser has had recourse to a psalm which is not a proper psalm 
of the day, however, it is apparent that he has reverted to the Geneva Bible 
version. Amoretti 86 makes use of the Geneva version of Psalm 140 and 
reflects its sidenotes in its terms, "plague," "false . . . lies," and "kindle." 
Here Spenser has recalled Coverdale, but has also perused the Geneva 
version, both of which would have been available in most editions' parallel 
columns. Likewise, Amoretti 67, which imitates Psalm 42, has fused ele- 
ments of both the Great Bible and the Geneva Bible versions. Four phrases 
in the sonnet directly reflect the psalm. The sonnet's opening, "Lyke as," 

^* Compare also Am. 25, "mysery," with Great Bible, Ps. 88.15, "I am in miserie," 
and Geneva Bible, "I am afflicted;" Am. 27, "worship," with Great Bible, Ps 96.6, "Glory 
and woorship," and Geneva Bible, "Strength and glorie;" Am. 22, "seruice," with Great 
Bible, Ps. 72.11, "shal doo hym seruice," and Geneva Bible, "shal serue him;" Am. 9, 
"light. / Not to the Sun . . . Moone . . . Starres," with Great Bible, Ps. 148.3, "Prayse hym 
Sunne and Moone: praise him al ye starres and light," and Geneva Bible, "Praise ye him, 
sunne and moone: praise ye him all bright starres;" Am. 11, "cruell warriour," with Great 
Bible, Ps. 18.49, "(cruel) enimies," and Geneva Bible, "mine enemies;" Am. 46, 
"stormcs," with Great Bible Ps. 42.9, "al thy . . . stormes are gonne ouer me," and 
Geneva Bible, "All thy waucs and thy floods are gone ouer me;" Am. 55, "compare," 
with Great Bible, "that shalbc compared vnto the Lorde," and Geneva Bible, "who is 
equal to the Lord in the heaucn." 

Introduction ]J_ 

is found in the Great Bible, "Like as the hart," and not in the Geneva 
Bible which has only "As the hart;" similarly the "brooke" of the sonnet 
is taken from the "water brookes" of the Great Bible not the "riuers of 
water" of the Geneva Bible; on the other hand the "so panteth" of the 
Geneva Bible ("longeth" in the Great Bible), is adopted in the sonnet as 
"panting hounds," while the sonnet's "thirst" is found in all versions: "My 
soule is a thirst for God." 

Finally Spenser has reverted to the Geneva version for Epithalamion. The 
opening to Stanza 9, "Loe where she comes along with portly pace, / Lyke 
Phoebe from her chamber of the East, / Arysing forth to run her mighty 
race," recalls the Geneva version's Psalm 19.4-5, "The sunne. Which 
commeth forthe as a bridegrome out of his chambre, and rejoyceth like a 
mightie man to runne his race," rather than Coverdale's "rejoyceth as a 
giant to runne his course." 

The above evidence supports the conclusion that Spenser followed the 
calendar and read the Great Bible psalter, both of which were commonly 
found in editions of the Book of Common Prayer, but that for the second 
lessons at morning and evening prayer he read the New Testament chapters 
from the Geneva version of the Bible. 

The amoretti's correspondences are not limited to the English of the 
Geneva Bible and the psalms of the Book of Common Prayer. Spenser has 
also established extensive correspondences with the Latin Vulgate and, in 
the case of New Testament readings, the Greek koine. Spenser's knowledge 
of classical Greek and Latin authors can readily be established from The 
Faerie Queene. Evidence of his familiarity particularly with his favorites, 
Ovid and Plato, but also with Claudian, Statius, and Catullus, his epithala- 
mial models, is obvious throughout Amoretti and Epithalamion. It is equally 
clear from the sonnets' correspondences that his knowledge of the Vulgate 
and koine was extensive and intricate. The correspondences with the Latin 
and Greek versions of the scriptbres are sometimes plainly obvious, some- 
times they are jokingly simple, sometimes, after the manner of a rhetorical 
poser, they extend a direct challenge to the lady to uncover the poet's 
clever usage. 

A detail from Amoretti 9's expeditio provides a good example of a simple 
correspondence. The elements which comprise the sonnet's series of con- 
trasts, "Not to the Sun . . . / nor to the Moone . . . / nor to the starres . . . ," 
match exactly the details of Psalm 148.3, a psalm Spenser read for 31 
January with which Amoretti 9 corresponds,^^ "Prayse him Sunne and 
Moone: prayse him all ye starres." A further element, however, "nor vnto 

^^ See n. 9 above, for an explanation of the mistaken calendar prescription for 31 

18 Introduction 

Christall," has no immediately obvious correspondence — it is to be found 
concealed in the Vulgate version of the day's Psalm 147.17, "Mittit crystal- 
lum suum sicut buccellas." 

Spenser's observing the Vulgate often extends to etymological — and hom- 
onymic — punning. A feature of morning prayer Psalm 24 for Monday 4 
February, with which Amoretti 13 corresponds, is its repeated and highlight- 
ed verse, "Lift vp your heades, O ye gates, and be ye lift vp ye euerlasting 
doores" (vv. 7 & 9). The Vulgate has "Attollite portas." In opening 

Amoretti 13, "In that proud port " Spenser has construed the Vulgate's 

"portas," not as gate in the sense of entranceway, or even port, but as gate 
in the sense of gait, carriage, bearing, or port. The two words are associated 
because gait in the sixteenth century was spelled only as gate. 

Amoretti 43 provides a more extensive parallel with the Vulgate, as well 
as confirming the Amoretti as a series of intimate jokes. The sonnet con- 
cludes by affirming the lady's ability to construe the poet's secret "loue 
learned letters": 

SHall I then silent be or shall I speake? 

And if I speake, her wrath renew I shall: 

and if I silent be, my hart will breake, 

or choked be with ouerflowing gall. 
What tyranny is this both my hart to thrall, 

and eke my toung with proud restraint to tie? 

that nether I may speak nor thinke at all, 

but like a stupid stock in silence die. 
Yet I my hart with silence secretly 

will teach to speak, and my just cause to plead: 

and eke mine eies with meeke humility, 

loue learned letters to her eyes to read. 
Which her deep wit, that true harts thought can spel, 

wil scone conceiue, and learne to construe well. 

The primary meaning of the "construe" of the final line is to transliterate 
from one language to another by providing a word for word translation; the 
secondary meaning is to interpret a riddle — a sense it retains in its only other 
usage by Spenser, when Britomart is defeated by the riddle, "Be bold" (FQ 

Yet in asserting that the lady has such an ability and wit, the poet in 
fact has fashioned a construct in which the lady is considered the primary 
reader of the sonnet and in which a challenge is laid down to her, because 
the sonnet earlier contains an example of the poet's own secret construing 
in the dominant and concluding simile to the sonnet's octet, "1 like a 
stupid stock in silence die." Luke 17, the second lesson at morning prayer 

Introduction 19 

for Wednesday 6 March, with which Amoretti 43 corresponds, opens with 
the image of the mulberry tree, "If ye ... shulde say vnto this mulbery tre, 
plucke thy self vp by the rootes ..." (v. 6), in the Vulgate, "dicetis huic 
arbori moro." Spenser has established the sonnet's correspondence with the 
day's parable by wittily construing the phrase not as morus = mulberry + 
arbor = tree, but alternatively as morus = stupid + arbor = stock, and so 
has provided the sonnet with its striking image. The final lines surrepti- 
tiously challenge the lady to uncover his transliteration and solve his riddle. 
The Greek correspondences are generally less witty and more ponderous 
and serious-minded. Amoretti 18 and 54 both share a stage conceit deriving 
from the koine and contain verbal parallelisms. Amoretti 18 was composed 
for Saturday 9 February which has as its second lesson at evening prayer, 2 
Corinthians 5, which opens. 

For we knowe that if our earthlie house of this tabernacle be destroied, 
we haue a buylding giuen of God, that is, an house not made with 
hands, but eternal in the heauens. . . . For in dede we that are in this 
tabernacle, sigh and are burdened. 

Amoretti 54 was written for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, 17 March, which has 
as its Epistle, Hebrews 9.11-16, which celebrates Christ as "a greater and a 
more perfite Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is not of this buylding" 
(v. 1 1). The theatrical motif in both sonnets corresponds with the image in 
both verses of "Tabernacle," in the Greek, aKT|Vii, a term used originally 
by the Greeks for a wooden stage on which actors performed. ^^ Further- 
more Spenser has wittily extended Amoretti 54's associations with the koine 
through the pseudo-etymological detail provided by the Epistle's subsequent 
verses 12-13. Paul distinguishes the CTKr|VTi, "not made with hands, that is 
not of thy buylding," from earlier aKrivai on which other performances 
were enacted, "by the blood of goates" {Si'ai^axoq xpdycov) and "the 
blood of bulles and of goates" (to aifia xaupcov Kai ipdycov). Amoretti 54 
observes this distinction in its own distinction between comedy and tragedy, 
"I waile and make my woes a Tragedy," where "Tragedy" ingeniously 
reflects the Greek's ipdycov, which is its partial etymon. 

A more seriously intentioned observance of the koine can be found in 
Amoretti 45, whose topos of the mirror and its "ymage" (11) directly reflects 
the use of the term 'image' (eikcov) in the second lesson at evening prayer 
for Friday 8 March, Colossians 3.9-10, with which Amoretti 45 corresponds, 
"seing that ye haue put of the olde man with his workes. And haue put on 

^* All references to the koine are from The Engiw/irrum'j Greek hJeui Testament; giving 
the Greek Text of Stephens 1550 (London: Samuel Bagster, 1877). 

20 Introduction 

the newe, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that 
created him" {eiq ^Ttiyvcoaiv Kax' eiKdva xoC Kxiaavioq auxov). eiKcov 
was also used particularly of an image in a mirror by Plato in a well-known 
passage in The Republic (402B) and Spenser, in establishing a correspondence 
with the scriptural verse, has drawn upon the locus classicus: "OukoOv Kai 
eiKovaq ypafifidxcov, ei tiou f\ tv u5aaiv f\ sv KaxoTtxpoiq tix^aivoiv- 
xo, ou Ttpoxepov yvcoa6)i80a Tipiv av aCxa yvcojiev" (Is it not true that, 
if there are images of letters reflected in water or in mirrors, we shall not 
know them until we know the originals?). It is this same metaphor of the 
mirror which, when applied to the eyes of lovers in a passage from Phaedrus 
(255D), becomes the source of the sonneteers' mirror conceit. Plato com- 
pares the lover to one that has caught a disease of the eye from another but 
cannot discover its cause, not understanding that his love is like a mirror in 
which he beholds his true image: "dA,A,' oiov an' aA,A,ou 6^QaX[iiaq 
d7uoA£A,aDK (b<; 7tp6(j)aaiv eineiv ouk ex^^y &anEp 58 ev Kax6;cxpcp cv 
xq) ^pcovxi ^auxov opcav A,8A,ri08v." Furthermore the context of the 
passage in The Republic clearly identifies 8iKd)V as an image associated with 
the original ibta (Idea) which is the true image in the mind.^^ Since the 
Pauline phrase, "after the image of him that created him," while not 
Platonic, is reminiscent of Plato's ibtai (ideas), the eternal and ideal forms 
in the (creator's) mind of which all created things are the imperfect images, 
Spenser clearly felt that his use of the term "Idea" (7) in a sonnet for a day 
whose scriptures could be construed as alluding to the Platonic iSea was an 
appropriate correspondence. 

B. Classical and Petrarchist 

The Faerie Queene amply demonstrates Spenser's extensive knowledge of 
classical incident, myth, topoi, and loci amoeni. On a smaller scale the same 
familiarity is manifest throughout Amoretti and Epithalamion. As the com- 
mentary reveals, the sequence is punctuated with references and allusions 
from Pliny, Horace, and Ovid, while the anacreontic verses and Epithalami- 
on pay close observance to their classical antecedents. Spenser's noticing 
the reference to Pliny, for example, in the BCP's footnote for 10 February, 
with which Amoretti 19 corresponds ("As vpon this day, the Romanes began 
their spring, after Plinie"), has led to the sonnet's opening line, "The merry 
Cuckow, messenger of Spring," but has also caused him to adopt Pliny's 
classical identification of the cuckoo as the harbinger of spring {Naturalis 
historia,, "procedit vere"). 

^' Plato, The Refmblk, trans. Paul Shorey (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1956), 260 n. 

Introduction 21 

Pliny's description of encaustic painting is also reflected in Amoretti 2 1 . 
The conceit corresponds exactly with the striking metaphor which opens 
the psalms at morning prayer for Tuesday 12 February, "like as waxe 
melteth at the fire." Spenser's use of inure, however, ("with such strange 
termes her eyes she doth inure" [9]) is cleverly ambiguous. It carries the 
customary meaning of harden, but also (in a usage possibly the first in 
English) of burn in (from in + mere). The etymological pun thus provides 
the link between the psalm's metaphor and classical description of the 
encaustic process from Pliny, "Ceris pingere ac picturam inurere ..." 
(, and its detail, "cerae tinguntur isdem his coloribus ad eas 
picturas, quae inuruntur . , ." ( 

Spenser more frequently has recourse to Ovid during the sequence. He 
reflects Ovid's Fasti (2.79-1 18) in his use of the Arion myth in Amoretti 38, 
and draws on the conclusion to Ovid's description of creation in Amoretti 
13 (Metamorphoses 1.75-88), and on his account of the relationship between 
the four substances for Amoretti 55 (15.237-52). The locus classicus of poetic 
immortality which concludes Ovid's Metamorphoses is strongly echoed in the 
sequence's four immortality sonnets, Amoretti, 25, 51, 69, and particularly 
75. He has imitated Horace's "Exegi monimentum aere perennius" {Odes, 
3.30.1) for Amoretti 69.10's "immortall moniment," while Amoretti 17.13's 
"greater craftesman" is in direct contrast to Horace's lesser craftsman — the 
"faber imus" of Ars poetica, 32. He draws on Plato for the mirror sonnet, 
Amoretti 45, and, in a general way, for the Platonic Idaea of Amoretti 88. He 
incorporates detail from Homer's accounts of Penelope in Odyssey 19 and 
24, for the subject o{ Amoretti 23, and from Iliad 19, where the Furies are 
invoked to condemn slander and perjury, for the condemnations against 
false speaking which comprise Amoretti 86. 

The clearest instances of classical imitation occur in the volume's 
anacreontic verses and the Epithalamion. The prefacing of Epithalamion with 
a series of fescennine verses is itself in imitation of a classical model, since 
all Renaissance editions of Claudian's Epithalamium de nuptiis Honorii Augusti 
prefaced the epithalamium with a similar series oi fescennina. Furthermore 
Claudian's final Fescenninum has as its conceit the bee defending its honey 
against stealing. In choosing to imitate Theocritus' Idyll 19, as well as 
Anacreon 35, in his verses Spenser has followed Claudian and has also 
adopted the genial context which Claudian gave to Theocritus' 

Epithalamion itself, as might be expected in a poetic form for which there 
was little precedent in English, draws heavily on traditional classical models 
but also shows an acquaintance with the continental exempla which came to 
form the Renaissance epithalamial convention and for which Scaliger laid 
down elaborate norms in his 1561 work, Poetices. Throughout his poem 

22 Introduction 

Spenser shows an extensive knowledge of and indebtedness to Claudian's 
two epithalamia, Epithalamium de nuptiis Honorii Augusti and Epithalamium 
dictum Palladio . . . et Celerinae, to Statius' Epithalamion in Stellam et Violentil' 
lam, as well as to Catullus' epithalamial carmina, Carmen 61, 62, and 64. 

As far as Amcn-etti is concerned, Spenser has positioned it firmly within 
the genre of Renaissance sonnet sequences. Earlier in this century work on 
Amoretti directed its attention towards the sonnets' continental antecedents 
in order to affirm their continental (and Platonic) heritage. ^° More recent 
endeavor has concentrated on continental precedents in order to establish 
Amoretti^s native English character.^' 

Amoretti owes much to Petrarchist topoi, conceits and mannered struc- 
tures: 'fire,' 'ice,' 'plaints,' 'ships in storms,' 'eyes,' 'fayre loves,' all find 
some place in the sequence. Yet Spenser's debt is seldom specific, and 
searching Petrarch, Desportes or Tasso for equivalences is rarely helpful. 
Generally he recalls such precedents with a freedom and imprecision which 
makes their use his own, and he is scarcely so tied to them that a definite 
influence or culling can be cited.^^ Indeed, Spenser's use of continental 

^° Sidney Lee, Elizabethan Sonnets (Westminster, 1904), 1:92-99; L. E. Kastner, 
"Spenser's 'Amoretti' and Desportes," MLR 4 (1908-9): 65-69; Janet G. Scott, "Sources 
of Spenser's Amoretti" MLR 22 (1927): 189-95, and Les Sonnet Elizabethains (Paris, 1929), 
159-77; Veselin Kostic, Spenser's Sources in Italian Poetry (Belgrade: Faculte de Philologie 
de rUniversite de Belgrade, 1969), 38-75. For a study of possible Platonic influences, see 
Edwin Casady, "The Neo-Platonic Ladder in Spenser's Amoretti," PQ 20 (1941): 284-95, 
and Mohinimohan Bhattacherje, Platonic Ideas in Spenser (London, 1935). Suggested 
Platonic elements in the amoretti have frequently been queried, not the least by Robert 
Ellrodt, Neoplatonism in the Poetry of Spenser (Geneva: Librairie E. Droz, 1960), 40-45. 

^' Lever, 92-138, and Reed Way Dasenbrock, "The Petrarchan Context of Spenser's 
'Amoretti' " PMLA 100 (1985): 38-50. 

'^ Attempts have been made, for example, to construe Am. 10 as a translation of 
Petrarch's "Or vedi. Amor," but the two poems are so utterly dissimilar, that no grounds 
of first similarity can be established upon which to base any valid comparison, and the 
scriptural corresp)ondences of Am. lO's conceit and imagery are pronounced (Dasenbrock, 
42-43). Am. 50, "Long languishing in double malady," has been instanced as "certainly 
suggested" by Sonnet 53 of Desportes' Les Amours d'Hippolyte, "Bien qu'une fidvre tierce 
en mcs veines boiiillonne" (L. E. Kastner," Spenser's 'Amoretti' and Desportes," MLR 4 
[1908-9]: 63). Apart from the contrived connection betwen Desportes' "fifevre tierce" and 
Spenser's "double malady," however, the sonnets bear no relationship to each other. Am. 
IS's opening conceit of the wheel grinding, "The rolling wheele that runneth often 
round," is closer to the day's gospel image of the "milstone," than to any connection with 
Desportes' "L'eau tombant d'un lieu haut goutc ^ goute a puissance," as both Kastner and 
Scott suggest. Desportes' sonnet is so far removed from Spenser's poem as to suggest only 
the faintest of echoes. Am. 48'8 opening invocation, "Innocent paper," owes a less likely 
debt to Desportes, "O vers que j'ai chantez en I'ardeur qui m'enflammc," as Kastner 
asserts, than to the complex of scriptural references for Monday 1 1 March. A range of 
other sonnets {Am- 42, 60, 69), for which possible allusions have been claimed, correspond 

Introduction 23 

exempla calls attention to a problem to which any aggregative convention 
gives rise: in Amoretti an echo frequently conjures up the paratextual 
Petrarchist world, yet its very momentariness defeats any sustained grasp of 
it. Furthermore, by confining his Petrarchist debt to the shortest of glimpses 
and by hurrying his lines onward to create a semblance of a Petrarchist 
mode, Spenser continually thwarts any conventional expectation. The son- 
nets' brief Petrarchist allusions allow little secure indebtedness and threaten 
to undercut the very tradition that Spenser overtly espouses. In fact, the 
amoretti provide only five clear instances of translation, all from the later 
period and all from Tasso. Yet even on these occasions Spenser adapts and 
recasts the original and imbues his rendering with his own distinctive 
cadence and flow. 

Spenser's most obvious use of Petrarchist conceits occurs with those 
sonnets which lack correspondences with a day's scripture readings. They 
are more conventionally correct than most in the sequence and are often 
undistinguished and noticeably flat. Amoretti 30, for which no single source 
has been found,^^ but the exemplum for which was Petrarch's "D'un bel, 
chiaro, polito e vivo ghiaccio / move la fiamma che m'incende e strugge" 
{Rime, 202), works the commonplace Petrarchist topos of ice and fire: 

MY loue is lyke to yse, and I to fyre; 

how comes it then that this her cold so great 
is not dissolu'd through my so hot desyre, 
but harder growes the more I her intreat? 

This opening quatrain is the first of three, each in the form of a question, 
each striving to heighten the rhetorical tension through a series of para- 
doxes, until the final bathetic couplet, which is made the more vulnerable 
by its blatant pun on "kynd": 

Such is the powre of loue in gentle mind, 
that it can alter all the course of kynd. 

TTie compounding of paradox with little ingenuity and to little advantage 
eventually reduces the poem to a run-of-the-mill Petrarchist sonnet and 
marks it as different from the general standard of amoretti. 

more clearly to scriptural and liturgical occasions than to any Petrarchist source. (Janet G. 
Scott [1927], 189-95, and [1929], 159-77.) 

The Works of Edmund Spenser, A Variorum Edition, eds. E. Greenlaw, C. G. Osgood, 
F. M. Padelford, R. Heffner, H. G. Lotspeich, 9 vols. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkir\s Univ. 
Press, 1932-49), The Minor Poems, 2.429. 

24 Introduction 

In these amoretti, furthermore, Spenser's distinctive manner of treating 
paradox is not evident. The Petrarchist sonneteer held the two elements of 
the paradox always in suspension and, by disabling any resolution, presented 
the contrarieties as always opposed. In such poetic endeavor paradoxes 
followed each other accumulatively, and keeping the edifice upright as 
much as anything else displayed the poet's skill. Spenser's smooth-flowing 
style, on the other hand, blurs the contrarieties to the extent that the 
distinction between the paradox's elements becomes confused and a kind of 
integration is suggested. His distinctive rhyme scheme also operates aggrega- 
tively, each rhyme hurrying the weft of the poem onward to the concluding 
couplet, which is either confirmatory or paradoxical. The thrust of the poem 
is towards the concluding couplet, which bears a greater weight than that 
which a different rhyme scheme might produce. In these specifically Pet- 
rarchist sonnets Spenser evinces none of his customary smooth handling, 
and the sharpness of the seriate paradoxes in Amoretti 30, for example, lead 
onward to a final couplet which is anticlimactic. 

Although Amoretti provides frequent instances of Petrarchist topoi and 
conceits, Spenser's drawing upon them is nearly always in order to establish 
correspondences with a day's scriptural theme or imagery. Amoretti 11 's 
Petrarchan conceit of the "Cruell warriour," Amoretti 14's "siege" conceit, 
Amoretti 15's blazon, Amoretti 17, a "portrait" sonnet, Amoretti 34, a 
"galley" sonnet, Amoretti 45, a "mirror" sonnet and Amoretti 18 and 54 
with their theatrical topos, all find parallels in a corresponding day's scriptur- 
al readings. 

Early in the sequence, however, Spenser seems less adept at fusing his 
sources together. Ash Wednesday's Amoretti 22 draws upon Desportes' 
"Solitaire & pensif dans un bois ecarte," but the borrowings have not 
resulted in a happy mix and the final result is not felicitous.^'* The sonnet 
opens with the propriety due to a solemn feast. Yet as it moves from the 
Christian to the pagan, it turns from the propriety of fasting to a hyperbolic 
indictment of the lady. The first quatrain is full of ceremony and proper 
occasional intent, while the second's imagery and content are reminiscent 
of the Old Testament. But the influence of Desportes changes the tone of 
Spenser's sestet. The pagan-inspired imagery extends excessively the poem's 
hyperbolic mode, as it turns on the lady and establishes her as a goddess, 
remote and severe, who is asked to vouch a safekeeping to the poet, who 
now casts himself, ambiguously in the context of an altar, in the role of a 
"relick." This final posturing and awkward hyperbole are false to the 

'^ Dc«portc», Lcs Amours de Diane, in F. de Malberbe and V. E. Graham, eds., Lm 
Premieres Oeuvres de Philippes Dei Porus (Genive: Librairie E. Droz, 1959), 10\ no. 39. 

Introduction 25 

sonnet's opening spirit, because the intent of the Lenten fasting and praying 
is finally to appease a pagan goddess. It is the too forthright intrusion of the 
pagan into the religious that creates the concluding unease in Spenser's 
poem. Thus the merging of sources in Amoretti 22 is problematic, for the 
way its disparate elements have been worked together exhibits a certain 

By the time of the sonnets composed for Holy Week, Spenser's use of 
Petrarchist sources is more assured. His reworking of the images of beast, 
tree and ship in Amoretti 56, which are found in Petrarch's "Standomi un 
giorno" (Rime, 323), and which he had already adapted for The Visions of 
Petrarch, shows growing certainty. Generally he uses a day's scripture reading 
to knowing advantage, but he is not averse to loosely employing a standard 
Petrarchist exemplum, when it can be accommodated to his purpose for that 
day. In Amoretti 67, written for the Saturday before Easter, for example, he 
has chosen to write a sonnet in imitation of the stock deer topos, which 
originated with Petrarch's "Una Candida cerva," and which was developed 
by, among others, Tasso in his "Questa fera gentil."^^ Spenser echoes the 
spirit of the convention rather than the letter, because the only specific 
element he shares with either precedent is the "cangiato voler," the 
"changed will" of Tasso's gentle beast. Yet in choosing to develop the topos 
on the Saturday before Easter he is also observing a liturgical feature closely 
associated with the day, Psalm 42, "Like as the hart desireth the water 
brookes," which was traditionally sung as the catechumens proceeded to the 
font at the Easter Vigil. The sonnet's liturgical echoes suggest that the poet 
was conscious that he had finished his Lenten period of preparation and 
now desired to be joined with his "deare." Because the liturgical occasion 
has been subtly fused in the poem with traditional poetic elements, Amoretti 
67 offers itself simultaneously as a sustained Petrarchist piece and a poem of 
a deeply religious cast. 

In the sonnets composed for the period after Easter, Spenser has in- 
creased his direct use of Italian precedents with five sonnets closely related 
to sonnets of Tasso: Amoretti 72 draws upon "L'alma vaga di luce e di 
bellezza," Amoretti 73 upon "Donna, poiche fortuna empia mi nega," 
Amoretti 76 and 77 upon "Non son si belli i fiori onde natura," and Amor- 
etti 81 upon "Bella e la donna mia, se del bel crine."'^ 

" For an extended discussion of Am. 67, see Prescott (1985), 33-76. 

'* Le rime de Torquato Tasso, ed. Paolo Solerti, 3 vols. (Bologna, 1898-1902), 2:98.67; 
2:319.22; 3:133.94; 2:25.17. Echoes of Tasso can be found in earlier sonnets, the most 
pronounced being Am. 43.1-4, see Tasso, Rime, 2:166, "Se taccio, il duol s'avanza;" Am. 
45.1, and Tasso, Rime, 2:251.169, "Qual da cristallo lampeggiar si vede Raggio;" Am. 56, 
whose structure reflects Tasso's "Voi set bella, ma . . . ," (Rime, 4:69.253); Am. 70, see 

26 Introduction 

Arrwretti 72's twofold direction from earth to heaven and heaven to 
earth is found also in Tasso's original: 

L'alma vaga di luce e di bellezza, 

Ardite spiega al Ciel I'ale amorose; 

Ma si le fa I'umanita gravose, 

Che le dechina a quel, ch'in terra apprezza. 

Yet the same twofold direction has strong ties with the second lesson at 
morning prayer for the Thursday in Easter Week, 4 April, Acts 1, the 
account of the ascension into heaven, which describes how the disciples, 
having "loked stedfastly towarde heauen" after the ascension, were instruct- 
ed to return their eyes earthward to behold Christ's coming again: "two 
men stode by them in white apparel, Which also said. Ye men of Galile, 
why stand ye gasing into heauen? This lesus which is taken vp from you 
into heauen, shal so come, as ye haue sene him go into heauen" (vv, 10- 
11). Similarly in Amoretti 72, because the beauty of heaven is manifest on 
earth in the lady's beauty, the poet's sight is drawn back to earth. He does 
not, however, pursue his use of Tasso. Where Tasso is concerned to sustain 
his original conceit on a metaphoric level, Spenser's sonnet adopts a tone 
proper to the Easter season, for its later concern is with the peace and "con- 
tentment" that has been found at Easter. 

Spenser's most successful fusion of continental source and scriptural 
correspondence occurs with the pair of sonnets, Amoretti 76 and 77, which 
have assumed much of their imagery from Tasso's sonnet, "Non son si belli 
i fiori onde natura." They are two of the most physical of the amoretti, yet 
Spenser imbues them with a quite different mood. Tasso's poem embellishes 
the contrast between nature and love. In Amoretti 76 Spenser initially takes 
up the elements of praise that Tasso affords: the "marvellous bosom," the 
"garden and nest of love," and the "earthly paradise." Yet, as Lever has 
pointed out,^^ he drops Tasso's contrast between nature and love and 
recasts his eulogy in a mode, which, for the moment, hints at an unfallen 
quality in "the paradice of pleasure." Where Tasso queries how he can 
restrain his thoughts from breaking forth to steal such heavenly fruit but 
contains his answer always within the framework of classical myth, Spenser 
adapts the question by acknowledging rather guiltily the internal urgings of 
physical desire, "and my frayle thoughts too rashly led astray." Furthermore, 

Tawo, Geniscdemme Liherata, 16.15.5-8. David Quint, "Torquato Tasso," in The Spenser 
Encyclopedia, 679, who lists other possible correspondences with Tasso, almost entirely 
drawn from Kostic, Spenser's Sources in Italian Poetry, which 1 find less convincing. 
"Lever, 110-13. 

Introduction 27 

because he has dropped Tasso's contrast between nature and love, he can 
drop Tasso's parallel temporal contrast between April and autumn. In like 
manner in Amoretti 11, Spenser takes from Tasso the apple's mythical 
referents of Atalanta and Hercules, but quite changes their classical spirit. 
Even though in Amoretti 76 he had been made to feel awkward by his 
betrothed's physical beauty, in Amoretti 11 he explicitly affirms the nature 
of the apples to be "voyd of sinfull vice" and "brought from paradice," 
identical therefore to that prelapsarian gracefulness of paradise. Time, then, 
whose passing was an integral part of Tasso's sonnet, is absolved of any 
movement in Spenser's version. 

These modifications have made Amoretti 76 correspond more closely 
with the account of the Annunciation, the indwelling of Christ in the 
womb of the Virgin Mary, in Matthew 1, which was read as the second 
lesson at morning prayer for Friday 3 May. As well, in the opening line to 
Amoretti 11, "Was it a dreame, or did I see it playne," Spenser has also 
made Amoretd 11 correspond more closely with the dominant, and scrip- 
turally unique, image of the "dreame," four accounts of which are found in 
Matthew 2, the second lesson at morning prayer for the subsequent day, 
Saturday 4 May. Since Tasso nowhere refers to a dream, Spenser's contin- 
uing intent to establish in the sonnets parallels with the corresponding day's 
readings has recast the atmosphere of Tasso's original. Just as in Amoretti 76 
he has changed a temporal love into a love of prelapsarian origin, so his 
incorporation of the dream motif into Amoretti 11 has given his sonnet a 
surreal quality lacking in Tasso. 

By the end of the sequence Spenser uses his Petrarchist models and topoi 
freely. In the final sonnet of the sequence, for example, his use of Tasso's 
"O vaga tortorella . . . tu sovra il nudo ramo" is not slavishly imitative, ^^ 
but combines liturgical correspondences with Petrarchist sources syncretic- 
ally. The easy flow of these later amoretti suggests a confident elegance that 
contrasts with the tense control of Tasso. The nature of Spenser's sonnets 
is less exhausting than the precise juxtaposing of Tasso, and in this Spenser 
generally differs from poets of the Petrarchist tradition, who use paradox to 
tighten the reader's focus. Spenser's flow is more elastic and dissipate, 
enabling the reader to read smoothly, softly, and with equanimity. He has 
thus brought to the genre of sonnet sequences an essentially integrative 
disposition. His syncretism replaces the traditional Petrarchist attachment 
to the riches of unreconciled variances. His sequence is also distinctive 
because its tensions not only anticipate the outside resolution of the epitha- 
lamium, but contain within covert indicators of christic redemption, of 

** Quint, The Spenser Encyclopedia, 679. 

28 Introduction 

which the timelessness and covert incarnational references of Amoretti 76 
and 77 are examples. Spenser's working together of allusions and attitudes 
from both Petrarchist sources and scriptural loci intimates a poetic and a 
personal harmony, which in Amoretti becomes his ultimate preoccupation 
and goal. 

Of the two final pieces of the volume, the anacreontic verses show some 
indebtedness first to Tasso's madrigal, "Mentre in grembo," as Hutton has 
pointed out, and second to two epigrams by Marot, "Amour trouua celle qui 
m'est amere," and "L'Enfant Amour n'a plus fon arc estrange," as Prescott 
has shown.^^ Epithalamion owes something to Remy Belleau's Epithalame 
Sur le Mariage de Monseigneur \e Due de Lorraine et de Madame Claude Fille du 
Roy. Chante par les nymphes de Seine et de Meuse, to Joachim du Bellay's 
Epithalame sur le Mariage de Prince Philibert Emanuel et Marguerite de France, 
and to Marc-Claude de Buttet's Epithalame Aux Nosses de PhiUbert de Savoie. 
(The detail of these borrowings is shown in the commentary.) 

Epithalamion evinces the same syncretism that marks the sonnets of 
Amoretti: Petrarchist and classical sources are woven into a rich tapestry 
where one allusion moves easily to the next. Spenser's handling of his 
sources connects their detail without hiatus or gap; all is blended together 
smoothly. But Epithalamion is more readily recognizable as an edifice than 
Amoretti and the classical and Petrarchist borrowings that go toward making 
up the edifice are more obvious to the eye. No doubt also, because Epithala- 
mion has little or no precedent in English, the earlier sources on which the 
poem draws are more conspicuous. In Epithalamion finally the voice is more 
public than that of Amoretti and the rhetorical and learned allusions are 
more formal and distinguishable. 

U. Structure 

The overall structure of the volume Amoretti and Epithalamion is clearly 
tripartite, its two longer works being separated by the series of short anacrc' 
ontic verses. These smaller verses, because seemingly so inconsequential and 
improperly bawdy, have sometimes been considered non-authorial. (For the 
same reasons, Shakespeare's final two sonnets 153 and 154, which are 
concerned with the sleeping Cupid laying aside his brand which is later 
quenched in "a coole Well," have had their authorship challenged.) Yet 
recent work by Duncan-Jones, Kerrigan and Warkentin has shown that 
Spenser, in giving his work a tripartite shape, is observing a convention that 

'* James Hutton, "Cupid and the Bee," in Rita Gucriac, cd. Essays on Renaissance 
Poetry (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1980), 106-31 and Hugh MacLean and Anne Lake 
Prescott, cds., Edmund Spenser's Poetry (New York: Norton Critical Edition, 1993), 623-24. 

Introduction 29 

seems to have applied to sonnet sequences published during the 1580's and 
1590's.^° More often than not, when a sequence is followed by a longer 
formal or narrative piece, the two are separated by a series of short verses, 
often after the manner of Anacreon. Richard Barnfield separates the sonnets 
which comprise his sequence Cynthia (1595) from The Legend of Cassandra 
by an ode in iambic tetrameter beginning, "Nights were short, and daies 
were long." All three pieces in the volume are signed off with Finis. Thom- 
as Lodge divides his sequence Phillis (1593) from the long narrative. The 
tragicall complaynt of Elstred, by an ode in trochaic metre — associated by the 
Elizabethans with Anacreon — beginning, "Nowe I find thy lookes were 
fained." Samuel Daniel's Delia (1592) is separated from The complaint of 
Rosamond by a small and seemingly inconsequential ode beginning, "nowe 
each creture ioyes the other." In a lesser manner Barnabe Barnes's Par- 
thenophil and Parthenophe (1593), which concludes with the most formal 
poem of the volume, a triple sestina after the manner of an epithalamium, 
is preceded by a carmen anacreontium. Richard Lynche separates his Diella 
(1596) from The amorous Poeme of Dom Diego and Gineura by a last sonnet 
inviting a perusal of the subsequent story, "Harken awhile {Diella) to a 
storie," and Shakespeare's final two sonnets seemingly separate his sonnet 
sequence from A Lover's Complaint. 

The fact that Amoretti and Epithalamion follows this tripartite structure 
suggests that Spenser's readers would have accepted it as customary and 
urges again that the volume be read as a single work. Within it Spenser 
adds the further liturgical dimension o{ Amoretti, which itself is threefold.'*' 
The first section comprises those sonnets written for Hilary Term and Lent 
leading up to Holy Week {Amoretti 1-57); the second those which corre- 
spond with Holy Week and the Easter season through to Low Sunday, 
where the direction of the sonnets is towards the serious and grave {Amoretti 
58-75); the third section comprises the appended sonnets of expectation 
{Amoretti 76-89). The themes and preoccupations of the later sections lead 
towards the public celebrations and resolutions of Epithalamion. 

A. The Sonnets for Hilary Term and Lent 

The correlations between each sonnet and its corresponding scriptural 
reading contribute extensively to the richness of Amoretti as a sonnet 

^ K. Duncan-Jones, "Was the 1609 Shake-Speares Sonnets Really Unauthorized?" RES 
n.s. 34 (1983): 168-69; William Shakespeare, The Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint, ed. 
John Kerrigan, (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1986), 13-14; Germaine Warkentin, 
"Amoretti and Epithalamion," in The Spenser Encyclopedia, 31. 

' For recent discussion of Amoretti's structure, see Gibbs, 10-28, and Johnson, passim. 

30 Introduction 

sequence and mark an advance in understanding the convention to which 
they belong. They show how Spenser constructed his sonnets and what 
facets of the scripture lessons he found most attractive. His choice, and the 
manner in which he imitates a lesson, frequently uncover readings of poems 
which extend beyond the purely conventional and convert the sequence's 
artifice into a close construct in which the varied hues of the relationship 
between Spenser and his betrothed are displayed. 

At the beginning of the sequence, the way Spenser has neatly turned the 
features found in the scriptural lesson with which Amoretti 2 corresponds 
shows a hidden propriety within the sonnet, for the scriptural echoes give 
the sonnet an acceptability quite beyond its conventionally contrived 
harshness.'^^ In contrasting the "Vnquiet thought" that grows from the 
"inward bale" in his heart with possible conduct in the presence of the 
lady, the sonnet imitates the inner corruption of the scribes and pharisees 
which is contrasted with their outward behavior in Matthew 23, the second 
lesson at morning prayer, which he read for January 24. The poet's calling 
upon the thought to "breake forth" from the "inner part," where it lurks 
"lyke to vipers brood," exactly reflects the gospel's condemnation of the 
scribes and pharisees as a "generacion of viperes" (Geneva version sidenote, 
''Or, broodes'') (v. 33). The correspondences identify the poet with the 
scribes and pharisees and allow him to impute to himself a culpability that 
exceeds a courtly poet's customary worthlessness. Furthermore in the 
sonnet's third quatrain the poet calls the thought to humble itself, "fayrest 
proud / . . . fall lowly at her feet: / and with meek humblesse. ..." The 
admonition is in direct response to Christ's claim that, "Whosoeuer wil 
exalt him self, shalbe broght low: and whosoeuer wil humble him self, 
shalbe exalted" (v. 12). In asking the lady to grant pardon and peace, the 
poet has assigned to her divinely merciful associations which are the true 
compliment of the sonnet. The scriptural associations thus discreetly extend 
the parameters of the compliment and the final couplet reflects a deft 
touch, by turning a rather strained and contorted pair of overlengthy lines 
into a compliment that betrays a restrained tenderness and a delicately 
extended pleading. 

Such good-humored intimacies abound in this early section of the 
amoretti, as straightforward poems of praise loaded with knowing qualities. 
Private nuances and hints are tucked away in unlikely places, and instances 
where the scripture lessons unlock the private nature of a sonnet and 

*^ Elizabeth Bicman, " 'Sometimes 1 . . . mask in myrth lykc to a Gsmedy': Spenser's 
Amoretti," SpS 4 (1983): 134, writing of the comic coherence of the sonnet sequence, reads 
Am. 2'» "Vnquiet thought" as "phallic pressure" and cites it as one example of the 
amtrretti'i forcplay. 

Introduction 31 

enforce a new reading are the rule rather than the exception. Amoretti 4, for 
example, which opens with a reference to January, closes with a cryptic 
joke, whose intent is delicately serious. 

For lusty spring now in his timely howre, 
is ready to come forth him to receiue: 
and warnes the Earth with diuers colord flowre, 
to decke hir selfe, and her faire mantle weaue. 

Then you faire flowre, in whom fresh youth doth raine, 
prepare your selfe new loue to entertaine. (8-14) 

The sonnet was written for Saturday 26 February, for which the second 
lesson at evening prayer is 1 Corinthians 7; Paul, speaking of virginity, 
counsels: "if anie man thinke that it is vncomlie for his virgine, if she passe 
the flowre of her age, and nede so require, let him do what he wil, he 
sinneth not: let them be maried" (v. 36). Spenser has accepted the image of 
the virgin and the flower for the culminating admonition of the final 
couplet. But, given the difference in age between Spenser and Elizabeth 
Boyle, the fact that this verse caught Spenser's eye gives the couplet a 
delightful twist. It was Spenser who was the elderly one and past the flower 
of his age. Elizabeth Boyle, being probably in her late teens, was the youn- 
ger "faire flowre," who was not affected by the strictures of the Pauline 
injunction. The age difference also allows him to structure the sonnet 
around the traditional adage, used of an older man marrying a younger 
woman, of "January marrying May," anticipating thereby the alignment of 
spring and May in Amoretti 10 and 76. Spenser has, therefore, turned the 
scriptural verse, so that it reflects disadvantageously upon himself and 
favorably upon his betrothed. The final Pauline admonition, "let them be 
married," remains unspoken, although it is clear what is implied by "pre- 
pare your selfe new loue to entertaine." The poem thus represents a clever 
play on the scriptural allusion and discloses a humor and tender playfulness 
that makes of the sonnet a private love-knot in a manner proper to amoretti. 
Likewise the hyperbole of Amoretti 10 avoids becoming offensive or 
ridiculous through the further substance and interest it acquires from the 
semi-theological and scripturally based undertones of the initial quatrain. 

VNrighteous Lord of loue what law is this. 

That me thou makest thus tormented be? 

the whiles she lordeth in licentious blisse 

of her freewill, scorning both thee and me. 
See how the Tyrannesse doth joy to see 

the huge massacres which her eyes do make. (1-6) 

32 Introduction 

The sonnet's opening invocation, "Vnrighteous Lord of loue," is a clear 
recasting of the last verse which Spenser read at morning prayer for Friday 
1 February, with which Amoretti 10 corresponds, Psalm 11.8, "For the 
righteous Lorde loueth . . . ." The inverted opening also establishes a frame- 
work which will wittily set the sonnet against the propriety of the day's 
scripture lessons. 

The sonnet's rhetorical question "what law is this" is a deliberate echo 
of the question in the day's second lesson at morning prayer, Mark 1, 
"What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for he commandeth the 
foule spirits with autoritie" (v. 27), which concludes the first Marcan 
account of the man "tormented" by an "vncleane spirit." The spirit further 
exclaims, "what haue we to do with thee, . . . lesus of Nazaret? ... I know 
thee what thou art, euen that holie one of God" (v. 24; in Mark 5, the 
second account, he continues, "I charge thee by God, that thou torment 
me not" (v. 7), to which is attached the sidenote, "He abuseth the Name 
of God, to mainteine his tyrannic"). Spenser combines the interrogative, 
"What thing is this," the "autoritie," which he renders as "law," and the 
"tormented," into the sonnet's opening question. In the second quatrain he 
procedes to associate the lady with the powers of unrighteousness that cried 
out, "Art thou come to destroy us" (v. 24), by borrowing from the "tyran- 
nie" of the gospel's later sidenote to attribute to her a similar destructive 
intent: "See how the Tyrannesse ... / ... huge massacres ... do make." 
Finally Spenser has taken cognizance of the day's second lesson at evening 
prayer, 1 Corinthians 13, Paul's hymn of love. Where in Paul's hymn love 
"disdaineth not," in Spenser's sonnet the lady is guilty of "scorning both 
thee and me;" where love "reioyceth not in iniquitie," the lady "doth ioy 
to see / the huge massacres," and where love "doeth not boast it self," the 
lady's heart is accounted "proud." 

Spenser felt it cleverly appropriate to compose a sonnet which specifi' 
cally, although in an obviously hyperbolic mode, acknowledged the "Lord 
of loue," for an occasion when Paul's encomium to love was one of the 
scripture readings. As well, he has fashioned Mark's detail directly into a 
theological conceit. The unrighteous are those who remain reprobate and of 
a fallen state. Yet, although the man with the "vncleane spirit" is unright- 
eous and given over to lawlessness, the law of Christ is greater, "for he 
commandeth the foule spirits with autoritie, and they obey him." A right- 
eousness thereby accrues to the poet, for he has turned the sonnet against 
the lady who remains associated with the devil's party throughout. 

TTie sonnet's conventional hyperbole remains apparent; its adjectives are 
exaggerated and overstated: "huge massacres," "mightie vengeance," 
"humbled harts," But the scripture references further advance the sonnet's 
intent. That Spenser is prepared to associate his betrothed with the powers 

Introduction 33 

of darkness can only be construed as good-natured teasing. The scripture 
readings explicate an intimacy not otherwise apparent, and the intent of the 
concluding couplet only becomes intelligible once the humor that lies 
behind the text is revealed: 

That I may laugh at her in equall sort, 

as she doth laugh at me and makes my pain her sport. 

On the other hand Amoretti 24 strikes a tone which is less proper: 

WHen I behold that beauties wonderment. 

And rare perfection of each goodly part: 

of natures skill the onely complement, 

I honor and admire the makers art. 
But when 1 feele the bitter balefull smart, 

which her fayre eyes vnwares doe worke in mee: 

that death out of theyr shiny beames doe dart, 

I thinke that I a new Pandora see; 
Whom all the Gods in councell did agree, 

into this sinful! world from heauen to send: 

that she to wicked men a scourge should bee, 

for all their faults with which they did offend. 
But since ye are my scourge I will intreat, 

that for my faults ye will me gently beat. 

Sperwer opens his sonnet by commending in his beloved the grace which 
complements mortal nature. His beloved becomes a new Pandora: her task 
is to cleanse the natural "faults" which afflict the poet. Spenser has twisted 
the classical source to fit his compliment, because Pandora was sent to 
punish with evil rather than cleanse from it. However, the reference to her 
as a "scourge" cannot readily be explained. A first reading suggests a sonnet 
which is the result of a clever working, which is technically correct, but 
which ends with a rather out-of-character final couplet. 

But the second lesson at morning prayer for Friday 15 February, Mark 
15, with which Amoretti 24 corresponds, throws a different light on the 
sonnet, for it suggests that Spenser has written a sonnet that is clearly 
risque. Mark 15 recounts in detail the scourging ("when he had scourged 
him") and death of Christ (vv. 15-20). The gospel reading also suggests 
Spenser's train of thought: having read the gospel account of the scourging, 
he has retained the word "scourge," transferred its sense to the context of 
revenge, and composed a sonnet, in whose sestet "scourge" is used in both 
its vengeful and its physical sense. 

34 Introduction 

The image of the "scourge," then, corresponds plainly with the Marcan 
account. But the second lesson at evening prayer, 2 Corinthians 1 1 , suggests 
that Spenser had little option but to compose for the day a sonnet con- 
cerned with scourging and beating, because in it Paul refers repeatedly to his 
own beatings: "in stripes aboue measure," "fiue times receiued I fortie 
stripes saue one," "I was thrise beaten with roddes" (vv. 23-25). 

The reasons why Spenser has chosen to identify his lady as "a new Pan- 
dora" are less patent. He was, at the very least, drawing upon a tradition 
with which he was well acquainted. He had already translated du Bellay's 
nineteenth sonnet, "Tout le parfait dont le ciel nous honnore," from 
Antiquitez de Rome, in which Pandora, an amalgam of good and evil, had 
become a symbol for Rome, the eternal city: 

All the mishap, the which our dales outweares. 
All the good hap of th'oldest times afore, 
Rome in the time of her great ancesters, 
Like a Pandora, locked long in store.'^^ 

The custom of associating Rome and Pandora was frequent in the 16th 
century. A Rome-like city, for example, constitutes the background of the 
well-known Renaissance Pandora of Jean Cousin. The painting has reclining 
in its foreground a sensuous nude, with a serpent curled around her arm, 
while the space between her and the background is bridged by an arch from 
which is suspended a plate bearing the inscription, "EVA PRIMA PAN- 
DORA."'*'^ The iconographic identification of Rome, Pandora and Eve, 
and the serpent (curled around Pandora/Eve's arm) was founded, in turn, on 
the opening verses of the day's second lesson at evening prayer, in which 
Paul warns against impurity infecting the true church: "But I feare lest as 
the serpent beguiled Eue through his subtiltie, so your mindes shoulde be 
corrupte from the simplicitie that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11.3). The 
Geneva Bible's sidenote to the verse identified the threat to the church as 
"the arrogancie of the false apostles . . . who soght nothing els, but to ouer 
throwe the Church." To accommodate his sonnet to the scriptural verse, 
Spenser has made the standard Protestant association of Eve and the serpent 
with Rome, and with Pandora, and has subsequently associated Pandora 

*' Ruines of Rome, 257-60. 

*^ Dora and Erwin Panofsky, Pandora's Box. The Changing Aspects of a Mythical Symbol 
(London, 1956), 58-65, who sec a strong correspondence between the Eva Prima Par\dora 
of Cousin and the Lutetia Nova Pandora, which formed part of the triumphal arch marking 
the entry of Henry II of France into Paris in 1549, and hypothesize that the painting 
originally intended two figures, one personating Paris in the guise of the "new Pandora," 
the other Rome in the guise of the "old Pandora." 

Introduction 35 

both with 2 Corinthians 11 's allusions to "beating," with which he has 
concluded the sonnet, and with Mark 15's image of "scourge," which he 
has used in its twofold sense of both a whip and an instrument of divine 



Yet more of the sonnet is indebted to Mark 15. The opening quatrain's 
claim that the lady's beauty is greater than the natural creation, "of natures 
skill the onely complement," identifies her with the new and greater 
creation brought about by Christ's passion and death. In the second qua- 
train the poet identifies himself with Christ, who was also subjected to the 
"bitter balefull smart" of death. In the third the roles are reversed and the 
lady, a new Pandora, is identified with Christ, who was sent "into this 
sinfull world from heauen," that he might suffer and be scourged; so the 
lady is "to wicked men a scourge." As Christ bore the sins and faults of all, 
so the lady will also drive out "all their faults with which they did offend." 
In the final couplet the lady is the means by which the poet's faults will be 
cleansed, but now the poet is identified with Christ and Paul, who both 
bore harsh scourgings, while he pleads for a gentle one. 

The sonnet's corresponding scripture readings thereby expand a single 
reading of the sonnet into a poem that moves on a number of levels. The 
way that Spenser has manipulated the scriptural roles by shifting and 
reversing the christic identifications must be construed as audacious; the 
final couplet, especially, becomes a loaded remonstrating which involves a 
trusting and suggestive coyness. On an intimate level the attraction of the 
sonnet lies in its secret daring and the thrill that such clandestine readings 
might provide. Thus the private and intimate nature of the amoretti is 
revealed as ranging from straightforward compliment to the most discreet of 
praises: the playfulness of Amoretti 4 and the slightly fescennine impropriety 
of Amoretti 24 disclose their smiling good humor and hint at how Spenser 
has used the associations of the daily scripture lessons to create a range of 
voices and covertly to extend the impact of a sonnet's initial direction. 

During this first section Spenser's versatility is manifest in the way in 
which his adopted convention sits nicely in place and its requirements are 
easily met. But, just when such mastery is acquired, Spenser turns upon the 
convention and begins subtly to parody its Petrarchism.^*^ He uses the 

*^ Spenser also refers to "the euills . . . hydden in the baskette of Pandora," when 
discussing the need for a scourge for papist Ireland in the opening exchanges of A View of 
the Present State of Ireland, 44.13-15 & 45.44, "that AUmighty god hathe not yeat 
Appointed the tyme of her reformacion or that he reserueth her in this vnquiet state still, 
for some secrete skourge, which shall by her Come vnto Englande." 

** The parodic has often been generally noted, although seldom instanced. See Louis 
Martz, "The Amoretti: 'Most Goodly Temperature,'" in William Nelson, ed. Form and 

36 Introduction 

scripture readings to endow his sonnets with a voice which, in being too 
forceful, mocks the received. He seems increasingly to have found the 
Petrarchist tradition an inadequate vehicle to convey the final "simple truth 
and mutuall good will" {Amoretti 65.11), which will bind the poet and his 
betrothed. During this first section of the sequence, however, he confines 
himself to extending the postured and self-absorbed nature of conceited 
love, only gradually discarding the capricious and whimsical in favor of a 
heavy and more mocking tone. The parody is paralleled by an increase in 
the sonnets' cautionary nature as they become more serious-minded and 
devotional, each movement preparing the way for the more devotional 
sonnets of Easter and after. 

Amoretti 46 is one of the few in the sequence which apparently refers to 
an actual incident. The poet, having visited his lady and having been bid 
leave, is delayed by a storm. The actuality of the occasion is reinforced by 
the adjective, "prefixed," which not only posits an agreed limited period of 
time, but also carries a sense of the prognosticatory and the ominous, as no 
doubt the threatening rack of clouds were. But the sonnet also profits from 
its accompanying day's lesson to advance its tragi-comic impact, because the 
poet throughout retains a propriety associated with Christ's innocence. 

WHen my abodes prefixed time is spent. 

My cruell fayre streight bids me wend my way: 

but then from heauen most hideous stormes are sent 

as willing me against her will to stay. 

Whom then shall I or heauen or her obay? 

the heauens know best what is the best for me: 
but as she will, whose will my life doth sway, 
my lower heauen, so it perforce must bee. 

But ye high heuens, that all this sorowe see, 

sith all your tempests cannot hold me backe: 
as wage your stormes, or else both you and she 
will both together me too sorely wrack. 

Convention in the Poetry of Edmund Spenser (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1961), 157- 
61; Robert Kellogg, 'Thought's Astonishment and the Dark Conceits of Spenser's 
Amoretti," in J. R. Elliott, ed. The Priru:e of Poeu, Essays on Edmund Sperxset (New York: 
New York Univ. Press, 1968), 142 takes issue with Martz' argument, because he "collapses 
the distinction between the historical Spenser and the speaker of the sonnets." Peter M. 
Cummings likewise disagrees with Martz and expands Kellogg's argument in "Spenser's 
Amoretti as an Allegory of Lx)ve," TSLL 12 (1970-71): 164. Joseph Locwenstein ("Echo's 
Ring: Orpheus and Spenser's Career," ELR 16 [19861: 293) has argued that "the wedding 
volume of 1595 engages in a critique of the degenerate Petrarchanism." 

Introduction 37 

Enough it is for one man to sustaine 

the stormes, which she alone on me doth raine. 

Spenser, having established the actual event in the opening quatrain, 
reshapes it in the light of the second lesson at morning prayer for Saturday 
9 March, Luke 20, with which the sonnet corresponds. The chapter con- 
tains the scriptural episode in which the scribes and elders question Christ 
as to the source of his authority which must be obeyed. They asked: "Tell 
us by what autoritie thou doest these things, or who is he that hathe giuen 
thee this autoritie? And he answered and said vnto them, 1 also wil aske you 
one thing: tell me therefore: The baptisme of John was it from heauen, or 
of men?" (vv. 2-4). Amoretti 46 reflects the gospel's dilemma in its second 
quatrain, as Spenser in imitation asks whether he should obey heaven or 
men, "Whom then shall 1 or heauen or her obay?" Where the scribes 
subsequently debated among themselves, "If we shal say from heauen, he 
wil say, Why then beleued ye him not? But if we shal say, Of men, all the 
people wil stone vs" (vv. 5-6), so also in lines 5-8 the poet debates his 
dilemma. He is forced to solve his dilemma not in favor of his own interests 
but in favor of the lady's will, resolving to go forth into the storm and 
asking that the heavens withhold their fury, because he can sustain only the 
one storm, that which the lady rains upon him. The scribes, of course, 
refuse to solve their dilemma. 

The sonnet's hyperbole is thus advanced by the dilemma of the scripture 
reading and an initial actual situation is transformed by it into an over- 
weighty and too serious argument. The scriptural echoes also magnify the 
posturing of the poet, for they imply in the end a voice too redolent of 
pretense. Because he is forced to forsake heaven and succumb to the will of 
men, the poet is maneuvered into the very position the pharisees had 
sought to avoid. His sense of being victimized and his overly plaintive 
stance eventually verge on the facetious, and caricature becomes the 
sonnet's true direction. Otherwise, in associating the lady with a position 
antipathetic to Christ's intent, he is unfair to her to an improper degree. 
On another level, of course, the sonnet always remains a conventional one 
with just the proper touch or amount of hyperbole. 

The scriptural key also expands the focus of Amoretti 47, although Spen- 
ser now drops the simple playfulness of Amoretti 46 and reverts to travesty: 

TRust not the treason of those smyling lookes, 

vntill ye haue theyr guylefuU traynes well tryde: 
for they are lyke but vnto golden hookes, 
that from the foolish fish theyr bayts doe hyde: 

So she with flattring smyles weake harts doth guyde 
vnto her loue, and tempte to theyr decay, 

38 Introduction 

whom being caught she kills with cruell pryde, 
and feeds at pleasure on the wretched pray: 

Yet euen whylst her bloody hands them slay, 

her eyes looke louely and vpon them smyle: 
that they take pleasure in her cruell play, 
and dying doe them selues of payne beguyle. 

O mighty charm which makes men loue theyr bane, 
and thinck they dy with pleasure, liue with payne. 

The thematic and verbal correspondences between the sonnet and the 
readings for Sunday 10 March make it clear that the poet has associated the 
lady with the enemies of Christ. Luke 21, the day's second lesson at morn- 
ing prayer, cautions frequently against deception: "Take hede, that ye be 
not deceiued. . . . And when ye heare of warres and seditions, be not 
afrayed" (vv. 8-9). Luke's theme of deception and sedition becomes Amor' 
etti 47's opening conceit, "Trust not the treason of those smyling lookes." 
The gospel continues to repeat the warning, because "as a snare shal it 
come on all them" (v. 35, to which is attached the sidenote, "To catch and 
intangle them"). The "catch" is reflected in the sonnet's "being caught," 
and the "snare" is echoed in the sonnet's general theme of entrapment and 
in its "guylefuU traynes." As well, the poet's condemnation of the lady, 
because "her bloody hands them slay," recalls the gospel's prophecies that 
"they shal lay their hands on you" (v. 12), and "some of you shal they put 
to death" (v. 16). 

On the one hand, then, Spenser continues to allow the public poet in 
Amoretti 47 to ply his conventional conceits and metaphors. He will even 
allow him sufficient nuances here and there to suggest that his voice is not 
quite as plain-speaking as the published text might imply. The sonnet's final 
couplet, for example, with its plaintive vocative, its insistent paradox, and 
its quasi-oxymoron, verges on the histrionic, and its vocal inflections 
contribute to the righteousness that the conventional poet appropriates to 
himself. But the scriptural echoes enlarge the poem's histrionics, for they 
ally the lady's smile with the plottings and cunning of other persecutors. 
The sonnet's rancor also acquires a further edge, because the "bloody hands 
them slay" is similarly associated and casts the lady in an even less favorable 
light than the conventional indictment might suggest and excuse. Yet, 
because the sonnet's rancor is of the realm of artifice, and because the lady's 
behavior must in the end remain excusable, what the scriptural associations 
finally achieve is to overload the sonnet's indictment with too weighty an 
impact. In the final analysis the poem can only be read as travesty: only if 
the poet's covert voice, scripturally knowledgeable, is construed as too 
feigned, can escape and relief from the scriptural compounding and over- 

Introduction 39 

statement be found, as Spenser subtly laughs at the very convention he is 

A similar top-heavy effect is obtained in Amoretti 49. It opens with the 
standard Petrarchist paradox, "Fayre cruell," which it develops within the 
parameters of the legendary cockatrice or basilisk, the stock Petrarchist 
image of love and combat. The mythical reptile, born oi a cock's egg and 
hatched by a serpent, matches exactly the striking image in Tuesday 12 
March's morning prayer Psalm 58.3-4, with which Amoretti 49 corresponds, 

"The vngodly are frowarde euen from their mothers wombe They are as 

venemous as the poyson of a Serpent: euen like the deafe Adder that 
stoppeth her eares." (Spenser, in identifying the day's reference to "Ser- 
pent" and "Adder" with the cockatrice or basilisk, has accepted the 
traditional association of Psalm 58.3-4 with Vulgate Psalm 91.13, "Super 
aspidem et basilicum ambulabis, / Et conculcabis leonem et draconem.") 

FAyre cruell, why are ye so fierce and cruell? 

Is it because your eyes haue powre to kill? 

then know, that mercy is the mighties Jewell, 

and greater glory thinke to saue, then spill. 
But if it be your pleasure and proud will, 

to shew the powre of your imperious eyes: 

then not on him that neuer thought you ill, 

but bend your force against your enemyes. 
Let them feele th'utmost of your crueltyes, 

and kill with looks as Cockatrices doo: 

but him that at your footstoole humbled lies, 

with mercifuU regard, giue mercy too. 
Such mercy shal you make admyred to be, 

so shall you liue by giuing life to me. 

TTie sonnet is replete with word-plays and etymological puns which make it 
a more elaborate working of the conceit than most. Its vocabulary plays 
extensively on an etymological pun on PdaiA-iCTKoq, which means either a 
basilisk or "imperious" and "mightie." He has also wittily played upon the 
Vulgate's adjacent conculcabis (from con + calco, to tread under foot) and 
created an etymological pleonasm, for cockatrice was thought to have 
derived from calcatrix (= she who treads under foot), the feminine form of 
the noun from calco. He has then explicated the pun. in the next line, "him 
that at your footstoole humbled lies." The line is itself an echo of the psalm 
verse, "vntill I make thine enemies thy footestoole" (Psalm 110.1), which 
Christ's triumph over death was customarily seen as fulfilling, and which 
the day's second lesson at morning prayer Luke 23 recounts. Through the 
spilling of blood, Christ's death purchases mercy; so the poet also commends 

40 Introduction 

mercy: "then know, that mercy is the mighties Jewell." As Luke records the 
jibes of Christ's enemies, "he saued others: let him saue him self" (v. 35) 
and "If thou be the King of the Jewes, saue thy self" (v. 37), so the lady is 
advised that it is a "greater glory ... to saue, then spill." As "Herode with 
his men or warre, despised him, and mocked him" (v. 11), so the poet calls 
on the lady to mock her enemies and not himself. The final couplet con- 
verts the life Christ gained into the hope that the lady, by living, will also 
award the poet life. 

On the one hand, then, the standard conceits of Amoretti 49, "Fayre 
cruell," "imperious eyes," "mercy," "Cockatrices," all establish it initially 
as a piece of perfunctory artifice, while the poet's posturing is what might 
be expected of the thwarted lover. But the scriptural associations of the 
day's readings cryptically cast the lady in a role beyond the customary 
"Fayre cruell," for her action in killing has been covertly allied with those 
who caused Christ's death; only in the final couplet is she associated with 
the christic example of life and mercy. Moreover, the poet's voice, already 
strident upon first reading, now becomes impossibly so. The scriptural key, 
by reinforcing the voice as that of a helpless victim, affirms the poet's 
posturing as excessively plaintive and exposes both his courtly and poetic 
roles to caricature. His covert voice, revealed as exaggeratedly histrionic, 
finally succeeds in mocking itself and thus calls into disrepute the very 
vehicle with which it has chosen to express itself. 

In the Elizabethan sonnet sequences of Spenser's contemporaries, 
particularly Sidney and Shakespeare, the lover's public voice and role are 
manipulated and even suborned by the author to reveal a range and variety 
of tones. The formal presentation and insistent proprieties of Spenser's 
Amoretti, however, initially mask any such manipulation. As well, the 
accented final syllables of Spenser's lines and the interlocking patterns of 
final sounds create a mellifluous voice which contrasts markedly with the 
insistent voice that juts out from the lines of many Sidneian or Shakespear- 
ean sonnets. Spenser's authorial working is thus hidden behind the amor' 
etti's fluent formality. 

Spenser, however, in choosing frequently to parody the form he has 
adopted is not remote from his contemporaries. Indeed, like other sonnet 
cycles of the late sixteenth century, the rigor of Amoretti lies partially in his 
willingness to turn against his received Petrarchism, which in many ways 
came to be fashionable only to the degree that, once established, it could be 
parodied. Moreover, his parodic intent finally surpasses that of his contem- 
poraries who turn their Petrarchism to parodic advantage without allowing 
it to collapse into travesty. 

The scriptural key, furthermore, by unlocking other readings, shows 
Spenser's adroit mastery of tone to be greater than that of his contempo- 

Introduction 41^ 

raries, and his use of the fashionable conceit and the sonnet structure to be 
free and subject to little constraint. The sonnets' language is underlaid at 
least once by their scriptural subsidium, and frequently more than once, 
either by their extensive and witty word-play or by the too high-flown 
hyperbole and bombast that the scripture readings show to be present. 
Layers of language are intermingled to create differing registers of voice and 
self-dialogue, so that humor, salaciousness, irony, parody, and ultimately 
travesty, are all revealed. 

On the public level, then, the sequence observes the convention in 
which the poet-lover plays out his existence in "this worlds theatre in 
which we stay" (Amoretti 54.1). The scriptural subtext, however, in creating 
different vocal and self-dialogic registers, finally allows the poet's own voice 
alone to be sacrosanct and inviolate. The voice that gives birth to the 
irony, the mock anger, even the travesty, is the voice that profits from 
accepted scriptural veracity to assert itself as the ultimate register by which 
truth can be adjudged. 

Because the ironic is hidden from the public eye, an artifice has been 
fashioned in which the privilege of discerning the covert voice is awarded 
only to the lady. The amoretti, then, are deeply grounded in the reality of 
Spenser and Elizabeth Boyle, because the poet observes the convention that 
the lady's "deep wit" can "construe well" {Amoretti 43.13-14) factors 
hidden in the sonnet. In challenging her to construe the detail of his wit he 
has fashioned a figure who is knowledgeable, conversant with languages, and 
striving to be, if not actually, his equal.'*^ On the public level the sonnets 
assert always that both the poet and lady were of sufficient awareness and 
sophistication to see the amoretti's artifices for what they were. But, because 
the secret of the covert voice is presented as restricted to two, natural 
enough to verses so closely ensconced in a betrothal period, their immensely 
personal nature remains hidden. Indeed the absence of an authorial dedica- 
tion or introduction to Amoretti makes the authorial presence even more 
discreet and anonymous. 

Yet the scripture passages reveal, in moments of extreme parody, the 
existence of Spenser's own voice embedded in the amoretti. Moreover, 
because it is the same voice of reason and righteousness which will speak 
publicly in the devotional sonnets of the second part of the sequence, the 
parodic amoretti are precursors that set the scene for the new genre of 
soruiets that will finally eventuate for the period around Easter. The scrip- 

*^ For the same conclusion from a different direction, see William C. Johnson, 
"Gender Fashioning and the Dynamics of Mutuality in Spenser's Amoretti," ES 74.6 
(1993): 503-19. 

42 Introduction 

tural associations thus reveal Spenser putting his parodic sonnets to good 
effect. He intersperses them during the final days of the amorettVs first 
section with sonnets of a more serious nature and estabUshes them as studies 
for what will come. The covert voice discovered behind the parody is the 
same voice that will speak publicly later in the sequence and in Epithalami- 
on. As the amoretti progress they reveal their devolving nature, ultimately 
reaching their own unsustainability; the sequence can now either collapse 
upon itself or be reinvested with new found proprieties and vigor. Subse- 
quent sonnets, and the love they portray, are no longer the fashionably con- 
ventional. That mode has been surpassed as the sonnets, with their emptied 
form, prepare the way for a new, personal, and particularly English Protes- 
tant resolution to the sequence. . / 

B. The Sonnets for the Easter Period 

Spenser has established the sonnets, which correspond to the fortnight 
between Palm and Low Sundays, as the turning-point of Amoretti. The 
parodic, which prepared the way for the devotional, has served its purpose, 
while the reflective nature of the Easter sonnets demonstrates how carefully 
he has gone about their writing.'^^ Their thoughtfulness confirms that he 
intends that the sequence should now have an overall design, even if it will 
later be modified by the addition of the Expectation sonnets. Because the 
scriptural allusions no longer stand out sharply, but are worked smoothly 
into the sonnets' texture, the poet's covert voice is also much closer to the 
sonnets' surface than on earlier occasions. 

The sonnets of a more devotional nature are prefaced by Amoretti 58 and 
59, in which the poet is preoccupied with the dangers of self-assurance and 
the flesh. These hesitancies are overcome as the poet takes stock of his life 
and courtship and looks forward to "this yeare ensuing" in Amoretti 60. 
Amoretti 61, written for Palm Sunday, 24 March 1594, makes the poet's 
resolve explicit. It first establishes the lady's birth as an analogue of 
Christ's. The feast's Epistle, Philippians 2.5-12, confirms the poet's position 
among the sonnet's "men of meane degree" (14), who "dare" to love. It is 
such men who ought not to accuse the lady of pride, "dare not hence forth 
aboue the bounds of dewtie, / t'accuse of pride or rashly blame for ought" 
(3-4). Spenser is therefore admonishing himself. The "henceforth" also 
gives the poem a forward direction. He affirms his intent not to subject the 

*' Among others, G. K. Hunter, "Spenser's Amoretti and the English Sonnet Tradi- 
tion," in Judith M. Kennedy & James H. Rcither, cds. A Theatre for Spenserians (Toronto: 
Univ, of Toronto Press, 1973), 125 confirms the sequence's change of tone, hut rightly 
qualifies his claim: "1 do not allege that what I have called a change of tone after sonnet 
62 (or to) affects every sonnet on either side of this divide." 

Introduction 43 

lady to accusation but qualifies his resolve by insisting that he will, if duty 
demands. He may so accuse or blame her, he seems to be saying, when it is 
his duty or when it is necessary and proper, but not on other occasions such 
as, for example, when poetic hyperbole might have allowed in the past. 
Amoretti 61 thus carries within it the poet's intent to resist the conventional 
and mannered conceits of earlier sonnets, and the subsequent poems of the 
Easter season generally bear out his resolve, showing Spenser to be particu- 
larly conscious of priorities that were developing in Protestant thinking on 



The pre-Lenten and Lenten sonnets had referred only infrequently to the 
poet's forthcoming marriage. Amoretti 6, for example, distinguishes initially 
between "loue" and "lusts of baser kind," both of which have their effect 
upon him, but sees the tension between them being resolved by marriage. 
The plea of the sonnet, "to knit the knot, that euer shall remaine" (14), 
hints, even at an very early stage in the sequence, that only in marriage will 
chastity and entirety be permanently accomplished. The poet's preoccupa- 
tion with the inclining of his will toward evil recurs regularly throughout 
the sequence. Amoretti 8 contrasts "base affections" with "chast desires," 
although the poet finds comfort in the healing powers of the lady: "you 
calme the storme that passion did begin." As well, the period around the 
beginning of Lent is appropriately concerned with the the improprieties of 
the flesh: Amoretti 21, written for Shrove Tuesday, makes reference to the 
"looser lookes that stir up lustes impure," with which the sonnet for Ash 
Wednesday contrasts the "flames of pure and chast desyre" {Amoretti 22.12). 

The sonnets corresponding to the middle period of Lent show an 
introspective, even melancholic tone. The poet continues to ponder his 
inner state and withdraws more and more into "my selfe, my inward selfe I 
meane" {Amoretti 45.3), where he inhabits his own private world. His sense 
of frustration is caused partly by his inability to assuage his passions. Amor' 
etti 44 complains of the "ciuill warre" that plagues and tears him asunder 
and for which reason provides no relief, "whilest my weak powres of 
passions warreid arre, / no skill can stint nor reason can aslake" (7-8). 
Although not stated, it would have been well understood that only in 
marriage will the poet find the proper skill or discernment to mitigate his 

*^ Spenser's Protestantism has been variously treated during this century, more recent 
discussion focussing on the relationship between nature and grace in The Faerie Queene, see 
A. S. P. Woodhouse, "Nature and Grace in The Faerie Queene," ELH 16 (1949): 194-228, 
and "Spenser, Nature and Grace: Mr Gang's Mode of Argument Reviewed," ELH 27 
(1960): 1-15; Robert Hoopes, " 'God Guide Thee, Guyon': Nature and Grace Reconciled 
in The Faerie Queene, Book II," RES n.s. 5 (1954): 14-24, and finally Andrea Hume, 
Edmund Spenser. Protestant Poet (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984). 

44 Introduction 

awakened passions; only then will reason "aslake" passion, by directing the 
will of both spouses to the good that is mutual chastity. As yet, however, 
the poet can find no relief in his solitariness, and the sonnets of this period 
are marked by an unresolved tension, in which the passions are at war not 
only with each other but also with grace, and the poet's unease is reflected 
in his self-preoccupied complaining. Such plaintiveness fulfills the poetic 
requirements of Spenser's Petrarchist exempla, although the consistent 
undermining and parodying of the model during this middle section of 
Amoretti reinforce the presence of a Protestant ethos of unresolved conflict. 
The sonnets subsequent to Palm Sunday indicate a resolution to these 
tensions, as Spenser celebrates the good will which is proper to the cove- 
nant of grace in which regeneration is sealed. Amoretti 65, the sonnet for 
Maundy Thursday, is the first to pronounce and uphold the "mutuall good 
will" of the betrothed and to acclaim the new freedoms that the covenant 
of marriage will bring, "two liberties ye gayne." Amoretti 65's general 
association of freedom and will foreshadows a similar conceit of captivity, 
freedom and will in Amoretti 67, and its phrases, "bondage earst dyd fly" 
and "true loue doth tye" anticipate Amoretti 67 's "sought not to fly" and 
"hir fyrmely tyde." Amoretti 67 is a cumulative sonnet and a pivotal one; its 
line, "So after long pursuit and vaine assay" (5), recollects the opening line 
of Amoretti 63, "After long stormes and tempests sad assay," and introduces 
one of the most gentle of all the amoretti',^^ its culmination is full of the 
wonderful effects of good will, which bring the betrothed together: 

There she beholding me with mylder looke, 

sought not to fly, but fearelesse still did bide: 
till I in hand her yet halfe trembling tooke, 
and with her owne goodwill hir fyrmely tyde. 

Strange thing me seemd to see a beast so wyld, 

so goodly wonne with her owne will beguyld. (8-14) 

The sonnet displays the poet's discovery of the wondrous operating, 
despite his or his "deare's" own endeavours. The state of good will to which 
the final line refers is proper to the state of regeneration. Amoretti lO's 
"licentious blisse / of her freewill" has now been surpassed; Lenten trials 
have ceded place to a sense of resolution, the will can now freely turn 
cowards good, and holiness of will can occur. 

The amoretti are shaped thus so that their direction turns on the Easter 
liturgical celebration.^' Good will, being an integral part of the regenerate 

^ Prcscott (1985), 33-76. 

^' William C. Johnson, Spenser's Amoretti: Analogies of Love (Lewisburg: Bucknell Univ. 

Introduction 45 

state, is an accomplishment of Christ's salvific act: "the will of a Christian 
is renued and purified by Christ, which appeareth in that it is so farre forth 
freed from sinne, that it can will and choose that which is good and accept- 
able to God, and refuse that which is euill."^^ At Easter, Christ's loosing 
man from the bondage of sin and his purchasing of freedom liberate the 
will, which is no longer prone to captivity. The Easter amoretti are much 
concerned with the covenant, which brings grace and freedom, and the 
images of captivity and bondage are a dominant concern during the 
week.^' But captivity is overcome by the triumph of Christ on Easter 
Sunday, who "led captiuitie captiue" (Ephesians 4.8), which Spenser cites 
in the Easter Sunday sonnet. The Easter sonnets celebrate the triumph over 
the old bondage of lust and passion, and acknowledge the newly founded 
covenant of grace, in which the will of the regenerate individual freely 
inclines towards good and in which the betrothed together will share. 

Spenser thus finds a solution to earlier tensions in contemporary Pro- 
testant thinking on marriage, which departed from received marriage 
doctrine by bringing to it the theology of the covenant. For the Elizabethan 
divine, who espoused the traditional view of marriage, the action of grace 
within the partners occurred concomitantly with the marriage ceremony, 
because that was also the manner of grace's operating in the sacraments of 
baptism and the eucharist. For the Protestant, however, grace, because of 
election, was necessarily prior to marriage, and was even construed as the 
cause of the partners' decision to marry. The covenant of marriage con- 
firmed the already existing covenant between the individuals and God and 
Protestant divines customarily identified marriage as a socio-political cove- 
nant under the term "league,"^'* a term Spenser employs in Amoretti 65.9, 

Press, 1990), 181-201 arrives at the same conclusion from a different perspective. A. Leigh 
DeNeef, Spenser and the Motives of Metaphor (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1982), 73 writing 
of Am. 68, "Christ enters the textual sequence in order to force all literal narrative places 
into accommodating Him; but His action is itself metaphoric of the Idea of Love which He 
too imitates. The reformation which Christ accomplishes is thus a model rather than an 
end, and the poet's new task at the conclusion of the sequence is to reveal how such a 
model resolves all places into one, or frees all desire to love to aspire to the divine idea of 

^^ William Perkins, A Treatise Tendirxg unto a Declaration, Whether a Man Be In a Estate 
of Damrumon, Or In the Estau of Grace, in The Workes of . . . M. William Per/cim (Cam- 
bridge, 1609), 1:370-71, cols. 2 & I. 

'^ Besides Am. 67 's images of the chase and capture, with the "deare" being "so 
goodly wonne" and "fyrmely tyde," the Maundy Thursday sonnet also treats of bondage 
and reproves her "That fondly fearels] to loose your liberty." 

^* Perkins, A Reformed Catholike: or, A Declaration shemT\g how neere we may come to the 
present Church of Rome in sundry points of Religion: and wherein we must forever depart from 
them, in Workes, 1:613, col. 2: "Now the marriages of Protestants with Papists are priuate 

46 Introduction 

the most matrimonially directed of all the amoretti: "the league twixt them, 
that loyal loue hath bound." 

Amoretti 65 corresponds with Maundy Thursday, which commemorated 
the institution of the new covenant of grace between Christ and the 
faithful, and Spenser has appropriately incorporated a covenantal view of 
marriage into his sonnet for the feast. His marriage covenant will be found- 
ed upon and will confirm the already existing covenant of grace and right- 
eousness between each partner and God. Each partner's individual covenant 
with God has been absorbed into the new covenant of themselves and God. 

There is, however, a further and more compelling reason for Spenser to 
celebrate the new covenant of grace on Maundy Thursday. In 1594, by 
extreme coincidence, the feast days of Maundy Thursday, 28 March, when 
Christ's sealing of the new covenant of love is celebrated, and St. Barnabas, 
1 1 June, when the new covenant of grace between the spouses will be 
sealed, share the same reading, John 15. The chapter is the second lesson at 
morning prayer for 28 March, on which date Holy Thursday fell in 1594, 
and is also the Gospel for the feast of St. Barnabas, John 15.12-16. The 
gospel verses acclaim the new covenant of love, and both election to it, "Ye 
haue not chosen me, but I haue chosen you," and the secret nature of that 
election, "All things that 1 haue heard of my father, haue 1 made knowen 
to you." The events of Maundy Thursday thus liturgically anticipate and 
found the covenant whose liturgical reality the feast of St. Barnabas also 
celebrates. 1 1 June's liturgical celebration in turn underwrites the spouses' 
personal reality, the new covenant of grace between themselves and God, 
which Maundy Thursday in its anticipatory way enfolds. The elegance of 
Spenser's Amoretti 65 attests to his subtle appreciation of the coincidence, 
because in it, covertly, the liturgical is made to enclose the actual. 

Spenser extends the parameters of the marriage "league" to accom- 
modate within it a reflection of a further Protestant emphasis in marriage. 
Traditional teaching about the purposes or 'ends' of marriage had been 
incorporated into the 1559 Book of Common Prayer; it accepted the received 
order of the three causes of marriage: procreation and education of children, 
a remedy against sin, and "mutuall societie, helpe and comfort." Protestant 
theology placed the covenantly allied end of "mutual societie, helpe and 
comfort" in a more prominent position and attached to it the customary 
second end, "a remedie against sin," which in earlier theology was generally 
attached to marriage's procreative first end. Divorced from its procreative 

leagues of amitie, bctwecne person and person: and therefore not to be allowed. Againe, 
Mai. 2.11. ludah halh defiled the holineise of ihe Lord which he loued, and hath married the 
daughter of a itrar\ge God: where is flatly condemned marriages made with the people of a 
false God." 

Introduction 47 

function, sexual intercourse then became a way by which mutual society 
and comfort were furthered. 

Amoretti 65 acclaims the "simple truth" of betrothal, innocent, there- 
fore, and not divided, and defines the nature of the "league" as founded on 
"mutuall good will." Spenser thus explicitly accords the covenantly associ- 
ated end of marriage, "mutuall societie," the priority his Protestant col- 
leagues accorded it and endorses their position by appending to it the 
adjunctive end of the remedying of sin, "to salue each others wound": 

the league twixt them, that loyal loue hath bound: 

but simple truth and mutuall good will, 

seekes with sweet peace to salue each others wound: (10-12) 

The sonnet's concluding couplet defines the covenant of love as inhabit- 
ed by faith: 

There fayth doth fearlesse dwell in brasen towre, 

and spotlesse pleasure builds her sacred bowre. (13-14) 

In paralleling "fayth" and "spotlesse treasure," Spenser articulates the 
standard association between the Easter events, faith, and a spotless and 
spiritual marriage. Because faith is a prerequisite of the covenant of grace, 
it is also a prerequisite of the marriage covenant. Through faith, the "use" 
of the marriage bed is "made a holy and undefiled action." According to 
Perkins, the word of God gives the spouses a "warrant, that they may 
lawfully doe this action; because whatsoeuer is not done of faith (which 
faith must be grounded on Gods word) is a sinne."^^ Likewise Spenser in 
Amoretti 65 affirms that faith renders the impairments of the flesh a "spot- 
lesse pleasure," and, by remedying the lust of the flesh, absorbs its difficul- 
ties into the freedom awarded by the covenant of grace. Marriage has 
become the solution to the passions and the flesh, those passions that in the 
past reason could not "aslake" {Amoretti 44.8). 

Spenser's debt to Protestant marriage doctrine in the amoretti of the 
Easter period lies, finally, with their baptismal allusions. Protestants dis- 
avowed any sacramental function in marriage: just as the covenant is prior 
to the marriage, so it is prior to the sacrament. ^^ Since the events of 
Easter are those upon which both the covenant and the sacraments are 
founded, the covenant of grace confirmed in marriage is underpinned by the 

^^ Perkins, Christian Oecorwmie, in Workes, 3:689, col. 1 & 2. 

^* Perkins, A Golden Chaine, in Workes, 1:73, col. 1, explains that, 'The couenant of 
grace is absolutely necessarie to saluation . . . but a Sacrament is not absolutely necessarie, 
but onely as it is a proppe and stay for faith to leane vpxjn." 

48 Introduction 

same confirming and sealing that occurs originally in baptism. In the 
sonnets of Easter Spenser accepts baptism as the archetypical sign or token 
of the covenant of grace, of which marriage is also a sign. 

There are references to baptism in Amoretti 67, where the deer recalls 
not only the "hart" of the Sicut cervus, the baptismal psalm, but also the 
Old Testament model of marriage, the marital admonition from Proverbs 
5.18-19, which links baptism to marriage through the cervine association of 
"rejoyce with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the louing hinde and 
pleasant roe: let her breasts satisfie thee at all times, and delite in her loue 
continually."^^ Amoretti 70 for Easter Tuesday makes reference to immer- 
sion (12), while Amoretti 74's division of nature, grace, and glory reflects the 
poet's three births, the second of which is baptism. Amoretti 75 further 
suggests that he is prepared, finally, to define his marriage in the baptismal 
and covenantal context of naming, which underwrites and seals the cove- 
nant of marriage. The sonnet was written for the First Sunday after Easter, 
7 April, when the neophytes, having been born again through water and 
having received their names, are required no longer to wear their white 
vestments. The sonnet's fusing together of the images of water, name, the 
immortality that rebirth brings, and the "vaine" nature of earthly endeavor, 
which are all found in the day's readings, implies a baptismal context which 
seals the betrothed's covenant of grace. ^^ It also brings to a close the 
sonnets of the Easter period, Spenser seemingly intending to write no 
further sonnets. There were appropriate religious and liturgical reasons for 

'^ Cleaver, A Godlie Forme of Householde Gouemment, 183 glosses the verses: "And 
therfore Pro. 5.19. we see that the wife should be to him, as the louing Hind: namely, 
delightful, and one in whom he may delight: that as the Hart delighteth in the Hind: so 
the wife should be a delight vnto her husband: and so in like manner, she ought to take 
delight in him." The increased frequency with which Spenser employs the term "delight," 
during this period which liturgically celebrates the foundation of marriage, is pronounced. 
After only 3 occurrences in the first 58 sonnets compare Am. 59.8: "false delight;" Am. 
62.14: "chaunge old yeares annoy to new delight;" Am. 63.11: "whose least delight;" Am. 
72.9: "There my firaile fancy fed with full delight;" Am. 73.11: "learne with rare delight, 
/ to sing your name;" Am. 76.2: "The neast of loue, the lodging of delight." 

^' The association of naming with baptism is clearcut, as indeed is the Protestant 
association of "name" with the covenant of grace, see Gee, The Ground of Christianitie 
(London, 1594), 70, "What meaneth Christ, when hee saith: Baptising them into the 
name, or in the name of the Father, and of the Sonne, and of the Holie ghost? He dooth 
not simplie commaund them to baptize such as do beleue, but to consigne them in 
baptisme into the name, that is to say, into the possession, right, religion, and grace of the 
father, and of the sonne, and of the holie spirit, to be the people of God, the partakers of 
his couenaunt and grace. And if we doo expound into the name, that is to say, into the 
faith and confession of his name, or in to his possession, power, and iurisdiction, or into 
the strength and power, or into the couenant and grace, of the father, and the sonne, and 
the holie spirit, it is no matter, for all this is true, and agreeth with the nature of bap- 

Introduction 49 

his decision to finish here. He has presented his marriage as a sign of the 
covenant which is sealed during the days of Easter, and the sonnets that 
belong to the period culminate the process of celebration in Amoretti. Easter 
Monday's sonnet acknowledges the poet's "happy purchase. . . . / gotten at 
last with labour and long toyle," and celebrates the positive realities of 
"honour, loue, and chastity" {Amoretti 69.8). Amoretti 75 ends on a note of 
finality, with its concluding line pointing to a marriage that will persist here- 
after: "our loue shall Hue, and later life renew." The liturgical occasion of Low 
Sunday has, for the moment, brought the sequence to an acceptable end, by 
acknowledging the sealing by grace of the everlasting covenant of marriage. 
The framing of the amoretti thus far turns, therefore, on their distinc- 
tively Protestant consciousness. In the first section of Amoretti Spenser, 
having begun the sequence by meeting the requirements of Petrarchist exem- 
pla, submitted the model to parody. In the sonnets of Easter and there- 
abouts, his poetic vision has had recourse to a Protestant doctrine of 
marriage, that sees the covenant of grace as the unifying and sanctifying 
factor which resolves the tensions of a fallen state. In marriage God's "pre- 
ventyng and workyng grace" heals the individual's impaired will and, 
through mutuality, renders it "good wyll." The covenant of grace, to which 
Spenser's marriage will attest, thus provides a distinctively Protestant reso- 
lution to the tensions that inhabit earlier amoretti. Such an outcome is 
uniquely Spenserian: in Amoretti his avowal is that the physical can be ac- 
commodated in the mutuality of Christian love; later in Epithalamion, it will 
be seen, the physical is seen as sealing the covenant of the spouses and God. 
For Spenser the covenant of marriage is thus profoundly societal and mundane. 

C. The Sonnets of Expectation 

Spenser's bringing the amoretti to a climax around the Easter season has 
enabled him to resolve the tension between the sonnets' artifice and their 
Protestant sense of reality by absorbing the artifice neatly into the weightier 
devotional. However the addition of Amoretti 76-89, the sonnets of Expec- 
tation— marked by the poet's lament "Thus I the time with expectation 
spend" {Amoretti 87.9) — indicates a late decision to provide the sequence 
with a new overall direction. 

Spenser has written the subsequent amoretti for reasons in addition to 
the fact that 3 May 1594, with which Amoretti 76 corresponds, began a new 
round of gospel readings and thus occasioned him to re-engage in composing 
sonnets, or the fact that he must still address himself to a marriage that 
remains in the future, even though the marriage's liturgical reality has 
already been properly anticipated in the sonnet for Maundy Thursday. 
Protestant writers in their marriage manuals upheld the couple's election to 
the covenant of grace as prior to marriage. On the one hand, then, the 

50 Introduction 

Easter celebrations attested to the divine workings which brought the 
couple together and which confirmed the election of each in the covenant 
of grace. On the other hand, the workings of divine grace are only final 
once they have overcome the couple's separateness and sealed in marriage 
the mutuality that will wholly embody the election of both to the covenant 
of grace. It is a belief in this peculiar instrumentality of God in marriage 
that has moved Spenser to append the fourteen extra sonnets and to give 
Amoretti at a late stage a new direction. 

In so doing he has built on traces and allusions to God's providence 
already established in the Easter sonnets. Its workings are implicit in the 
opening of the Good Friday Amoretti 66, which alludes to a marriage made 
in heaven, although in a cautiously hyperbolic way: v / 

TO all those happy blessings which ye haue, 

with plenteous hand by heauen vpon you thrown, 

this one disparagement they to you gaue, 

that ye your loue lent to so meane a one. (1-4) 

The poet, by including marriage, "disparagement," among the blessings be- 
stowed on the lady by heaven, alludes to the nature of divine instrumentali- 
ty in marriage. The love of each elect for the other cannot be separated 
from the will of God, which instituted the covenant of marriage to relieve 
each individual from the burden of solitariness and it is with mutuality that 
Spenser concludes the sonnet. The heavenly light which shines in the 
darkness, having enlightened one partner, will reflect upon and enhance the 
light of the other: 

Yet since your light hath once enlumind me, 

with my reflex yours shall encreased be. (13-14) 

It is for this mutuality of love that Spenser prays in the Easter Sunday 
sonnet. Because Christ's love has dearly bought redemption, it will be 
weighed "worthily" by the betrothed. They will both return Christ's love to 
himself, "likewise loue thee for the same againe," and manifest his love to 
each other, "with loue . . . one another entertayne;" Christ's love is that in 
which their mutual love now inheres. 

Spenser's voice in Amoretti 68 is forthrightly personal. For the moment 
the covert has been dropped. The sonnet's use of the common pronoun 
"vs," is one of only three occasions in the sequence^^ and is precise. 

*' The other two are also hcinj? sonnets of some import, the New Year sonnet, Am. 62, 
and the Expectation sonnet, Am. 87. Am. 62 records the movement from things past to 
a fresh beginning and hope, "new yeares icy," and also includes an explicit prayer, "let 

Introduction * 51 

because the sonnet prays for the conjoining of love and persons that mar- 
riage will bring. Likewise, in Amoretti 7 1 , the Easter Wednesday sonnet, the 
dominant image is of an intricate drawing, as each of the betrothed seeks to 
ensnare the other, until their mutuality is so interwoven that it becomes a 
sign of God's "eternall peace." 

But immediately after the central Easter sonnets, the comfort they 
intimated is dispelled, as Spenser establishes a new tension between the 
marriage made in heaven and the present foreshadowing of the marriage on 
earth. Where Easter Sunday had prayed for what "ought," Easter Thursday's 
sonnet, Amoretti 72, shows traces of the new tension as the poet searches for 
true direction. The directions of the sonnet, from earth to heaven and then 
back to earth, correspond to those of the ascension account in Acts 1 , the 
day's second lesson at morning prayer. The poet's final claim that he is 
comforted by the presence on earth of his heaven's bliss is a unique resolu- 
tion. The lady differs generically from her Petrarchist exempla: although 
unconfined by the "burden of mortality," her presence remains firmly 
bound to earth. Thus Spenser, in resolving the tension between heaven and 
earth by incorporating heaven into earth, presents marriage as an incarna- 
tion mystically identified with the christic incarnation. 

The mutuality, however, which underlies the poet's comfort and assur- 
ance, can be endangered or destroyed by two factors: either by a self-con- 
tainedness on the part of one of the couple, or by separation and absence of 
the partners from each other. Spenser experiences and meditates upon both 
factors in Amoretti. The first is a temptation that is met and overcome in 
Amoretti 58 and 59, the sonnets which preface the mutuality and covenant 
of the Easter season. 

Assurance was an integral part of the elect's perception of being saved, 
"The highest degree of faith, is 7i^r|po(t)Opi'a," a full assurance, "^° and 
Spenser's Protestant colleagues warned continuously against the false 
assurance that the flesh might provide.^' In accusing the lady of self-assur- 
ance in Amoretti 58, Spenser is also accusing her of being false to the 
mutuality upon which their marriage covenant will be founded. Indeed, the 
opening quatrain of Amoretti 59, by paralleling "for better" and "with 
worse," contair\s a covert allusion to the marriage vows. A self-reliance on 

vs. ... / chaunge eeke our mynds and former lives amend," while Am. 87 ponders upon the 
"ioyous houres" of the betrothal. 

^ Perkins, A Golden Chaine, in Workes, 1:81, col. 2. 

*' Perkins, Gods free Grace, and Mam Free-WiSl, in Workes, 1:714, col. 2. Spenser 
reflects this standard Protestant position elsewhere in his writings, not the least in the 
stanza which introduces the House of Holinesse in FQ 1.x. 1, which links assurance, flesh 
and good will in one; see also Hume, 68. 

52 Introduction 

the part of one necessarily obscures the other's perception of election. It 
imperils not only Spenser's forthcoming marriage but also his happiness and 
comfort, and he asks plaintively in the final couplet, "Why then doe ye 
proud fayre, misdeeme so farre, / that to your selfe ye most assured arre." 
The misjudgement, which is the final temptation prior to the approaching 
liturgical celebration of the covenant's being sealed, is only to be overcome 
in the opening lines of the Maundy Thursday sonnet, in which the partners' 
mutuality is celebrated: "The doubt which ye misdeeme, fayre loue, is 
vaine." Amoretti 65's "fayre loue" has now prevailed over Amoretti 58's 
"proud fayre." 

But the factor that most imperilled the covenantal assurance of the 
betrothed was absence, which is the preoccupation of the Expectation 
sonnets. Yet even in the first of the appended amoretti, Amoretti 76 and 77, 
Spenser proposes a peculiarly Protestant way to turn absence to advantage, 
by construing it as a sign of God's grace working mundanely within himself, 
and the possibility of so accommodating absence becomes the theme of 
subsequent sonnets. The Expectation sonnets, then, look to the future and 
not to the past. Despite the separation which underpins them and the 
brooding with which they are occasionally imbued, they affect a security 
and a hope proper to the season. 

Lever has demonstrated how in Amoretti 76 Spenser has recast the spirit 
of Tasso's "Non son si belli i fiori onde natura," to obtain an unfallen 
quality, reminiscent of prelapsarian goodness, for the lady's breast is now 
"the bowre of blisse, the paradice of pleasure."^^ Yet the poet remains 
unsettled by the physical absence of his beloved, for it threatens the part- 
ners' mutuality and weakens the poet's belief in the supernatural blessedness 
of his marriage. In Amoretti 77, however, Spenser proposes a solution to the 
incompleteness that has beset him. Firstly, he gives to Tasso's mythic apples 
a prelapsarian origin, for they are "brought from paradice" and "voyd of 
sinfull vice." Secondly, by adopting the repeated image of "dreame" from 
the second lesson at morning prayer for Saturday 4 May, Matthew 2, he 
transforms the nature of the original physical separation and elevates his 
experience to a level beyond the physical. He can take comfort in the 
supernatural origin and prelapsarian nature of his love, even if absence 
threatens his equilibrium and blessedness, undermines the perception of his 
assurance, and drives him to seek internal solace. Only within himself can 
he discover the supernal nature of mutual love. There is a sense of expecta- 
tion here: the poet's continuous desire for "harbour" and "rest" looks 
forward to future solace and comfort rather than recalls past trials. 

"Lever, 110-13. 

Introduction 53 

The physical separation is made explicit in the opening line of the next 
sonnet, Amoretti 78, written for the 5th Sunday after Easter, 5 May; its first 
quatrain is openly concerned with absence, and physical searching proves 
futile, "I seek . . . / nor . . . can fynd," thus disproving the day's Gospel's 
instruction, "aske, and ye shal receiue" (John 16.24, to which the other 
gospels, Luke 11.9 and Matthew 7.7, append, "seke, and ye shal finde"). 
The poet is driven to direct his eyes inwardly; only there can his thoughts 
contemplate their "trew obiect." Despite his inward focusing and self- 
preoccupation, however, the poet remains unalarmed at the absence of his 
lady, resolving not to engage in vain or frenetic activity, but rather to rest 
quietly within the self. The absence of his betrothed may have muted 
somewhat his perception of the security found at Easter, but its existence is 
in no way threatened. Rather it has been turned to advantage, because, 
paradoxically, only through absence can the physical be transcended and 
proper assurance found. Absence directs the poet away from the physical to 
the spiritual nature of his troth, named in Amoretti 78 as his "trew obiect," 
and recast, in Amoretti 79, in a platonic vein, as "diuine and borne of 
heavenly seed." 

Absence thus assists in its own overthrow, because by heightening the 
poet's awareness of his inner state it makes him secure in his knowledge of 
the grace that his covenant bestows upon him. The operation of grace also 
confirms his election and it is to the thought of election that Spenser turns 
in Amoretti 82, which he opens, "I blesse my lot, that was so lucky placed," 
and in Amoretti 84, written for the Sunday after the Ascension, 12 May, 
which he concludes with an explicit reference to election: 

LEt not one sparke of filthy lustfull fyre 

breake out, that may her sacred peace molest: 
ne one light glance of sensuall desyre 
Attempt to work her gentle mindes vnrest. 

But pure affections bred in spotlesse brest, 

and modest thoughts breathd from wel tempted sprites, 
goe visit her in her chast bowre of rest, 
accompanyde with angelick delightes. 

There fill your selfe with those most joyous sights, 
the which my selfe could neuer yet attayne: 
but speake no word to her of these sad plights, 
which her too constant stiffenesse doth constrayn. 

Onely behold her rare perfection, 

and blesse your fortunes fayre election. 

54 Introduction 

Here absence is construed delicately to advance the sense of comfort to be 
found in election.^^ In the sonnet the poet is addressing his two selves: in 
the first instance his carnal self, which he calls upon to suppress itself, and 
secondly his other spiritual self, addressed in the vocative, "pure affections" 
and "modest thoughts," and in the imperative, "goe visit." It is the "pure" 
self, which is finally enjoined to behold the lady's "rare perfection" and to 
bless its "fayre election," because election operates only in the realm of grace. 
The sonnet thus observes the Pauline doctrine of election, expounded in 
the day's second lesson at evening prayer, Romans 11. Paul firstly claims 
that election is of the realm of grace, not the flesh, "if it be of grace, it is no 
more of workes: or els were grace no more grace" (v, 6), and further ex- 
plains that the election found in the covenant is linked with love and seen 
as a gift and calling of God: "this is my couenant to them ... as touching 
the election, they are beloued for the fathers sakes. For the giftes and calling 
of GOD are without repentance" (vv. 27-29). In Amoretti 84 Spenser 
acknowledges the inner perfection that such election confers on him and 
takes comfort from it. Yet the election, which according to Paul is "secret" 
(v. 25), remains firmly ensconced in the poet's breast, and, in Amoretti 85, 
is shown to be hidden from the the wider world: 

Deepe in the closet of my parts en tyre, 

her worth is written with a golden quill. (9-10) 

Amoretti 85 supplements the nature of the betrothed's election, whose 
existence had been affirmed in the preceding sonnet. Its distinction between 
"The world that cannot deeme of worthy things," and the poet's inner 
world, where alone truth resides, is accepted directly from the readings for 
the Monday of Expectation Week 13 May, Matthew 11 and Romans 12, 
both of which are concerned with the extent of God's revelation and its 
discernment. In Matthew, Christ praises God for the restricted nature of 
heavenly revelation, distinguishing between those to whom true judgement 

*' The sonnet sequence has finally reached a stage where it identifies marriage and 
covenant. William Perkins, for example, uses the image of marriage to define election and 
covenantal donation (A Golden Chaine, in Workes, 1:78, col. 1): 'The first degree, is an 
effectuall calling, whereby a sinner bceing seuered from the world, is entertained into Gods 

familie Of this there be two parts. The first is Election, which is a separation of a sinner 

from the cursed estate of all mankind. . . . The second, is the reciprocall donation or free 
gift of God the Father, whereby he bestoweth the sinfull man to bee saued vpon Christ, 
and Christ againe actually & most effectually vpon that sinfull man: so that he may boldly 
say this thing, namely Christ, both God and man, is mine, and I for my benefit & vse 
enjoy the same. TTie like we see in wedlock: The husband saith, this woman is my wife, 
whomc her parents hauc given vnto me, so that, shoe bceing fully mine, I may both haue 
her, and goucrnc her: Againe, the woman may say, this man is mine husband, who hath 
bestowed hinuclfc vpon mc, and doth cherish me as his wife." 

Introduction 55 

is given, and those who are worldly wise: "I giue thee thankes, 6 Father, 
Lord of heauen and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise 
and men of vnderstanding, and hast opened them vnto babes" (v. 25). The 
gospel's subsequent observation about knowing the secrets of the world, "no 
man knoweth the Sonne, but the Father: nether knoweth any man the 
Father, but the Sonne" (v. 27), is reflected in the sonnet's further defining 
those of the world, as those "that skill not," and who "know not." 

Paul, in Romans, further explains the nature of election. He calls on the 
Romans to forgo the ways of this world and revert to deeper truth: "facion 
not your selues like vnto this worlde, but be ye changed by the renuing of 
your minde" (v. 2). Spenser observes the Pauline instruction to disregard the 
world and shape his thought inwardly, while his advice to others, not to 
aspire to "deeme of her desert," corresponds to Paul's admonition to the 
elect not to allow their judgement to overreach itself: part of being elected 
to grace is "that no man presume to understand aboue that which is mete 
to vnderstand" (v. 3). 

Properly, the world's awareness of the election of Spenser and his 
betrothed in Amoretti 85 is restricted. Their covenant, furthermore, will 
prevail until the last day, because the sonnet's "her shrill trump shal 
thunder" is obliquely apocalyptic and recalls the gospel's repeated reference 
to the "day of judgement" (vv. 22 & 24; v. 25's "hast opened" is also 
apocalyptic, the koine being a7C8KdA,un/a(;). In the interim, the world may 
"chose to enuy or to wonder," because discernment of the secrets of the 
poet's love, and its expression, will remain concealed from the unelected, 
who witlessly consider the sonnets' intent merely to "flatter," and who can 
see their words as only "clatter." 

In the concluding sonnets of the sequence Spenser thereby shapes an 
artifice in which the amoretti's covert nature is aligned with the hidden, 
apocalyptic nature of scriptural truths. The secret of the amoretti, Amoretti 
6's "not" or "knot," darkness or marriage, is that to which the amoretti 
lead, and which they anticipate, although their truth is hidden from the 
"wise and men of vnderstanding," and their depths lie beyond the compre- 
hension of the elect, and ultimately in the realm of the in-fans, Matthew's 
"babes." To the world is given some syntactical discernment, but the true 
mysteries lie in the realm of preterlingual innocency. 

The amoretti are, therefore, informed by a range of paradoxical and 
perspectival possibilities to be unravelled, so that their poetic secret, which 
is replicated in the intimacy of the betrotheds' election, can be discerned. 
Only she, whose election opens the hidden of the scriptures, can be privy 
to the sonnets' hidden artifice. In this lies the paradox which comprises the 
sequence itself. To be privy to the secret is also to know the knitted "not," 
to be part of an essential negative darkness. The mystery will always be 

56 Introduction 

brought to light, but never in its entirety, and Paul, in Romans 12, counsels 
against the presumption that it might be. Scriptures and sonnets are wed- 
ded, for both embody truths for the initiate, the word to be comprehended 
only in part and only by them. But they must remain, as well, unknowing 
of the dark conceit, so that the truth, of scriptures and sonnets, can be 
further revealed. In the final analysis, Amoretti 85 's "worth" defies compre- 
hension and can only instill wonder, and it is with wonder that Spenser 
concludes the sonnet: "let the world choose to enuy or to wonder." 

As well, Amoretti 85 's "Deepe in the closet of my parts entyre" echoes 
Amoretti I's "in harts close bleeding book." The poet's first orison, that the 
lady throw light on the poems and that her "lamping eyes" and "starry 
light" open their secrets to her alone, reveals, even at the outset, Amoretti^s 
enclosed intent. Amoretti 1 becomes a post-conceit of the whole work, 
whose final result is not internal to itself, but lies outside the sequence in 
Epithalamion, which seals the christic covenant encrypted in the sequence. 
Furthermore, because of Amoretti's elective potentiality, the sequence can 
only end for the elected poet in darkness and expectation, as the betrothed 
await another light. The final sonnets of expectation and darkness are thus 
integral to the sequence, because the pentecost of both the poetic and 
liturgical secret will assuredly become for the elect the pentecost in which 
all will be sealed physically and spiritually. 

The involvement of the amoretti with the daily scripture readings thus 
operates beyond mere verbal or topical imitation and enters the realm of the 
euchological. The New Testament, because of its discontinuities, abounds 
in phrases describing astonishment, marvel, and amazement, and its wonder 
is caused partly by the writers' continual thwarting of the reader's expecta- 
tions by breaking the narrative continuum. Spenser has exploited the New 
Testament's episodic nature and its juxtaposing of the random to display in 
Amoretti the discontinuities experienced in his betrothal.^'* As well, be- 
cause the evangelical subtext ends archetypically by awaiting from outside 
the Spirit's consolation, so must the amoretti end in expectation. Amoretti is, 
therefore, unique among Renaissance artifacts, because any rhetorical 
Concordia ultimately remains foreign to it, to be sealed later from beyond its 
bounds. The sequence's fractured nature, by imitating its evangelical 

*^ Because the sequence presents a range of experiences perceived" as various and 
dissembled, any other ascribed totality or set of correspondences must break under the 
pressure of contrarieties. Here lies the major difficulty with any numerological and Neo- 
Platonic reconstructions of Amoretti. They presume either a residual harmony underlying 
the sequence, or the sequence's rounded and complete nature. But such presumptions run 
contrary to the amoretli'i liturgical and scriptural artifice, and constrain it in a formalistic 
•traitjacket that is conclusive and given to the enclosed. 

Introduction 57 

subsidium, inhibits any final settlement from within itself. The amoretti 
continue unencompassed to the end, their nature allowing no telos. 

Amoretti and Epithalamion also contravenes customary Petrarchan and 
Petrarchist resolutions to sonnet sequences.*^^ Although in the final Amor- 
etti 76-89 the lady is absent just as Laura is absent, Laura's death brings 
about her angelification — thus raising Petrarch (and his successors) from 
darkness to light and from earth to heaven. In Petrarch the opposites 
remain always at variance: only the absence of the flesh — the death of 
Laura— allows the presence of the spiritual. The circumstances surrounding 
Amoretti, however, differ from those of II Canzoniere: Spenser's beloved 
remains alive and the marriage, which will eventually dissolve the tensions 
of the amoretti, will be, first and foremost, an earthly, not a heavenly, 
marriage. Amoretti, as a piece of poetic artifice, thereby avoids the tradition- 
al Petrarchist resolution of sublimatory angelification. Because the post- 
poetic factor that closes the sequence is external to it, Amoretti does not 
arrive at an anagogical reality, but remains anchored to the darkness of the 
world, which Epithalamion will creatively make sacrosanct. 

The sequence's final sonnets also reveal that the sequence is intimately 
attached to and mimics the courtship between Spenser and Elizabeth Boyle. 
Courtships of their nature don't end (unless broken ofO, but are ended from 
outside with the celebration of marriage. Amoretti thus reveals three aspects 
of incompletion, the personal, the poetic and the liturgical, all of which are 
interwoven and all of which are resolved by the ritualistic and public forces 
that inhabit Epithalamion. They anticipate the future enactment of a physi- 
cal reality that will seal the grace and beauty of which they sing. 

The final sonnets, Amoretti 87-89, conclude the sequence on a note of 
absence and lack of comfort. Yet each of them holds out a cryptic assurance. 
Amoretti 87, which makes the expectation of the poet explicitly liturgical, 
anticipates the arrival of the Comforter at Pentecost. Spenser awaits the 
lady's coming, just as the disciples awaited the Spirit's coming, and identi- 
fies the comfort that the lady will bring with that which the Holy Spirit will 

^' Lisa M. Klein, " 'Let us love, deare love lyke as we ought': Protestant Marriage and 
the Revision of Petrarchan Loving in Spenser's Amoretti," SpS 10 (1989): 109-137 has 
recently argued that Spenser continually moves towards reshaping both Petrarchist and 
sexual poetics by repudiating the exaggerations of Petrarchism and replacing them with "a 
luetics expressive of the mutuality and concord which ought to characterize a loving 
marriage" (112). The lady of the sequence then "emerges into representation" through the 
repudiation of the proud Petrarchist mistress whose characteristics contravene the model 
of a Christian wife: "A humble companion of a wife is formed from and supplants a proud 
tyrant of a mistress, and the concord of marriage is ensured only after the possibility of 
discord is eliminated" (118). Klein concludes that "the process of fashioning identity in 
the Amoretti contradicts the recent new historicist paradigm" (129). 

58 Introduction 

bring.^^ Amoretti 88 's opening, "Since I have lackt the comfort of that 
hght," which couples it to Amoretti 87 's theme of night and day, defines the 
lady as, "th'onely image of that heavenly ray," and the "Idea playne." 
While plainly Platonic in character, the ascriptions also suggest the immi- 
nent coming of the Holy Spirit, the comforter. As the Spirit's brightness 
filled the disciples, so the poet will draw upon the brightness of the lady to 
sustain his inner self. Spenser has fused together the comfort that Pentecost 
will bring and the comfort of the second lesson at morning prayer for 
Thursday 16 May, Matthew 14, with which Amoretti 88 corresponds, "Be of 
good comfort. It is I: be not afraied" (v. 27), to underscore a personal 
reassurance, which operates despite the overt darkness of the sonnet. The 
reassurance runs counter to the sonnet's opening mood of physical separa- 
tion and reinforces the sense of light, which the poet knows will finally be 
a source of grace and consolation. 

Amoretti 89 concludes Amoretti by employing as its principal image the 
dove associated with the Holy Spirit. The poet remains smitten by the 
darkness which absence induces in him, and is preoccupied with his lack of 
comfort. Yet the sonnet also contains a coded and intimate message for the 
future, from which only the elect could take comfort: 

So I alone now left disconsolate, 

mourne to my selfe the absence of my loue: 

and wandring here and there all desolate, 

seek with my playnts to match that mournful doue. (5-8) 

The thought is a proper liturgical one for the season. But Spenser would 
have taken heart from the biblical associations of "disconsolate" with the 
name, Barnabas, which is explicated in Acts 4.36, "Barnabas (that is by 
interpretation the sonne of consolation)."*^^ The word thus carries with it 
a cryptic reference to his forthcoming marriage on the feast of St. Barnabas, 
1 1 June, when such consolation will occur and he will be united with his 
betrothed. His "disconsolate" mood will be overcome on the very day when 

^ Spenser thus reflects a common identification in Protestant treatises on marriage. 
Cleaver (A Godlie Forme ofHouseholde Gouemment, 158-59), for example, deals extensively 
with the duties of the wife as a "comforter," for which role he claims the authority of the 
"holy Ghost, who saith, that she was ordeined as a Helper." 

*^ Henry Smith ("The Ladder of Peace" in The Sermons of Maister Henrie Smith 
[London, 1593], 854): "It is not vaine that the holy Ghost when he named Barnabas, 
interpreted his name too, because it signifieth the sorxne of consolatiorx: as though he 
delighted in such men as were the sonr^s of consolatbrx. Comfort one arxother saith Paule: 
How shal we comfort one another without comfort? Therefore Paule saith, GOD comforteth 
v$, that u/e may he able to comfort other by the comfort whereby we ourselues are comforted of 
God: shewing, that wee cannot comfort other, unlessc wee be comfortable our selucs: and 
therefore that we may performc this dutic, we arc bound to nourish comfort in our selucs." 

Introduction 59 

the feast of "the sonne of consolation" is celebrated. Then, each of the 
betrothed will be able to comfort the other, because each will find in their 
covenant with each other assurance of their covenant with God and of their 
election and grace. 

The appended sonnets of Expectation are, then, an integral part of the 
sequence's ultimate design and provide Amoretti with a final euchological 
direction. Spenser has been moved to conclude the work with expectation 
because it is of the nature of covenantal election that the betrothed await 
its conferment patiently. As well, the feasts of Pentecost and St. Barnabas 
are conjoined through their common function in sealing covenantal comfort 
and consolation, and the interval between them surmounted. 

D. Epithalamion 

Spenser's Epithalamion celebrates, with ritualistic and public force, that 
which was privately avowed in Amoretti. The two works are linked themati- 
cally. Amoretti 89 concludes on a note of solitariness and lack of comfort, as 
it sends forth an unrequited song: 

LYke as the Culuer on the bared bough. 

Sits mourning for the absence of her mate: 
and in her songs sends many a wishfull vow, 
for his returne that seemes to linger late. 

So I alone now left disconsolate, 

mourne to my selfe the absence of my loue. (1-6) 

Epithalamion' s opening stanza insists on the same realities, as the poet 
resolves to sing to himself, "So Orpheus did for his owne bride, / So I vnto 
my selfe alone will sing," and the lack of reply to his song is reflected in the 
singular personal pronoun of the opening stanza's refrain, "The woods shall 
to me answer and my Eccho ring." 

Where the amoretti were directed to the beloved, Epithalamion s audience 
is a wider one. It brings into the open that which in Amoretti was not 
societal or given to the world, by affording public voice and mythic propor- 
tions to, first, a public and, later, a private enactment. Epithalamion presents 
the public reconciliation of AmorettCs personal tensions and the public 
consummation of its private separateness, because in it, physically and 
spiritually, the covenant is sealed. 

Epithalamion s most apparent structure is of twenty-three stanzas and a 
short envoy. Each stanza is comprised of a series of long and short lines; the 
short lines, which occur without strict pattern, generally divide the stanza 
into quarters. Each stanza, in turn, narrates a segment of the wedding day, 
and each is concluded with an individualized variant of the refrain which 
concludes Stanza 1. 

60 Introduction 

The wedding day is identified as 11 June, the feast of St. Barnabas, 
"This day the sunne is in his cheifest hight, / With Barnaby the bright" 
(265-66), and A. Kent Hieatt has demonstrated the 'polyoramic' structure 
embodied in the poem.^® Temporal and calendrical structures are discern- 
ible, not only in the number of stanzas, twenty four, representing both the 
number of hours in the day and, through its short lines, the quarter-hours, 
but also in the number of long lines, three hundred and sixty five, repre- 
senting the number of days in the year, and even in the number of short 
lines, sixty eight, representing, Hieatt suggests, fifty-two weeks + four 
seasons + twelve months. If the six long lines of the envoy are excluded, 
the number of resulting long lines is 359, the number of degrees through 
which the sun travels, while the celestial sphere is completing its full 
revolution of 360° around the earth. On 1 1 June, furthermore, the period 
of time between the sun's rising and falling corresponds to the hours of day- 
light in the poem, and the arrival of night in the seventeenth stanza accords 
with the moment when the sun set in southern Ireland on 11 June 1594. In 
its simplest form Hieatt's thesis convincingly demonstrates the manner in 
which Spenser has both located his epithalamium in southern Ireland and 
yet, by advancing and absorbing the local into the cosmographical, has 
extended the poem's temporal bounds beyond the span of a single day to 
that of a whole year. 

^ A. Kent Hieatt, Short Time's Endless Monument. The symbolism of the numbers in 
Edmund Spenser's Epithalamion (New York, 1960), passim. Carol Kaske, "Spenser's Amoretti 
and Epithalamion of 1595: Structure, Genre, Numerology," ELR 8 (1978): 271-95, J. C. 
Eade, "The Pattern in the Astronomy of Spenser's Epithalamion," Review of English Studies, 
n.s. 23 (1972): 173-78 and Shohachi Fukuda, "The Numerological Patterning of Amoretti 
and Epithalamion," SpS 8 (1988): 33-48, argue for further astronomical complexities in the 
poem. Max A. Wickert in "Structure and Ceremony in Spenser's Epithalamion," ELH 35 
(1968): 137 has argued that Hieatt's attempts to interpret his mathematical discoveries by 
pairing Stanzas 1 and 13, Stanzas 2 and 14 and so forth places considerable strain on 
reading the poem integrally. He proposed that "the imaginative order of the poem's second 
half is not a da capo repetition but a mirror-inversion of the imaginative order of the first 
half" and that Stanza 1 matches Stanza 24, Stanza 2 matches Stanza 23 and so on. If such 
correspondences are accepted, Wickert argued, the eternizing function of Epithalamiim is 
not subordinate to the poem's formal design and its "literal" meaning — its movement 
through the marriage rite. He finally claimed that Epithalamion s action peaks "at the 
mathematically exact center of the poem" at lines 216-17, "The sacred ceremonies there 
partake, /The which do cndlesse matrimony make." Recently David Chinitz {"Epithalamion 
and the Golden Section," JMRS 21 [19911: 251-68) elaborated upxan Wickert's claims by 
pointing out that lines 263-64 constitute the mathematical (and architectural) golden sec- 
tion or mean of the poem: "The golden section divides the 359 long lines preceding the 
envoy at 221.87, and long lines 221-22 turn out to be precisely those same claimactic 
lines, II. 263-64 of the poem as a whole." Chinitz argued that such a golden mean com- 
prises a Vergilian shaping of Epithalamion. 

Introduction 6J^ 

Spenser, however, departs from received epithalamial standards. In the 
first place he is forced by circumstances to annul the customary epithalamial 
distinction between the epithalamium's poet/presenter and its bridegroom. 
The customary epithalamial presenter arranges events only to the threshold 
of the bridal chamber, and remains outside the innermost chamber, orches- 
trating further festivities after the couple's entry. The voice of Spenser's 
epithalamium, however, because it is the bridegroom's, introduces the 
audience to the intimacy of the bridal chamber itself. A private act is thus 
publicly celebrated, and gathers to itself a social cast both within and 
without the poem. In Epithalamion the masque's presenter and principal 
consciousness is at the one time public voice and private player, simulta- 
neously an invoker of the cosmographical harmonies and forces, yet subject 
to them; a suppliant before the poem's priest, yet directing him also; a 
controller of time, yet subordinate to it; conceded the one day sought, yet 
encompassed by the year. 

Doe not thy seruants simple boone refuse, 
But let this day let this one day be myne, 
Let all the rest be thine. (124-26) 

Epithalamion' s presenter also departs from the manner in which con- 
ventional presenters customarily advanced an epithalamium's ceremonial 
quality by distancing its events from the audience. The conventional 
presenter was prominent to the degree to which his voice gained authority 
through a variety of tones, through his frequent imperatives and commands, 
and through his arranging and directing the players, both subordinate and 
principal. His fescennine and bawdy asides also added character to his voice 
and asserted his mediating presence within the masque. Much of this is not 
allowed Spenser. His syncretic genius always enables him to capture mo- 
ments of genial fun, and by directing the action and adjusting its pace 
manipulate responses to effect a quick-moving tableau. But because the 
public voice must enter a private place, a fine balance must be struck 
between public and private, which the indecorous or improper would 
jeopardize.^^ In Spenser's epithalamium the voice always remains a caring 
and reserved one, attributes of the bridegroom rather than the customary 
Catullan presenter, and Spenser has chosen to remove from his epithalami- 
um the customary carmina fescennina of ribaldry and bawdiness, and to erect 

*' To maintain decorum Spenser is prepared to discard customary epithalamial 
practices. Puttenham, The Arte of Er^ish Poesie (London, 1589), 41, advises that noise and 
merriment are necessary after the couple's entry into the bridal chamber to disguise any 
ensuing noise: "the tunes of the songs were very loude and shrill, to the intent there might 
no noise be hard out of the bed chamber by the skreeking & outcry of the young damosell 
feeling the first forces of her stiffe & rigorous young man." 

62 Introduction 

them as a series of irreverent anacreontic verses, separate from Epithalamion 
and dividing it from Amoretti. 

Like the amoretti, the anacreontic verses, being less a recapitulation of 
past endeavors than an anticipatory extraction of the carmina fescennina, 
also look forward to the epithalamium.^° The manner in which they play 
with the physical, although tactful, is opposed to the skillful parodies or the 
well-intentioned aspirations of the preceding amoretti. Their mythical 
surrounds,^' which themselves are part of a tradition and make more 
acceptable that which they celebrate, also anticipate the epithalamium, 
while the allusive nature of the verses insinuates a sense of physical thresh- 
old, similar to the limen, celebrated in epithalamia. The lines 

And then she bath'd him in a dainty well 

the well of deare delight. 
Who would not oft be stung as this, 

to be so bath'd in Venus blis? (69-72) 

anticipate a sexual consummation rather than recall something past. 

Epithalamion, in contrast, is marked by great propriety and reserve. It is 
not initially concerned with the physical, and only introduces it slowly and 
by degrees. The bride does not appear until Stanza 9, where her features are 
described emblematically and her bearing as one of chaste modesty. Only in 
Stanza 13, in the wedding ceremony, is the actual physical first acknowl- 
edged: the physical closeness of the priest's benedictory imposition of hands, 
a form of blessing also common to the coronation and to all ordination 
rites, causes the bride to blush, "And blesseth her with his two happy 
hands, / How the red roses flush vp in her cheekes" (225-26). Likewise the 
joining of hands later in the Stanza 13, in accordance with the Marriage 
Service's instruction, "And the Minister . . . shall cause the man to take the 
woman by the right hande,"^' reveals the bride to be particularly sensitive 
to the touch: "Why blush ye loue to giue to me your hand, / The pledge of 
all our band?" (238-39). Although the physical is now sanctioned, ceremo- 

^° Robert S. Miola, "Spenser's Anacreontics: A Mythological Metaphor," SPh 77 
(1980): 50-66, argues that the anacreontic verses "recapitulate the Amoretti's spiritual 
conflict and anticipate its epithalamial resolution," although the greater part of his 
argument enquires into their recapitulatory nature. G. K. Hunter, 124 sees them as an 
interpolation which should be ignored, while J. C. Nohrnbcrg, The Amlogy of The Faerie 
Queene (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1976), views them as a short interlude. See J. 
L. Smarr, "Anacreontics," in The Spenser Encyclopedia, 39. 

^' For further mythical and continental antecedents of the "Anacreontics," see 
Hutton, 119-123. 

^^ StatiuR, Epith. in Stellam, 34-35 in J. H. Mozley, trans.. Works (London: William 
Hcinemann, 1928), "licet cxpositum per limen aperto / Ire redire gradu." 

" The boohe of Common prayer (1578), sig. dvi*. 

Introduction 63 

nial decorum prevails for another six stanzas, until Stanza 13's delicate 
intimations are silently consummated in Stanza 20. 

Although Spenser has deliberately imbued his poem with a bourgeois 
and mercantile cast,'''* and localized it in rural Ireland (Stanza 4's locale is 
particularly Irish and folklorist, while the rural nature of Stanza 19's lengthy 
exorcism extends even to the croaking of the frogs in the Irish bog), it is the 
cosmographical which gives the piece coherent forward movement. The 
poem's occasional style and variable lines allow of little narrative continuity 
and project a series of individual tableaux. It is the architectonic progression 
of the hours which provides the poem with cohesion and structure.^^ The 
dominance of the cosmographical also obscures any liturgical or biblical 
subsidium,^^ although Spenser's ability to transform material drawn from 
classical and continental antecedents, so that no single source is apparent, 
is equally true of his scriptural sources. Biblical allusions are limited: the 
Song of Solomon is evoked in Stanza 2, while the opening to Stanza 9, 

^* In singing his own epithalamion Spenser need not direct it to higher patrons, the 
nobility to whom epithalamies had customarily been directed. (Thomas M. Greene, 
"Spenser and the Epithalamic Convention," Comparative Literature 9 [1957]: 218.) He 
obviously felt a bourgeois and mercantile cast befitted his position more closely. The 
images of small business abound, from the orison, "That shall for al the paynes and 
sorrowes past, / Pay to her vsury of long delight" (32-33), to the opening of Stanza 10, 
"Tell me ye merchants daughters did ye see / So fayre a creature in your towne before," 
which explicitly echoes the opening to Am. 15, "Ye tradeful Merchants," and repeats its 
comparisons of eyes as "Saphyres," and "forhead" as "yuory." Stanza 14 acclaims "the 
glory of her gaine" (244), and in Stanza 15 the young men are called vpon to "leaue your 
wonted labors for this day" (262). Stanza 18 takes up the earlier reference to "vsury" and 
speaks of repayment and recompense for past costs in its welcome to night, "That long 
dales labour doest at last defray, / And all my cares, which cruell loue collected, / Hast 
sumd in one, and cancelled for aye" (316-18). Stanza 23's "posterity," "possesse," and 
"inherit," and finally Starua 24's "recompens," are all in keeping with the mercantile 
surrounds of the poem. Loewenstein, 289 reads the economic image not only as the long 
debt of courtship paid off in a single night, but as applying to Epithalamiorx itself, which 
both substitutes for material gifts and is in lieu of many other (poetic) ornaments. 

^* Spenser has also been prepared to disregard, for the sake of the wider cosmographical 
proportions, the customary divisions of an epithalamion. For example, George Puttenham, 
The Arte of English Poesie (London 1589; facsimile, Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum 
Ltd., 1971), 41-42, advises a threefold division, 1. "the first parte of the night when the 
spxjuse and her husband were brought to their bed." 2. "About midnight or one of the 
clocke." 3. "In the morning when it was faire broad day." 

^* John N. Wall, Transformations of the Word: Spenser, Herbert, Vaughan (Athens: Univ. 
of Georgia Press, 1988), 127-65, on the other hand, has argued for further scriptural and 
liturgical echoes in Epithalamion, which he considers are employed to "overgo" the 
classical conventions that Spenser observed. William C. Johnson, " 'Sacred Rites' and 
Prayer Book Echoes in Spenser's 'Epithalamion,' " Ren. & Ref. 12 (1976): 53 also sees a 
parallel structure between the Book of Common Prayer's marriage service and E/jit/w/amion, 
although the verbal correspondences he cites between the two are less strong. Epithala' 
mion's "Poure out your blessing on us plentiously," for example, need not be particularly 
tied to the service's "pxswre vpon you the riches." 

64 Introduction 

"Loe where she comes along with portly pace / Lyke Phoebe from her 
chamber of the East, / Arysing forth to run her mighty race," recalls the 
Geneva version's Psalm 19.4-5, "the sunne. Which commeth forthe as a 
bridegrome out of his chambre, and rejoyceth like a mightie man to runne 
his race." The allusions in Stanza 12, "Open the temple gates," "with 
girlands trim," "ye virgins," and "with honour dew," which conjure up 
possible precedents in both Catullus and de Buttet, also suggest the apoca- 
lyptic parable of the virgins awaiting the bridegroom with its verbal echoes 
of "bridegrome," "virgins . . . trimmed their lampes," and "Lord, open Ithe 
gate] to us." The opening to Stanza 14, "Now al is done," recalls the 
marriage of the Lamb in John's triumphant apocalyptic vision. John sees the 
"holie citie," which the Geneva Bible glosses as, "The holie companie of 
the elect," descending, "Prepared as a bride trimmed for her housband," 
and hears the great voice exclaim: "It is done. I am a and CO, the beginning 
and the end" (Revelations 21.2 & 6).^^ The scriptural echoes attach an 
apocalyptic surround to the marriage service and reinforce its ultramundane 
dimensions, but since classical epithalamia lacked a corresponding service, 
Spenser's reverting to the scriptures for this section of his epithalamium 
would not be unusual.^® Spenser has, however, generally avoided any 
unifying scriptural imagery in favor of the cosmographical and mythopoeic. 
The most pertinent feature oi Epithalamion, however, is its recapitulating, 
in mythic and cosmogonic terms, that which had been liturgically anticipat- 
ed in Maundy Thursday's Amoretti 65 and in the surrounding Easter sonnets 
and is now to be ratified on the feast of St. Barnabas. It gives public recog- 
nition to the liturgical realities of both days, each of which discretely 
underscore and empower the sealing of the spouses' own covenant of grace 
in wedlock. The feast of St. Barnabas, then, stabilizes the vagaries and 
contrarieties of courtship and passion, and sees eros and the realm of nature 
as fundamental to the realm of grace. The physical, having been sanctified 
by faith, consummates the covenant of marriage with fecund intent, and 
thereby attests to the spouses' covenant of grace. Epithalamion's structure, 
then, asserts not merely that the physical is now sanctioned, but that it 
seals the spiritual. The gulf between the beloved, so variously experienced 
and so unsuccessfully bridged in the amoretti, is late in Epithalamion sealed 
by the physical, whose culminating touch is shrouded in silence. 

'' Douglas Anderson argues cogently and at length for the apocalyptic overtones in 
EpithaUtmUm in " 'Vnto My Sclfe Alone': Spenser's Plenary Epithalamion," SpS 5 (1985): 

^' The Book of Common Prayer's marriage service also laid down the apocalyptic 
injunction, "I Require and charge you (as you will answere at the dreadful day of judge* 
mcnt, when the secretes of all hearts shalhc disclosed)," when inquirying about impedi- 
ments; see The boohe of Common prayer (1578), sig. dvi*. 

Introduction 65 

Epithcdamion's celebration of flesh-made-one is thus a public sign of an 
existent covenant, sealed mutually between the spouses, and by both 
spouses with God. Where in Amoretti Spenser came finally to lay great stress 
on the covenant of grace, because in it could be solved the tensions be- 
tween fallen flesh and grace, in the volume's concluding poem flesh and 
spirit are reconciled through the flesh's becoming a comfortable sign of 
election to the covenant of grace. The need to transcend the flesh is 
avoided by accepting the necessity of fleshly reality to witness to the 
covenant of grace. In Epithcdamion is publicly sealed, with propriety and 
without the fescennine, the covenant whose conferment was formerly 
acknowledged liturgically and whose pentecost was awaited in the final 
sonnets. Pentecost is the primary liturgical force, in which triumph over 
absence is celebrated and comfort afforded, and pentecostal light occurs, 
appropriately, on the longest day of the year. 

Epithalamion's envoy asserts forcefully, that the principal characters of 
Epithalamion, although surrounded by literary typoi and mythographic figures, 
are not fictional figures. By intimating that the epithalamium was written to 
recompense the lack of "many ornaments," which should have decked his 
love, but which, if Spenser here intended poems,^^ were not written be- 
cause of "hasty accidents," the envoy intrudes an apologetic note. It also 
argues for a connection between the earlier sonnets and Epithalamion. Its 
syntactically-contorted line, "Ye would not stay your dew time to expect," 
affirms the hope of physical fecundity, because Spenser only uses "due 
time" in connection with childbirth.®^ It also recalls the Expectation 
sonnets, for they conclude with the poet in solitariness and darkness which, 
while his beloved remains absent, lack the necessary mutuality to be cre- 
ative. Epithalamion begins in solitude and darkness, but more and more 
figures are called forth, as it becomes progressively populated and moves 
firom initial darkness to the daylight hours, in which the public revelries are 
celebrated. Only once the social cast is assembled and the mythopoeic 
cosmography established, can the covenant be sealed. Then from "the 
secret darke" ensues creativity.®' Because creation is summoned only out 
of darkness, Spenser prefaces the introduction of night with primeval 

'^ Most commentators favor the view that Spenser here intended poems: see Cortlandt 
Van Winkle, Epithalamion (New York, 1926), 34; Enid Welsford, Spenser: Fowre Hymnes 
Epithalamion: A Study of Edmund Spenser's Doctrine of Love (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1967), 
81-83; Richard Neuse, "The Triumph Over Hasty Accidents," MLR 61 (1966): 163-64. 

^ FQ I.vii.9.6 & VI.xii.6.5. 

^' Neuse (1966), passim, argues at length for the creative function of darkness in the 

66 Introduction 

Lyke as when Joue with fayre Alcmena lay, 
When he begot the great Tirynthian groome: 
Or lyke as when he with thy selfe did lie, 
And begot Majesty. (328-31) 

Epithalamion thus affirms that covenantal love requires the realm of nature 
as essential to its endless transforming power. Furthermore, by associating 
the apocalyptic suggestions, whose covert presence in the final amoretti was 
shown to be pertinent to the nature of election, with the apocalyptic 
overtones of the epithalamium, Spenser cryptically avers an "endlesse" and 
ultramundane dimension to both his marriage and his poetry. And, by 
identifying the primordial element of Revelation's "The beginning and the 
end" with the mythogonic, he also subtly reinforces the cosmographical 
dimensions of the poem, and makes all three structures coexistent. 

In the final amoretti the poet's silence was sterile, as he lamented his 
mate's lack of reply. He begins Epithalamion on the same singular note. Only 
from mutuality and presence can the Word or words come forth. The 
"Idaea playne" of Amoretti 88 may provide him with some solace, but it is 
insufficient to console the whole person, and in the sonnet's final couplet 
the poet, curtly and rather sharply, dismisses its ability to comfort: 

But with such brightnesse whylest I fill my mind, 

I starue my body and mine eyes doe blynd. (13-14) 

For the moment, the "Idaea" is not that in whose image something may be 
valorized, because, as yet, there is no accommodation of the physical 
through whose mutuality the truth of the poet's words will be sealed. In 
Epithalamion words gradually flow forth and the stanzaic refrain reverberates 
with sound. At the moment when the spouse is introduced to bed, however, 
the damsels are called to "leave my loue alone, / And leaue likewise your 
former lay to sing" (312-13). The refrain changes into the negative and 
silence is invoked, "The woods no more shall answere, nor your echo ring" 
(314); "stil Silence" and "trew night watches" are identified (353). In the 
moments of mutual silence, after the sounds of the night have been exor- 
cised in Stanza 19, Spenser's song is sealed. Thus in the covenant are 
identified physical, religious, and poetic fecundity.®^ Poetic valorizing is 
underwritten by physical fecundity conceived in silence; out of the silent 
darkness of physical mutuality the poetic comes forth, and a "Song made in 
lieu of many ornaments" is sung. 

•^ Eileen Jorge Allman, "Epithalamion's Bridegroom: Orphcus-Adam-Christ," Rena- 
scence 32 (1979-80): 240-47, similarly finds a threefold dimension to the poem, although 
she arrives at it by a different route. 


To the right worshipfull 
Sir Robart Needham Knight. 

Sir, to gratulate your safe return from Ireland, I had nothing so readie, nor 
thought any thing so meete, as these sweete conceited Sonets, the deede of 
that weldeseruing gentleman, maister Edmond Spenser: whose name suffi- 
ciently warranting the worthinesse of the work: I do more confidently 
presume to publish it in his absence, vnder your name to whom (in my 
poore opinion) the patronage therof, doth in some respectes properly 
appertaine. For, besides your iudgement and delighte in learned poesie: This 
gentle Muse for her former perfection long wished for in Englande, nowe at 
the length crossing the Seas in your happy companye, (though to your selfe 
vnknowne) seemeth to make choyse of you, as meetest to giue her deserued 
countenaunce, after her retourne: entertaine her, then, (Right worshipfull) 
in sorte best beseeming your gentle minde, and her merite, and take in 
worth my good will herein, who seeke no more, but to shew my selfe yours 
in all dutifull affection. 

W. P. 

68 Amoretti 

G: W. senior to the Author 

DArke is the day, when Phoehus face is shrowded, 
and weaker sights may wander soone astray: 
but when they see his glorious raies vnclowded, 
with steddy steps they keepe the perfect way, 

So while this Muse in forraine landes doth stay, 
inuention weepes, and pens are cast aside, 
the time like night, depriud of chearefuU day, 
and few do write, but (ah) too soone may slide. 

Then, hie thee home, that art our perfect guide, 
and with thy wit illustrate Englands fame, 
dawnting thereby our neighboures auncient pride, 
that do for poesie, challendge cheefest name. 

So we that liue and ages that succeede. 

With great applause thy learned works shall reede. 

Ah Colin, whether on the lowly plaine, 

pyping to shepherds thy sweet roundelaies: 
or whether singing in some lofty vaine 
heroick deedes, of past, or present daies: 

Or whether in thy louely mistris praise, 

thou list to exercise thy learned quill, 

thy muse hath got such grace, and power to please, 

with rare inuention bewtified by skill, 

As who therein can euer ioy their fill. 

O therefore let that happy muse proceeds, 
to clime the height of vertues sacred hill, 
where endles honor shall he made thy meede. 

Because no malice of succeeding daies, 

can rase those records of thy lasting praise. 

G. W. I. 

Amoretti 69 


HAppy ye leaues when as those lilly hands, 

which hold my life in their dead doing might 
shall handle you and hold in loues soft bands, 
lyke captiues trembling at the victors sight. 

And happy lines, on which with starry light, 

those lamping eyes will deigne sometimes to look 
and reade the sorrowes of my dying spright, 
written with teares in harts close bleeding book. 

And happy rymes bath'd in the sacred brooke 
of Helicon whence she deriued is, 
when ye behold that Angels blessed looke, 
my soules long lacked foode, my heauens blis. 

Leaues, lines, and rymes, seeke her to please alone, 
whom if ye please, I care for other none. 


VNquiet thought, whom at the first I bred, 
Of th'inward bale of my loue pined hart: 
and sithens haue with sighes and sorrowes fed, 
till greater then my wombe thou woxen art. 

Breake forth at length out of the inner part, 

in which thou lurkest lyke to vipers brood: 
and seeke some succour both to ease my smart 
and also to sustayne thy selfe with food. 

But if in presence of that fayrest proud 

thou chance to come, fall lowly at her feet: 
and with meeke humblesse and afflicted mood, 
pardon for thee, and grace for me intreat. 

Which if she graunt, then Hue and my loue cherish, 
if not, die soone, and I with thee will perish. 


THe souerayne beauty which I doo admyre, 

witnesse the world how worthy to be prayzed: 
the light wherof hath kindled heauenly fyre, 
in my fraile spirit by her from basenesse raysed. 

That being now with her huge brightnesse dazed, 
base thing I can no more endure to view: 

70 Amoretti 

but looking still on her I stand amazed, 
at wondrous sight of so celestiall hew. 

So when my toung would speak her praises dew, 
it stopped is with thoughts astonishment: 
and when niy pen would write her titles true, 
it rauisht is with fancies wonderment: 

Yet in my hart I then both speake and write 
the wonder that my wit cannot endite. 

SONNET. Illl. 

NEw yeare forth looking out of lanus gate, ; 

Doth seeme to promise hope of new delight: 
and bidding th'old Adieu, his passed date 
bids all old thoughts to die in dumpish spright. 

And calling forth out of sad Winters night, 

fresh loue, that long hath slept in cheerlesse bower: 
wils him awake, and soone about him dight 
his wanton wings and darts of deadly power. 

For lusty spring now in his timely howre, 
is ready to come forth him to receiue: 
and warnes the Earth with diuers colord flowre, 
to decke hir selfe, and her faire mantle weaue. 

Then you faire flowre, in whom fresh youth doth raine, 
prepare your selfe new loue to entertaine. 


RVdely thou wrongest my deare harts desire, 
In finding fault with her too portly pride: 
the thing which I doo most in her admire, 
is of the world vnworthy most enuide. 

For in those lofty lookes is close implide, 

scorn of base things, and sdeigne of foule dishonor: 
thretning rash eies which gaze on her so wide, 
that loosely they ne dare to looke vpon her. 

Such pride is praise, such portlinesse is honor, 
that boldned innocence beares in hir eies: 
and her faire countenance like a goodly banner, 
spreds in defiaunce of all enemies. 

Was neuer in this world ought worthy tride, 

without some spark of such self-pleasing pride? 

Amoretti 71 


BE nought dismayd that her vnmoued mind 
doth still persist in her rebellious pride: 
such loue not lyke to lusts of baser kynd, 
the harder wonne, the firmer will abide. 

The durefull Oake, whose sap is not yet dride, 
is long ere it conceiue the kindling fyre: 
but when it once doth burne, it doth diuide 
great heat, and makes his flames to heauen aspire. 

So hard it is to kindle new desire 

in gentle brest that shall endure for euer: 
deepe is the wound, that dints the parts entire 
with chast affects, that naught but death can seuer. 

TTien thinke not long in taking litle paine, 

to knit the knot, that euer shall remaine. 


FAyre eyes, the myrrour of my mazed hart, 

what wondrous vertue is contaynd in you 

the which both lyfe and death forth from you dart 

into the obiect of your mighty view? 

For when ye mildly looke with louely hew, 

then is my soule with life and loue inspired: 
but when ye lowre, or looke on me askew, 
then doe I die, as one with lightning fyred. 

But since that lyfe is more then death desyred, 
looke euer louely, as becomes you best, 
that your bright beams of my weak eies admyred, 
may kindle liuing fire within my brest. 

Such life should be the honor of your light, 

such death the sad ensample of your might. 


MOre then most faire, full of the liuing fire, 
Kindled aboue vnto the maker neere: 
no eies but ioyes, in which al powers conspire, 
that to the world naught else be counted deare. 

Thrugh your bright beams doth not the blinded guest 
shoot out his darts to base affections wound? 
but Angels come to lead fraile mindes to rest 

72 Amoretti 

in chast desires on heauenly beauty bound. 

You frame my thoughts and fashion me within, 

you stop my toung, and teach my hart to speake, 
you calme the storme that passion did begin, 
strong thrugh your cause, but by your vertue weak. 

Dark is the world, where your light shined neuer; 
well is he borne, that may behold you euer. 


LOng-while I sought to what I might compare 

those powrefull eies, which lighten my dark spright, 

yet find I nought on earth to which I dare 

resemble th' ymage of their goodly light. 
Not to the Sun: for they doo shine by night; 

nor to the Moone: for they are changed neuer; 

nor to the Starres: for they haue purer sight; 

nor to the fire: for they consume not euer; 
Nor to the lightning: for they still perseuer; 

nor to the Diamond: for they are more tender; 

nor vnto Christall: for nought may them seuer; 

nor vnto glasse: such basenesse mought offend her; 
Then to the Maker selfe they likest be, 

whose light doth lighten all that here we see. 


VN righteous Lord of loue what law is this. 

That me thou makest thus tormented be? 
the whiles she lordeth in licentious blisse 
of her freewill, scorning both thee and me. 

See how the Tyrannesse doth ioy to see 

the huge massacres which her eyes do make: 
and humbled harts brings captiues vnto thee, 
that thou of them mayst mightie vengeance take. 

But her proud hart doe thou a little shake 

and that high look, with which she doth comptroll 
all this worlds pride bow to a baser make, 
and al her faults in thy black booke enroll. 

That I may laugh at her in equall sort, 

as she doth laugh at me and makes my pain her sport. 

Amoretti 73^ 


DAyly when I do seeke and sew for peace, 

And hostages doe offer for my truth: 

she cruell warriour doth her selfe addresse 

to battell, and the weary war renew'th. 
Ne wilbe moou'd with reason or with rewth, 

to graunt small respit to my restlesse toiler 

but greedily her fell intent poursewth, 

Of my poore life to make vnpittied spoile. 
Yet my poore life, all sorrowes to assoyle, 

I would her yield, her wrath to pacify: 

but then she seekes with torment and turmoyle, 

to force me Hue and will not let me dy. 
All paine hath end and euery war hath peace, 

but mine no price nor prayer may surcease. 


ONe day I sought with her hart-thrilling eies, 

to make a truce and termes to entertainer 

all fearelesse then of so false enimies, 

which sought me to entrap in treasons traine. 
So as I then disarmed did remaine, 

a wicked ambush which lay hidden long 

in the close couert of her guilefuU eyen, 

thence breaking forth did thick about me throng. 
Too feeble I t' abide the brunt so strong, 

was forst to yeeld my selfe into their hands: 

who me captiuing streight with rigorous wrong, 

haue euer since me kept in cruell bands. 
So Ladie now to you I doo complaine, 

against your eies that iustice I may gaine. 


IN that proud port, which her so goodly graceth, 
whiles her faire face she reares vp to the skie: 
and to the ground her eie lids low embaseth, 
most goodly temperature ye may descry, 

Myld humblesse mixt with awfuU maiesty. 

for looking on the earth whence she was borne, 

74 Amoretti 

her minde remembreth her mortalitie, 
what so is fayrest shall to earth returne. 

But that same lofty countenance seemes to scorne 

base thing, and thinke how she to heauen my clime: 
treading downe earth as lothsome and forlorne, 
that hinders heauenly thoughts with drossy slime. 

Yet lowly still vouchsafe to looke on me, 

such lowlinesse shall make you lofty be. 


REtourne agayne my forces late dismayd, 

Vnto the siege by you abandon'd quite, 
great shame it is to leaue like one afrayd, 
so fayre a peece for one repulse so light. 

Gaynst such strong castles needeth greater might, 

then those small forts which ye were wont belay, 
such haughty mynds enur'd to hardy fight, 
disdayne to yeild vnto the first assay. 

Bring therefore all the forces that ye may, 
and lay incessant battery to her heart, 
playnts, prayers, vowes, ruth, sorrow, and dismay, 
those engins can the proudest loue conuert. 

And if those fayle fall downe and dy before her, 
so dying liue, and liuing do adore her. 


YE tradefull Merchants that with weary toyle 

do seeke most pretious things to make your gain: 
and both the Indias of their treasures spoile, 
what needeth you to seeke so farre in vaine? 

For loe my loue doth in her selfe containe 

all this worlds riches that may farre be found, 
if Saphyres, loe her eies be Saphyres plaine, 
if Rubies, loe hir lips be Rubies sound: 

If Pearles, hir teeth be pearles both pure and round; 
if Yuorie, her forhead yuory weene; 
if Gold, her locks are finest gold on ground; 
if siluer, her faire hands are siluer sheene: 

But that which fairest is, but few behold, 

her mind adornd with vertues manifold. 

Amoretti 75 


ONe day as I vnwarily did gaze 

on those fayre eyes my loues immortall light: 

the whiles my stonisht hart stood in amaze, 

through sweet illusion of her lookes delight, 
I mote perceiue how in her glauncing sight, 

legions of loues with little wings did fly: 

darting their deadly arrowes fyry bright, 

at euery rash beholder passing by. 
One of those archers closely I did spy, 

ayming his arrow at my very hart: 

when suddenly with twincle of her eye, 

the Damzell broke his misintended dart. 
Had she not so doon, sure I had bene slayne, 

yet as it was, I hardly scap't with paine. 


THe glorious pourtraict of that Angels face. 

Made to amaze weake mens confused skil: 
and this worlds worthlesse glory to embase, 
what pen, what pencill can expresse her fill? 

For though he colours could deuize at will, 

and eke his learned hand at pleasure guide, 
least trembling it his workmanship should spill, 
yet many wondrous things there are beside. 

The sweet eye-glaunces, that like arrowes glide, 

the charming smiles, that rob sence from the hart: 
the louely pleasance and the lofty pride, 
cannot expressed be by any art. 

A greater craftesmans hand thereto doth neede, 
that can expresse the life of things indeed. 


THe rolling wheele that runneth often round. 

The hardest Steele in tract of time doth teare: 
and drizling drops that often doe redound, 
the firmest flint doth in continuance weare. 

Yet cannot I with many a dropping teare, 
and long intreaty soften her hard hart: 

76 Amoretti 

that she will once vouchsafe my plaint to heare, 
or looke with pitty on my payneful smart. 

But when 1 pleade, she bids me play my part, 

and when 1 weep, she sayes teares are but water: 

and when I sigh, she sayes I know the art, 

and when 1 waile, she turnes hir selfe to laughter. 

So doe I weepe, and wayle, and pleade in vaine, 

whiles she as Steele and flint doth still remayne. 


THe merry Cuckow, messenger of Spring, 

His trompet shrill hath thrise already sounded: 
that warnes al louers wayt vpon their king, 
who now is comming forth with girland crouned. 

With noyse whereof the quyre of Byrds resounded 
their anthemes sweet devized of loues prayse, 
that all the woods theyr ecchoes back rebounded, 
as if they knew the meaning of their layes. 

But mongst them all, which did Loues honor rayse 
no word was heard of her that most it ought, 
but she his precept proudly disobayes, 
and doth his ydle message set at nought. 

Therefore O loue, vnlesse she turne to thee 
ere Cuckow end, let her a rebell be. 


IN vaine I seeke and sew to her for grace, 

and doe myne humbled hart before her poure: 
the whiles her foot she in my necke doth place, 
and tread my life downe in the lowly floure. 

And yet the Lyon that is Lord of power, 

and reigneth ouer euery beast in field: 
in his most pride disdeigneth to deuoure 
the silly lambe that to his might doth yield. 

But she more cruell and more saluage wylde, 
then either Lyon or the Lyonesse: 
shames not to be with guiltlesse bloud defylde, 
but taketh glory in her cruelnesse. 

Fayrer then fayrest let none euer say, 

chat ye were blooded in a yeelded pray. 

Amoretti 77_ 


WAs it the worke of nature or of Art, 

which tempted so the feature of her face, 
that pride and meeknesse mixt by equall part, 
doe both appeare t' adorne her beauties grace? 

For with mild pleasance, which doth pride displace, 
she to her loue doth lookers eyes allure: 
and with sterne countenance back again doth chace 
their looser lookes that stir vp lustes impure. 

With such strange termes her eyes she doth inure, 
that with one looke she doth my life dismay: 
and with another doth it streight recure, 
her smile me drawes, her frowne me driues away. 

Thus doth she traine and teach me with her lookes, 
such art of eyes I neuer read in bookes. 


THis holy season fit to fast and pray, 

Men to deuotion ought to be inclynd: 

therefore, I lykewise on so holy day, 

for my sweet Saynt some seruice fit will find. 
Her temple fayre is built within my mind, 

in which her glorious ymage placed is, 

on which my thoughts doo day and night attend 

lyke sacred priests that neuer thinke amisse. 
There I to her as th'author of my blisse, 

will builde an altar to appease her yre: 

and on the same my hart will sacrifise, 

burning in flames of pure and chast desyre: 
The which vouchsafe O goddesse to accept, 

amongst thy deerest relicks to be kept. 


PEnelope for her Vlisses sake, 

Deuiz'd a Web her wooers to deceaue: 

in which the worke that she all day did make 

the same at night she did againe vnreaue: 
Such subtile craft my Damzell doth conceaue, 

th'importune suit of my desire to shonne: 

for all that I in many dayes doo weaue, 

78 Amoretti 

in one short houre I find by her vndonne. 

So when I thinke to end that I begonne, 
I must begin and neuer bring to end: 
for with one looke she spils that long I sponne, 
and with one word my whole years work doth rend. 

Such labour like the Spyders web I fynd, 

whose fruitlesse worke is broken with least wynd. 


WHen I behold that beauties wonderment, 
And rare perfection of each goodly part: 
of natures skill the onely complement, 
I honor and admire the makers art. 

But when I feele the bitter balefull smart, 

which her fayre eyes vnwares doe worke in mee: 
that death out of theyr shiny beames doe dart, 
I thinke that I a new Pandora see, 

Whom all the Gods in councell did agree, 

into this sinfuU world from heauen to send: 
that she to wicked men a scourge should bee, 
for all their faults with which they did offend. 

But since ye are my scourge I will intreat, 

that for my faults ye will me gently beat. 


HOw long shall this lyke dying lyfe endure, 
And know no end of her owne mysery? 
but wast and weare away in terms vnsure, 
twixt feare and hope depending doubtfully. 

Yet better were attonce to let me die, 

and shew the last ensample of your pride: 

then to torment me thus with cruelty, 

to proue your powre, which I too wel haue tride. 

But yet if in your hardned brest ye hide 

a close intent at last to shew me grace: 
then all the woes and wrecks which I abide, 
as meanes of blisse I gladly wil embrace. 

And wish that more and greater they might be, 
that greater meede at last may turne to mee. 

Amoretti 79 


SWeet is the Rose, but growes vpon a brere; 

Sweet is the lunipere, but sharpe his bough; 

sweet is the Eglantine, but pricketh nere; 

sweet is the firbloome, but his braunches rough. 
Sweet is the Cypresse, but his rynd is tough, 

sweet is the nut, but bitter is his pill; 

sweet is the broome-flowre, but yet sowre enough; 

and sweet is Moly, but his root is ill. 
So euery sweet with soure is tempted still, 

that maketh it be coueted the more: 

for easie things that may be got at will, 

most sorts of men doe set but little store. 
Why then should I accoumpt of little paine, 

that endlesse pleasure shall vnto me gaine? 


FAire proud now tell me why should faire be proud, 
Sith all worlds glorie is but drosse vncleane: 
and in the shade of death it selfe shall shroud, 
how euer now thereof ye little weene. 

That goodly IdoU now so gay beseene, 

shall doffe her fleshes borowd fayre attyre: 

and be forgot as it had neuer beene, 

that many now much worship and admire. 

Ne any then shall after it inquire, 

ne any mention shall thereof remaine: 

but what this verse, that neuer shall expyre, 

shall to you purchas with her thankles paine. 

Faire be no lenger proud of that shall perish, 

but that which shal you make immortall, cherish. 


THe laurell leafe, which you this day doe weare, 
giues me great hope of your relenting mynd: 
for since it is the badg which I doe beare, 
ye bearing it doe seeme to me inclind: 

The powre thereof, which ofte in me I find, 
let it lykewise your gentle brest inspire 

80 Amoretti 

with sweet infusion, and put you in mind 

of that proud mayd, whom now those leaues attyre. 

Proud Daphne scorning Phaebus louely fyre, 

on the Thessahan shore from him did flee: 
for which the gods in theyr reuengefull yre 
did her transforme into a laurell tree. 

Then fly no more fayre loue from Phebus chace, 
but in your brest his leafe and loue embrace. 


SEe how the stubborne damzell doth depraue 

my simple meaning with disdaynfull scorne: 
and by the bay which I vnto her gaue, 
accoumpts my selfe her captiue quite forlorne. 

The bay (quoth she) is of the victours borne, 

yielded them by the vanquisht as theyr meeds, 
and they therewith doe poetes heads adorne, 
to sing the glory of their famous deedes. 

But sith she will the conquest challeng needs, 
let her accept me as her faithfuU thrall, 
that her great triumph which my skill exceeds, 
I may in trump of fame blaze ouer all. 

Then would I decke her head with glorious bayes, 
and fill the world with her victorious prayse. 


MY loue is lyke to yse, and I to fyre; 

how comes it then that this her cold so great 
is not dissolu'd through my so hot desyre, 
but harder growes the more I her intreat? 

Or how comes it that my exceeding heat 
is not delayd by her hart frosen cold: 
but that 1 burne much more in boyling sweat, 
and feele my flames augmented manifold? 

What more miraculous thing may be told 

that fire which all thing melts, should harden yse: 
and yse which is congeald with sencelesse cold, 
should kindle fyre by wonderfuU deuyse? 

Such is the powre of loue in gentle mind, 
that it can alter all the course of kynd. 

Amoretti 8J_ 


AH why hath nature to so hard a hart, 

giuen so goodly giftes of beauties grace? 

whose pryde depraues each other better part, 

and all those pretious ornaments deface. 
Sith to all other beastes of bloody race, 

a dreadfuU countenaunce she giuen hath: 

that with theyr terrour al the rest may chace, 

and warne to shun the daunger of theyr wrath. 
But my proud one doth worke the greater scath, 

through sweet allurement of her louely hew: 

that she the better may in bloody bath 

of such poore thralls her cruell hands embrew. 
But did she know how ill these two accord, 

such cruelty she would haue soone abhord. 


THe paynefuU smith with force of feruent heat, 

the hardest yron soone doth mollify: 

that with his heauy sledge he can it beat, 

and fashion to what he it list apply. 
Yet cannot all these flames in which I fry, 

her hart more harde then yron soft awhit: 

ne all the playnts and prayers with which I 

doe beat on th'anduyle of her stubberne wit: 
But still the more she feruent sees my fit, 

the more she frieseth in her wilfuU pryde: 

and harder growes the harder she is smit, 

with all the playnts which to her be applyde. 
What then remaines but I to ashes burne, 

and she to stones at length all frosen turne? 


GReat wrong I doe, I can it not deny, 

to that most sacred Empresse my dear dred, 

not finishing her Queene of faery, 

that mote enlarge her liuing prayses dead: 
But lodwick, this of grace to me aread: 

doe ye not thinck th'accomplishment of it 

82 Amoretti 

sufficient worke for one mans simple head, 
all were it as the rest but rudely writ. 

How then should I without another wit 

thinck euer to endure so taedious toyle? 
sins that this one is tost with troublous fit 
of a proud loue, that doth my spirite spoyle. 

Ceasse then, till she vouchsafe to grawnt me rest, 
or lend you me another liuing brest. 


LYke as a ship that through the Ocean wyde , 

by conduct of some star doth make her way,'^ 
whenas a storme hath dimd her trusty guyde, 
out of her course doth wander far astray: 

So I whose star, that wont with her bright ray 
me to direct, with cloudes is ouercast, 
doe wander now in darknesse and dismay, 
through hidden perils round about me plast. 

Yet hope I well, that when this storme is past 
my Helice the lodestar of my lyfe 
will shine again, and looke on me at last, 
with louely light to cleare my cloudy grief. 

Till then I wander carefuU comfortlesse, 
in secret sorow and sad pensiuenesse. 


MY hungry eyes through greedy couetize, 

still to behold the obiect of their paine: 
with no contentment can themselues suffize, 
but hauing pine and hauing not complaine. 

For lacking it they cannot lyfe sustayne, 

and hauing it they gaze on it the more: 

in their amazement lyke hJarcissus vaine 

whose eyes him statu 'd: so plenty makes me poore. 

Yet are mine eyes so filled with the store 

of that faire sight, that nothing else they brooke, 
but lothe the things which they did like before, 
and can no more endure on them to looke. 

All this worlds glory seemeth vayne to me, 

and all their showes but shadowes sauing she. 

Amoretti 83^ 


TEll me when shall these wearie woes haue end, 

Or shall their ruthlesse torment neuer cease: 

but al my dayes in pining languor spend, 

without hope of aswagement or release? 
Is there no meanes for me to purchace peace, 

or make agreement with her thrilling eyes: 

but that their cruelty doth still increace, 

and dayly more augment my miseryes? 
But when ye haue shewed all extremityes, 

then thinke how litle glory ye haue gayned 

by slaying him, whose lyfe though ye despyse, 

mote haue your life in honour long maintayned. 
But by his death which some perhaps will mone, 

ye shall condemned be of many a one. 


WHat guyle is this, that those her golden tresses 
She doth attyre vnder a net of gold: 
and with sly skill so cunningly them dresses, 
that which is gold or heare, may scarse be told? 

Is it that mens frayle eyes, which gaze too bold, 
she may entangle in that golden snare: 
and being caught may craftily enfold 
theyr weaker harts, which are not wel aware? 

Take heed therefore, myne eyes, how ye doe stare 
henceforth too rashly on that guilefuU net, 
in which if euer ye entrapped are, 
out of her bands ye by no meanes shall get. 

Fondnesse it were for any being free, 

to couet fetters, though they golden bee. 


ARion, when through tempests cruel wracke, 

He forth was thrown into the greedy seas: 

through the sweet musick which his harp did make 

allur'd a Dolphin him from death to ease. 
But my rude musick, which was wont to please 

some dainty eares, cannot with any skill 

84 Amoretti 

the dreadfull tempest of her wrath appease, 
nor moue the Dolphin from her stubborne will, 

But in her pride she dooth perseuer still, 

all carelesse how my life for her decayse: 
yet with one word she can it saue or spill, 
to spill were pitty, but to saue were prayse. 

Chose rather to be praysd for dooing good, 

then to be blam'd for spilling guiltlesse blood. 


SWeet smile, the daughter of the Queene of loue, , 
Expressing all thy mothers powrefuU art: 
with which she wonts to temper angry loue, 
when all the gods he threats with thundring dart. 

Sweet is thy vertue as thy selfe sweet art, 

for when on me thou shinedst late in sadnesse, 
a melting pleasance ran through euery part, 
and me reuiued with hart robbing gladnesse. 

Whylest rapt with ioy resembling heauenly madnes, 
my soule was rauisht quite as in a traunce: 
and feeling thence no more her sorowes sadnesse, 
fed on the fulnesse of that chearefuU glaunce. 

More sweet than Nectar or Ambrosiall meat 

seemd euery bit, which thenceforth I did eat. 


MArk when she smiles with amiable cheare. 
And tell me whereto can ye lyken it: 
when on each eyelid sweetly doe appeare 
an hundred Graces as in shade to sit. 

Lykest it seemeth in my simple wit 

vnto the fayre sunshine in somers day: 

that when a dreadfull storme away is flit, 

thrugh the broad world doth spred his goodly ray: 

At sight whereof each bird that sits on spray, 
and euery beast that to his den was fled, 
comes forth afresh out of their late dismay, 
and to the light lift vp theyr drouping hed. 

So my storme beaten hart likewise is cheated 

with that sunshine when cloudy looks are cleared. 

Amoretti 85^ 


IS it her nature or is it her will, 

to be so cruell to an humbled foe? 

if nature, then she may it mend with skill, 

if will, then she at will may will forgoe. 
But if her nature and her wil be so, 

that she will plague the man that loues her most: 

and take delight t'encrease a wretches woe, 

then all her natures goodly guifts are lost. 
And that same glorious beauties ydle boast 

is but a bayt such wretches to beguile: 

as being long in her loues tempest tost, 

she meanes at last to make her piteous spoyle. 
O fayrest fayre let neuer it be named, 

that so fayre beauty was so fowly shamed. 


THe loue which me so cruelly tormenteth, 
So pleasing is in my extreamest paine: 
that all the more my sorrow it augmenteth, 
the more I loue and doe embrace my bane. 

Ne doe 1 wish (for wishing were but vaine) 
to be acquit fro my continuall smart: 
but ioy her thrall for euer to remayne, 
and yield for pledge my poore captyued hart; 

The which that it from her may neuer start, 

let her, yf please her, bynd with adamant chayne: 
and from all wandring loues which mote peruart 
his safe assurance strongly it restrayne. 

Onely let her abstaine from cruelty, 

and doe me not before my time to dy. 


SHall 1 then silent be or shall 1 speake? 

And if 1 speake, her wrath renew I shall: 

and if I silent be, my hart will breake, 

or choked be with ouerflowing gall. 
What tyranny is this both my hart to thrall, 

and eke my toung with proud restraint to tie? 

86 Amoretti 

that nether I may speak nor thinke at all, 

but like a stupid stock in silence die. 
Yet I my hart with silence secretly 

will teach to speak, and my iust cause to plead: 

and eke mine eies with meeke humility, 

loue learned letters to her eyes to read. 
Which her deep wit, that true harts thought can spel, 

wil soone conceiue, and learne to construe well. 


WHen those renoumed noble Peres of Greece, 

thrugh stubborn pride amongst themselues did iar 

forgetful! of the famous golden fleece, 

then Orpheus with his harp theyr strife did bar. 

But this continuall cruell ciuill warre, 

the which my selfe against my selfe doe make: 
whilest my weak powres of passions warreid arre, 
no skill can stint nor reason can aslake. 

But when in hand my tunelesse harp 1 take, 

then doe I more augment my foes despight: 
and griefe renew, and passions doe awake 
to battaile fresh against my selfe to fight. 

Mongst whome the more 1 seeke to settle peace, 
the more I fynd their malice to increace. 


LEaue lady in your glasse of christall dene. 

Your goodly selfe for euermore to vew: 

and in my selfe, my inward selfe 1 meane, 

most liuely lyke behold your semblant trew. 
Within my hart, though hardly it can shew 

thing so diuine to vew of earthly eye: 

the fayre Idea oi your celestiall hew, 

and euery part remaines immortally: 
And were it not that through your cruelty, 

with sorrow dimmed and deformd it were: 

the goodly ymage of your visnomy, 

clearer then christall would therein appere. 
But if your selfe in me ye playne will see, 

remoue the cause by which your fayre beames darkned be. 

Amoretti 87 


WHen my abodes prefixed time is spent, 

My cruell fayre streight bids me wend my way: 

but then from heauen most hideous stormes are sent 

as willing me against her will to stay. 

Whom then shall I or heauen or her obay? 

the heauens know best what is the best for me: 
but as she will, whose will my life doth sway, 
my lower heauen, so it perforce must bee. 

But ye high heuens, that all this sorowe see, 

sith all your tempests cannot hold me backe: 
aswage your stormes, or else both you and she 
will both together me too sorely wrack. 

Enough it is for one man to sustaine 

the stormes, which she alone on me doth raine. 


TRust not the treason of those smyling lookes, 

vntill ye haue theyr guylefull traynes well tryde: 
for they are lyke but vnto golden hookes, 
that from the foolish fish theyr bayts doe hyde: 

So she with flattring smyles weake harts doth guyde 
vnto her loue and tempte to theyr decay, 
whom being caught she kills with cruell pryde, 
and feeds at pleasure on the wretched pray: 

Yet euen whylst her bloody hands them slay, 

her eyes looke louely and vpon them smyle: 
that they take pleasure in her cruell play, 
and dying doe them selues of payne beguyle. 

O mighty charm which makes men loue theyr bane, 

and thinck they dy with pleasure, liue with payne. 


INnocent paper whom too cruell hand 

Did make the matter to auenge her yre: 

and ere she could thy cause wel vnderstand, 

did sacrifize vnto the greedy fyre. 
Well worthy thou to haue found better hyre, 

then so bad end for hereticks ordayned: 

yet heresy nor treason didst conspire. 

88 Amoretti 

but plead thy maisters cause vniustly payned. 

Whom she all carelesse of his griefe constrayned 
to vtter forth the anguish of his hart: 
and would not heare, when he to her complayned, 
the piteous passion of his dying smart. 

Yet liue for euer, though against her will, 

and speake her good, though she requite it ill. 


FAyre cruell, why are ye so fierce and cruell? 
Is it because your eyes haue powre to kill? 
then know, that mercy is the mighties iewell, 
and greater glory thinke to saue, then spill. 

But if it be your pleasure and proud will, 

to shew the powre of your imperious eyes: 
then not on him that neuer thought you ill, 
but bend your force against your enemyes. 

Let them feele th'utmost of your crueltyes, 
and kill with looks as Cockatrices doo: 
but him that at your footstoole humbled lies, 
with mercifuU regard, giue mercy too. 

Such mercy shal you make admyred to be, 
so shall you liue by giuing life to me. 


LOng languishing in double malady, 

of my harts wound and of my bodies griefe: 
there came to me a leach that would apply 
fit medicines for my bodies best reliefe. 

Vayne man (quod I) that has but little priefe 
in deep discouery of the mynds disease, 
is not the hart of all the body chiefe? 
and rules the members as it selfe doth please? 

Then with some cordialls seeke first to appease 
the inward languour of my wounded hart, 
and then my body shall haue shortly ease: 
but such sweet cordialls passe Physitions art. 

TTien my lyfes Leach doe you your skill reueale, 
and with one salue both hart and body heale. 

Amoretti 89 


DOe I not see that fayrest ymages 

Of hardest Marble are of purpose made? 

for that they should endure through many ages, 

ne let theyr famous moniments to fade. 

Why then doe I, vntrainde in louers trade, 

her hardnes blame which I should more commend? 

sith neuer ought was excellent assayde, 

which was not hard t'atchiue and bring to end. 

Ne ought so hard, but he that would attend, 
mote soften it and to his will allure: 
so doe I hope her stubborne hart to bend, 
and that it then more stedfast will endure. 

Onely my paines wil be the more to get her, 
but hauing her, my ioy wil be the greater. 


SO oft as homeward I from her depart, 

I goe lyke one that hauing lost the field, 
is prisoner led away with heauy hart, 
despoyld of warlike armes and knowen shield. 

So doe I now my selfe a prisoner yeeld, 
to sorrow and to solitary paine: 
from presence of my dearest deare exylde, 
longwhile alone in languor to remaine. 

There let no thought of ioy or pleasure vaine 

dare to approch, that may my solace breed: 

but sudden dumps and drery sad disdayne 

of all worlds gladnesse more my torment feed. 

So I her absens will my penaunce make, 

that of her presens I my meed may take. 


THe Panther knowing that his spotted hyde 

Doth please all beasts but that his looks them fray: 
within a bush his dreadfull head doth hide, 
to let them gaze whylest he on them may pray. 

Right so my cruell fayre with me doth play, 
for with the goodly semblant of her hew. 

90 Amoretti 

she doth allure me to mine owne decay, 
and then no mercy will vnto me shew. 

Great shame it is, thing so diuine in view, 

made for to be the worlds most ornament: 
to make the bayte her gazers to embrew, 
good shames to be to ill an instrument. 

But mercy doth with beautie best agree, 

as in theyr maker ye them best may see. 


OF this worlds Theatre in which we stay, 
My loue lyke the Spectator ydly sits 
beholding me that all the pageants play, 
disguysing diuersly my troubled wits. 

Sometimes I ioy when glad occasion fits, 
and mask in myrth lyke to a Comedy: 
soone after when my ioy to sorrow flits, 
I waile and make my woes a Tragedy. 

Yet she beholding me with constant eye, 

delights not in my merth nor rues my smart: 
but when I laugh she mocks, and when I cry 
she laughes, and hardens euermore her hart. 

What then can moue her? if nor merth nor mone, 
she is no woman, but a sencelesse stone. 


SO oft as I her beauty doe behold. 

And therewith doe her cruelty compare: 
I maruaile of what substance was the mould 
the which her made attonce so cruell faire. 

Not earth; for her high thoghts more heauenly are, 
not water; for her loue doth burne like fyre: 
not ayre; for she is not so light or rare, 
not fyre; for she doth friese with faint desire. 

Then needs another Element inquire 

whereof she mote be made; that is the skye. 
for to the heauen her haughty lookes aspire: 
and eke her mind is pure immortall hye. 

Then sith to heauen ye lykened are the best, 
be lyke in mercy as in all the rest. 

Amoretti 91 


FAyre ye be sure, but cruell and vnkind, 
As is a Tygre that with greedinesse 
hunts after bloud, when he by chance doth find 
a feeble beast, doth felly him oppresse. 

Fayre be ye sure but proud and pittilesse, 

as is a storme, that all things doth prostrate: 
finding a tree alone all comfortlesse, 
beats on it strongly it to ruinate. 

Fayre be ye sure, but hard and obstinate, 
as is a rocke amidst the raging floods: 
gaynst which a ship of succour desolate, 
doth suffer wreck both of her selfe and goods. 

That ship, that tree, and that same beast am I, 
whom ye doe wreck, doe ruine, and destroy. 


SWeet warriour when shall I haue peace with you? 
High time it is, this warre now ended were: 
which I no lenger can endure to sue, 
ne your incessant battry more to beare: 

So weake my powres, so sore my wounds appeare, 
that wonder is how I should liue a iot, 
seeing my hart through launched euery where 
with thousand arrowes, which your eies haue shot: 

Yet shoot ye sharpely still, and spare me not, 

but glory thinke to make these cruel stoures. 

ye cruell one, what glory can be got, 

in slaying him that would liue gladly yours? 

Make peace therefore, and graunt me timely grace, 
that al my wounds wil heale in little space. 

By her that is most assured to her selfe. 

WEake is th'assurance that weake flesh reposeth 
In her owne powre and scorneth others ayde: 
that soonest fals when as she most supposeth 
her selfe assurd, and is of nought affrayd. 

All flesh is frayle, and all her strength vnstayd, 
like a vaine bubble blowen vp with ayre: 

92 Amoretti 

deuouring tyme and changeful chance haue prayd 
her glories pride that none may it repayre. 

Ne none so rich or wise, so strong or fayre, 

but fayleth trusting on his owne assurance: 
and he that standeth on the hyghest stayre 
fals lowest: for on earth nought hath enduraunce. 

Why then doe ye proud fayre, misdeeme so farre, 
that to your selfe ye most assured arre? 


THrise happie she, that is so well assured 
Vnto her selfe and setled so in hart: 
that nether will for better be allured, 
ne feard with worse to any chaunce to start, 

But like a steddy ship, doth strongly part 

the raging waues and keepes her course aright: 
ne ought for tempest doth from it depart, 
ne ought for fayrer weathers false delight. 

Such selfe assurance need not feare the spight 
of grudging foes, ne fauour seek of friends: 
but in the stay of her owne stedfast might, 
nether to one her selfe nor other bends. 

Most happy she that most assured doth rest, 

but he most happy who such one loues best. 


THey that in course of heauenly spheares are skild, 
To euery planet point his sundry yeare: 
in which her circles voyage is fulfild, 
as Mars in three score yeares doth run his spheare. 

So since the winged God his planet cleare, 

began in me to moue, one yeare is spent: 
the which doth longer vnto me appeare, 
then al those fourty which my life outwent. 

TTien by that count, which louers books inuent, 
the spheare of Cupid fourty yeares containes: 
which 1 haue wasted in long languishment, 
that seemd the longer for my greater paines. 

But let my loues fayre Planet short her wayes 
this yeare ensuing, or else short my dayes. 

Amoretti 93 


THe glorious image of the makers beautie, 

My souerayne saynt, the Idoll of my thought, 
dare not henceforth aboue the bounds of dewtie 
t'accuse of pride, or rashly blame for ought. 

For being as she is diuinely wrought, 

and of the brood of Angels heuenly borne: 
and with the crew of blessed Saynts vpbrought, 
each of which did her with theyr guifts adorne; 

The bud of ioy, the blossome of the morne, 

the beame of light, whom mortal eyes admyre: 
what reason is it then but she should scorne 
base things that to her loue too bold aspire? 

Such heauenly formes ought rather worshipt be, 
then dare be lou'd by men of meane degree. 


THe weary yeare his race now hauing run, 

The new begins his compast course anew: 
with shew of morning mylde he hath begun, 
betokening peace and plenty to ensew. 

So let vs, which this chaunge of weather vew, 

chaunge eeke our mynds and former Hues amend: 
the old yeares sinnes forepast let vs eschew, 
and fly the faults with which we did offend. 

Then shall the new yeares ioy forth freshly send 
into the glooming world his gladsome ray: 
and all these stormes which now his beauty blend, 
shall turne to caulmes and tymely cleare away. 

So likewise loue cheare you your heauy spright, 

and chaunge old yeares annoy to new delight. 


AFter long stormes and tempests sad assay, 
Which hardly I endured heretofore: 
in dread of death and daungerous dismay, 
with which my silly barke was tossed sore: 

I doe at length descry the happy shore, 

in which I hope ere long for to arryue: 

fayre soyle it seemes from far and fraught with store 

94 Amoretti 

of all that deare and daynty is alyue. 

Most happy he that can at last atchyue 
the ioyous safety of so sweet a rest: 
whose least delight sufficeth to depriue 
remembrance of all paines which him opprest. 

All paines are nothing in respect of this, 

all sorrowes short that gaine eternall blisse. 


COmming to kisse her lyps, (such grace 1 found) 
Me seemd I smelt a gardin of sweet flowres: , 
that dainty odours from them threw around 
for damzels fit to decke their louers bowres. 

Her lips did smell lyke vnto Gillyflowers, 

her ruddy cheekes lyke vnto Roses red: 
her snowy browes lyke budded Bellamoures, 
her louely eyes lyke Pincks but newly spred, 

Her goodly bosome lyke a Strawberry bed, 

her neck lyke to a bounch of Cullambynes: 
her brest lyke lillyes, ere theyr leaues be shed, 
her nipples lyke yong blossomd lessemynes: 

Such fragrant flowres doe giue most odorous smell, 
but her sweet odour did them all excell. 


THe doubt which ye misdeeme, fayre loue, is vaine, 
That fondly feare to loose your liberty, 
when loosing one, two liberties ye gayne, 
and make him bond that bondage earst dyd fly. 

Sweet be the bands, the which true loue doth tye, 
without constraynt or dread of any ill: 
the gentle birde feeles no captiuity 
within her cage, but singes and feeds her fill. 

There pride dare not approch, nor discord spill 

the league twixt them, that loyal loue hath bound: 

but simple truth and mutuall good will, 

seekes with sweet peace to salue each others wound: 

There fayth doth fearlesse dwell in brasen towre, 
and spotlesse pleasure builds her sacred bowre. 

Amoretd 95 


TO all those happy blessings which ye haue, 

with plenteous hand by heauen vpon you thrown, 
this one disparagement they to you gaue, 
that ye your loue lent to so meane a one, 

Yee whose high worths surpassing paragon, 

could not on earth haue found one fit for mate, 
ne but in heauen matchable to none, 
why did ye stoup vnto so lowly state? 

But ye thereby much greater glory gate, 

then had ye sorted with a princes pere: 
for now your light doth more it selfe dilate, 
and in my darknesse greater doth appeare. 

Yet since your light hath once enlumind me, 
with my reflex yours shall encreased be. 


LYke as a huntsman after weary chace. 

Seeing the game from him escapt away, 
sits downe to rest him in some shady place, 
with panting hounds beguiled of their pray, 

So after long pursuit and vaine assay, 

when I all weary had the chace forsooke, 
the gentle deare returnd the selfe-same way, 
thinking to quench her thirst at the next brooke. 

There she beholding me with mylder looke, 

sought not to fly, but fearelesse still did bide: 
till I in hand her yet halfe trembling tooke, 
and with her owne goodwill hir fyrmely tyde. 

Strange thing me seemd to see a beast so wyld, 

so goodly wonne with her owne will beguyld. 


MOst glorious Lord of lyfe that on this day 

Didst make thy triumph ouer death and sin: 
and hauing harowd hell didst bring away 
captiuity thence captiue vs to win: 

This ioyous day, deare Lord, with ioy begin, 

and grant that we for whom thou diddest dye 

96 Amoretti 

being with thy deare blood dene washt from sin, 
may liue for euer in felicity: 

And that thy loue we weighing worthily, 

may likewise loue thee for the same againe: 
and for thy sake that all lyke deare didst buy, 
with loue may one another entertayne. 

So let vs loue, deare loue, lyke as we ought, 

loue is the lesson which the Lord vs taught. 


THe famous warriors of the anticke world, 
Vsed Trophees to erect in stately wize: 
in which they would the records haue enrold, 
of theyr great deeds and valarous emprize. 

What trophee then shall I most fit deuize, 
in which I may record the memory 
of my loues conquest, peerelesse beauties prise, 
adorn'd with honour, loue, and chastity? 

Euen this verse vowd to eternity, 

shall be thereof immortall moniment: 

and tell her prayse to all posterity, 

that may admire such worlds rare wonderment. 

The happy purchase of my glorious spoile, 

gotten at last with labour and long toyle. 


FResh spring the herald of loues mighty king, 
In whose cote armour richly are displayd 
all sorts of flowers the which on earth do spring 
in goodly colours gloriously arrayd: 

Goe to my loue, where she is careless layd, 
yet in her winters bowre not well awake: 
tell her the ioyous time wil not be staid 
vnlesse she doe him by the forelock take. 

Bid her therefore her selfe soone ready make, 
to wayt on loue amongst his louely crew: 
where euery one that misseth then her make 
shall be by him amearst with penance dew. 

Make hast therefore sweet loue, whilest it is prime, 
for none can call againe the passed time. 

Amoretti 97 


I loy to see how in your drawen work, 

Your selfe vnto the Bee ye doe compare; 
and me vnto the Spyder that doth lurke 
in close awayt to catch her vnaware. 

Right so your selfe were caught in cunning snare 
of a deare foe, and thralled to his loue: 
in whose streight bands ye now captiued are 
so firmely, that ye neuer may remoue. 

But as your worke is wouen all aboue, 

with woodbynd flowers and fragrant Eglantine: 
so sweet your prison you in time shall proue, 
with many deare delights bedecked fyne. 

And all thensforth eternall peace shall see, 

betweene the Spyder and the gentle Bee. 


OFt when my spirit doth spred her bolder winges. 
In mind to mount vp to the purest sky: 
it down is weighd with thoght of earthly things 
and clogd with burden of mortality, 

Where when that souerayne beauty it doth spy, 
resembling heauens glory in her light: 
drawne with sweet pleasures bayt, it back doth fly, 
and vnto heauen forgets her former flight. 

There my fraile fancy fed with full delight, 

doth bath in blisse and mantleth most at ease: 
ne things of other heauen, but how it might 
her harts desire with most contentment please. 

Hart need not wish none other happinesse, 

but here on earth to haue such heuens blisse. 


BEing my selfe captyued here in care. 

My hart, whom none with seruile bands can tye, 
but the fayre tresses of your golden hayre, 
breaking his prison forth to you doth fly. 

Lyke as a byrd that in ones hand doth spy 
desired food, to it doth make his flight: 
euen so my hart, that wont on your fayre eye 

98 Amoretti 

to feed his fill, flyes backe vnto your sight. 

Doe you him take, and in your bosome bright, 
gently encage, that he may be your thrall: 
perhaps he there may learne with rare delight, 
to sing your name and prayses ouer all. 

That it hereafter may you not repent, 

him loding in your bosome to haue lent. 


MOst happy letters fram'd by skilfuU trade, 

with which that happy name was first desynd: 
the which three times thrise happy hath me made, 
with guifts of body, fortune and of mind. 

The first my being to me gaue by kind, 

from mothers womb deriu'd by dew descent, 
the second is my souereigne Queene most kind, 
that honour and large richesse to me lent. 

The third my loue, my liues last ornament, 

by whom my spirit out of dust was raysed: 
to speake her prayse and glory excellent, 
of all aliue most worthy to be praysed. 

Ye three Elizabeths for euer liue, 

that three such graces did vnto me giue. 


ONe day I wrote her name vpon the strand, 
but came the waues and washed it away: 
agayne I wrote it with a second hand, 
but came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray. 

Vayne man, sayd she, that doest in vaine assay, 
a mortall thing so to immortalize, 
for I my selue shall lyke to this decay, 
and eek my name bee wyped out lykewise. 

Not so, (quod I) let baser things deuize 

to dy in dust, but you shall liue by fame: 
my verse your vertues rare shall eternize, 
and in the heuens wryte your glorious name, 

Where whenas death shall all the world subdew, 
our loue shall liue, and later life renew. 

Amoretti 99 


FAyre bosome fraught with vertues richest tresure, 
The neast of loue, the lodging of delight: 
the bowre of blisse, the paradice of pleasure, 
the sacred harbour of that heuerily spright: 

How was I rauisht with your louely sight, 

and my frayle thoughts too rashly led astray? 
whiles diuing deepe through amorous insight, 
on the sweet spoyle of beautie they did pray. 

And twixt her paps like early fruit in May, 

whose haruest seemd to hasten now apace: 
they loosely did theyr wanton winges display, 
and there to rest themselues did boldly place. 

Sweet thoughts I enuy your so happy rest, 

which oft I wisht, yet neuer was so blest. 


WAs it a dreame, or did I see it playne, 
a goodly table of pure yvory: 
all spred with iuncats, fit to entertayne 
the greatest Prince with pompous roialty? 

Mongst which there in a siluer dish did ly 
twoo golden apples of vnualewd price: 
far passing those which Hercules came by, 
or those which Atalanta did entice. 

Exceeding sweet, yet voyd of sinfull vice. 

That many sought yet none could euer taste, 
sweet fruit of pleasure brought from paradice 
by loue himselfe and in his garden plaste. 

Her brest that table was so richly spredd, 

my thoughts the guests, which would thereon haue fedd. 


LAckyng my loue I go from place to place, 

lyke a young fawne that late hath lost the hynd: 
and seeke each where, where last I sawe her face, 
whose ymage yet I carry fresh in mynd. 

I seeke the fields with her late footing synd, 

I seeke her bowre with her late presence deckt. 

100 Amoretti 

yet nor in field nor bowre I her can fynd: 
yet field and bowre are full of her aspect. 

But when myne eyes I thereunto direct, 
they ydly back returne to me agayne, 
and when I hope to see theyr trew obiect, 
I fynd my selfe but fed with fancies vayne. 

Ceasse then myne eyes, to seeke her selfe to see, 
and let my thoughts behold her selfe in mee. 


MEn call you fayre, and you doe credit it. 

For that your selfe ye dayly such doe see: ^ / 

but the trew fayre, that is the gentle wit, 

and vertuous mind is much more praysd of me. 

For all the rest, how euer fayre it be, 

shall turne to nought and loose that glorious hew: 

but onely that is permanent and free 

from frayle corruption, that doth flesh ensew. 

That is true beautie: that doth argue you 

to be diuine and borne of heauenly seed: 
deriu'd from that fayre Spirit, from whom al true 
and perfect beauty did at first proceed. 

He onely fayre, and what he fayre hath made, 
all other fayre lyke flowres vntymely fade. 


AFter so long a race as I haue run 

Through Faery land, which those six books compile, 
giue leaue to rest me being halfe fordonne, 
and gather to my selfe new breath awhile. 

Then as a steed refreshed after toyle, 

out of my prison I will breake anew: 

and stoutly will that second worke assoyle, 

with strong endeuour and attention dew. 

Till then giue leaue to me in pleasant mew, 

to sport my muse and sing my loues sweet praise: 
the contemplation of whose heauenly hew, 
my spirit to an higher pitch will rayse. 

But let her prayses yet be low and meane, 

fit for the handmayd of the Faery Queene. 

Amoretti 101 


FAyre is my loue, when her fayre golden heares, 

with the loose wynd ye wauing chance to marke: 
fayre when the rose in her red cheekes appeares, 
or in her eyes the fyre of loue does sparke. 

Fayre when her brest lyke a rich laden barke, 

with pretious merchandize she forth doth lay: 

fayre when that cloud of pryde, which oft doth dark 

her goodly light with smiles she driues away. 

But fayrest she, when so she doth display 

the gate with pearles and rubyes richly dight: 
throgh which her words so wise do make their way 
to beare the message of her gentle spright: 

The rest be works of natures wonderment, 

but this the worke of harts astonishment. 


lOy of my life, full oft for louing you 

1 blesse my lot, that was so lucky placed: 
but then the more your owne mishap I rew, 
that are so much by so meane loue embased. 

For had the equall heuens so much you graced 
in this as in the rest, ye mote inuent 
som heuenly wit, whose verse could haue enchased 
your glorious name in golden moniment. 

But since ye deignd so goodly to relent 

to me your thrall, in whom is little worth, 
that little that 1 am, shall all be spent 
in setting your immortall prayses forth. 

Whose lofty argument vplifting me, 

shall lift you vp vnto an high degree. 


MY hungry eyes, through greedy couetize 

Still to behold the obiect of theyr payne: 
with no contentment can themselues suffize, 
but hauing pine, and hauing not complayne. 

For lacking it, they cannot lyfe sustayne, 

and seeing it, they gaze on it the more: 

102 Amoretti 

in theyr amazement lyke Narcissus vayne 

whose eyes him staru'd: so plenty makes me pore. 

Yet are myne eyes so filled with the store 

of that fayre sight, that nothing else they brooke: 
but loath the things which they did like before, 
and can no more endure on them to looke. 

All this worlds glory seemeth vayne to me, 

and all theyr shewes but shadowes sauing she. 


LEt not one sparke of filthy lustfuU fyre 

breake out, that may her sacred peace molest:, 
ne one light glance of sensuall desyre 
Attempt to work her gentle mindes vnrest. 

But pure affections bred in spotlesse brest, 

and modest thoughts breathd from wel tempted sprites, 
goe visit her in her chast bowre of rest, 
accompanyde with angelick delightes. 

There fill your selfe with those most ioyous sights, 
the which my selfe could neuer yet attayne: 
but speake no word to her of these sad plights, 
which her too constant stiffenesse doth constrayn. 

Onely behold her rare perfection, 

and blesse your fortunes fayre election. 


THe world that cannot deeme of worthy things, 
when I doe praise her, say I doe but flatter: 
so does the Cuckow, when the Mauis sings, 
begin his witlesse note apace to clatter. 

But they that skill not of so heauenly matter, 
all that they know not, enuy or admyre, 
rather then enuy let them wonder at her, 
but not to deeme of her desert aspyre. 

Deepe in the closet of my parts entyre, 

her worth is written with a golden quill: 
that me with heauenly fury doth inspire, 
and my glad mouth with her sweet prayses fill. 

Which when as fame in her shrill trump shal thunder, 
let the world chose to enuy or to wonder. 

Amoretti 103 


VEnemous toung tipt with vile adders sting, 

Of that selfe kynd with which the Furies fell 
theyr snaky heads doe combe, from which a spring 
of poysoned words and spitefull speeches well, 

Let all the plagues and horrid paines of hell, 
vpon thee fall for thine accursed hyre: 
that with false forged lyes, which thou didst tel, 
in my true loue did stirre vp coles of yre. 

The sparkes whereof let kindle thine own fyre, 

and catching hold on thine owne wicked hed 
consume thee quite, that didst with guile conspire 
in my sweet peace such breaches to haue bred. 

Shame be thy meed, and mischiefe thy reward, 
dew to thy selfe that it for me prepard. 


Since 1 did leaue the presence of my loue. 

Many long weary dayes 1 haue outworne: 
and many nights, that slowly seemd to moue 
theyr sad protract from euening vntill morne. 

For when as day the heauen doth adorne, 

I wish that night the noyous day would end: 
and when as night hath vs of light forlorne, 
1 wish that day would shortly reascend. 

Thus I the time with expectation spend, 

and faine my griefe with chaunges to beguile, 
that further seemes his terme still to extend, 
and maketh euery minute seeme a myle. 

So sorrow still doth seeme too long to last, 
but ioyous houres doo fly away too fast. 


Since 1 haue lackt the comfort of that light, 

The which was wont to lead my thoughts astray: 
1 wander as in darknesse of the night, 
affrayd of euery dangers least dismay. 

Ne ought 1 see, though in the clearest day, 

when others gaze vpon theyr shadowes vayne: 

104 Amoretti 

but th'onely image of that heauenly ray, 
whereof some glance doth in mine eie remayne. 

Of which beholding the Idaea playne, 

through contemplation of my purest part: 
with light thereof I doe my selfe sustayne, 
and thereon feed my loue-affamisht hart. 

But with such brightnesse whylest I fill my mind, 
I starue my body and mine eyes doe blynd. 


LYke as the Culuer on the bared bough 

Sits mourning for the absence of her mate: 
and in her songs sends many a wishful! vow, 
for his returne that seemes to linger late. 

So I alone now left disconsolate, 

mourne to my selfe the absence of my loue: 

and wandring here and there all desolate, 

seek with my playnts to match that mournful doue: 

Ne ioy of ought that vnder heauen doth houe 
can comfort me, but her owne ioyous sight: 
whose sweet aspect both God and man can moue, 
in her vnspotted pleasauns to delight. 

Dark is my day, whyles her fayre light I mis, 

and dead my life that wants such liuely blis. 


IN youth before I waxed old, 

The blynd boy Venus baby, 

For want of cunning made me bold, 

In bitter hyue to grope for honny. 

But when he saw me stung and cry, 
He tooke his wings and away did fly. 

AS Diane hunted on a day. 

She chaunst to come where Cupid lay, 
his quiuer by his head: 
One of his shafts she stole away, 10 

And one of hers did close conuay, 
into the others stead: 

With that loue wounded my loues hart, 
but Diane beasts with Cupids dart. 

I Saw in secret to my Dame, 

How little Cupid humbly came: 

and sayd to her All hayle my mother. 
But when he saw me laugh, for shame 
His face with bashfuU blood did flame, 

not knowing Venus from the other. 20 

Then neuer blush Cupid (quoth 1) 

for many haue err'd in this beauty. 

Vpon a day as loue lay sweetly slumbring, 

all in his mothers lap: 
A gentle Bee with his loud trumpet murm'ring, 

about him flew by hap. 
Whereof when he was wakened with the noyse, 

and saw the beast so small: 

106 Anacreontics 

Whats this (quoth he) that giues so great a voyce, 

that wakens men withall? 30 

In angry wize he flyes about, 

and threatens all with corage stout. 

To whom his mother closely smiling sayd, 

twixt earnest and twixt game: 
See thou thy selfe likewise art lyttle made, 

if thou regard the same. 
And yet thou suffrest neyther gods in sky, 

nor men in earth to rest: 
But when thou art disposed cruelly, 

theyr sleepe thou doost molest. 40 

Then eyther change thy cruelty, 

or giue lyke leaue vnto the fly. 

Nathlesse the cruell boy not so content, 

would needs the fly pursue: 
And in his hand with heedlesse hardiment, 

him caught for to subdue. 
But when on it he hasty hand did lay, 

the Bee him stung therefore: 
Now out alasse (he cryde) and welaway, 

I wounded am full sore: 50 

The fly that I so much did scorne, 

hath hurt me with his little home. 

Vnto his mother straight he weeping came, 

and of his griefe complayned: 
Who could not chose but laugh at his fond game, 

though sad to see him pained. 
Think now (quod she) my sonne how great the smart 

of those whom thou dost wound: 
Full many thou has pricked to the hart, 

that pitty neuer found: 60 

Therefore henceforth some pitty take, 

when thou doest spoyle of louers make. 

She tooke him streight full pitiously lamenting, 

and wrapt him in her smock: 
She wrapt him softly, all the while repenting, 

that he the fly did mock. 

Anacreontics 107 

She drest his wound and it embaulmed wel 

with salue of soueraigne might: 
And then she bath'd him in a dainty well 

the well of deare delight. 70 

Who would not oft be stung as this, 

to be so bath'd in Venus blis? 

The wanton boy was shortly wel recured 

of that his malady: 
But he soone after fresh againe enured 

his former cruelty. 
And since that time he wounded hath my selfe 

with his sharpe dart of loue: 
And now forgets the cruell carelesse elfe, 

his mothers heast to proue. 80 

So now I languish till he please 

my pining anguish to appease. 




YE learned sisters which haue oftentimes 

beene to me ayding, others to adorne: 
Whom ye thought worthy of your graceful! rymes, 
That euen the greatest did not greatly scorne 
To heare theyr names sung in your simple layes, 
But ioyed in theyr prayse, 

And when ye list your owne mishaps to mourne, 
Which death, or loue, or fortunes wreck did rayse, 
Your string could soone to sadder tenor turne, 
And teach the woods and waters to lament 10 

Your dolefull dreriment, 
Now lay those sorrowfuU complaints aside, 
And hauing all your heads with girland crownd, 
Helpe me mine owne loues prayses to resound, 
Ne let the same of any be enuide, 
So Orpheus did for his owne bride, 
So I vnto my selfe alone will sing. 
The woods shall to me answer and my Eccho ring. 


EArly before the worlds light giuing lampe 

His golden beame vpon the hils doth spred, 20 

Hauing disperst the nights vnchearefull dampe. 
Doe ye awake and with fresh lusty hed, 
Go to the bowre of my beloued loue, 
My truest turtle doue, 
Bid her awake; for Hymen is awake. 
And long since ready forth his maske to moue. 
With his bright Tead that flames with many a flake. 
And many a bachelor to waite on him. 
In theyr fresh garments trim. 

Epithalamion 109 

Bid her awake therefore and soone her dight, 30 

For lo the wished day is come at last, 

That shall for al the paynes and sorrowes past, 

Pay to her vsury of long delight, 

And whylest she doth her dight, 

Doe ye to her of ioy 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 riuers and the forrests greene: 
And of the sea that neighbours to her neare, 
Al with gay girlands goodly wel beseene. 40 

And let them also with them bring in hand 
Another gay girland 
For my fayre loue of lillyes and of roses, 
Bound trueloue wize with a blew silke riband. 
And let them make great store of bridale poses, 
And let them eeke bring store of other flowers 
To deck the bridale bowers. 
And let the ground whereas her foot shall tread. 
For feare the stones her tender foot should wrong. 
Be strewed with fragrant flowers all along, 50 

And diapred lyke the discolored mead. 
Which done, doe at her chamber dore awayt. 
For she will waken strayt. 
The whiles doe ye this song vnto her sing, 
The woods shall to you answer and your Eccho ring. 


YE Nymphes of MuUa which with carefuU heed, 

The siluer scaly trouts doe tend full well, 
and greedy pikes which vse therein to feed, 
(Those trouts and pikes all others doo excell) 
And ye likewise which keepe the rushy lake, 60 

Where none doo fishes take, 
Bynd vp the locks the which hang scatterd light. 
And in his waters which your mirror make. 
Behold your faces as the christall bright, 
That when you come whereas my loue doth lie. 
No blemish she may spie. 
And eke ye lightfoot mayds which keepe the dere, 

1 10 Epithalamion 

That on the hoary mountayne vse to towre, 

And the wylde wolues which seeke them to deuoure, 

With your Steele darts doo chace from comming neer, 70 

Be also present heere, 

To helpe to decke her and to help to sing, 

That all the woods may answer and your eccho ring. 


WAke, now my loue, awake; for it is time, 

The Rosy Morne long since left Tithones bed. 
All ready to her siluer coche to clyme. 
And Phoebus gins to shew his glorious hed. 
Hark how the cheereftiU birds do chaunt theyr laies 
And carroU of loues praise. 

The merry Larke hir mattins sings aloft, 80 

The thrush replyes, the Mauis descant playes. 
The Ouzell shrills, the Ruddock warbles soft, 
So goodly all agree with sweet consent. 
To this dayes merriment. 

Ah my deere loue why doe ye sleepe thus long. 
When meeter were that ye should now awake, 
T'awayt the comming of your ioyous make, 
And hearken to the birds louelearned song. 
The deawy leaues among? 

For they of ioy and pleasance to you sing, 90 

That all the woods them answer and theyr eccho ring. 


MY loue is now awake out of her dreames, 

and her fayre eyes like stars that dimmed were 
With darksome cloud, now shew theyr goodly beams 
More bright then Hesperus his head doth rere. 
Come now ye damzels, daughters of delight, 
Helpe quickly her to dight. 
But first come ye fayre houres which were begot 
In loues sweet paradice, of Day and Night, 
Which doe the seasons of the yeare allot, 100 

And al that euer in this world is fayre »: 

Doe make and still repayre. 
And ye three handmayds of the Cyprian Queene, 
The which doe still adorne her beauties pride, 
Helpe to addorne my beautifullest bride 

Epithalamion 111 

And as ye her array, still throw betweene 

Some graces to be seene, 

And as ye vse to Venus, to her sing, 

The whiles the woods shal answer and your eccho ring. 


NOw is my loue all ready forth to come, 110 

Let all the virgins therefore well awayt, 
And ye fresh boyes that tend vpon her groome 
Prepare your selues; for he is comming strayt. 
Set all your things in seemely good aray 
Fit for so ioyfull day, 
The ioyfulst day that euer sunne did see. 
Faire Sun, shew forth thy fauourable ray. 
And let thy lifull heat not feruent be 
For feare of burning her sunshyny face. 

Her beauty to disgrace. 120 

O fayrest Phoebus, father of the Muse, 
If euer I did honour thee aright. 
Or sing the thing, that mote thy mind delight. 
Doe not thy seruants simple boone refuse. 
But let this day let this one day be myne, 
Let all the rest be thine. 
Then I thy souerayne prayses loud wil sing, 
That all the woods shal answer and theyr eccho ring. 


HArke how the Minstrels gin to shrill aloud 

Their merry Musick that resounds from far, 130 

The pipe, the tabor, and the trembling Croud, 
That well agree withouten breach or iar. 
But most of all the Damzels doe delite. 
Whey they their tymbrels smyte. 
And thereunto doe daunce and carrol sweet. 
That all the sences they doe rauish quite. 
The whyles the boyes run vp and downe the street. 
Crying aloud with strong confused noyce. 
As if it were one voyce. 

Hymen io Hymen, Hymen they do shout, 140 

That euen to the heauens theyr shouting shrill 
Doth reach, and all the firmament doth fill. 
To which the people standing all about, 

112 Epithalamion 

As in approuance doe thereto applaud 

And loud aduaunce her laud, 

And euermore they Hymen Hymen sing, 

that al the woods them answer and theyr eccho ring. 


LOe where she comes along with portly pace, 

Lyke Phoebe from her chamber of the East, 
Arysing forth to run her mighty race, 150 

Clad all in white, that seemes a virgin best. 
So well it her beseemes that ye would weene 
Some angell she had beene. 
Her long loose yellow locks lyke golden wyre, 
Sprinckled with perle, and perling flowres a tweene. 
Doe lyke a golden mantle her attyre. 
And being crowned with a girland greene, 
Seeme lyke some mayden Queene. 
Her modest eyes abashed to behold 

So many gazers, as on her do stare, 160 

Vpon the lowly ground affixed are. 
Ne dare lift vp her countenance too bold. 
But blush to heare her prayses sung so loud. 
So farre from being proud. 
Nathlesse doe ye still loud her prayses sing. 
That all the woods may answer and your eccho ring. 


TEll me ye merchants daughters did ye see 

So fayre a creature in your towne before? 
So sweet, so louely, and so mild as she, 

Adornd with beautyes grace and vertues store, 170 

Her goodly eyes lyke Saphyres shining bright. 
Her forehead yuory white, 

Her cheekes lyke apples which the sun hath rudded. 
Her lips lyke cherryes charming men to byte. 
Her brest like to a bowle of creame vncrudded, 
Her paps lyke lyllies budded, 
Her snowie necke lyke to a marble towre, 
And all her body like a pallace fayre, 
Ascending vppe with many a stately stayre. 
To honors seat and chastities sweet bowre. 180 

Why stand ye still ye virgins in amaze, 

Epithalamion 113 

Vpon her so to gaze, 

Whiles ye forget your former lay to sing, 

To which the woods did answer and your eccho ring? 


BVt if ye saw that which no eyes can see, 

The inward beauty of her liuely spright, 
Garnisht with heauenly guifts of high degree, 
Much more then would ye wonder at that sight, 
And stand astonisht lyke to those which red 
Medusaes mazeful hed. 190 

There dwels sweet loue and constant chastity, 
Vnspotted fayth and comely womanhed. 
Regard of honour and mild modesty. 
There vertue raynes as Queene in royal throne. 
And giueth lawes alone. 
The which the base affections doe obay. 
And yeeld theyr seruices vnto her will, 
Ne thought of thing vncomely euer may 
Thereto approch to tempt her mind to ill. 

Had ye once seene these her celestial threasures, 200 

And vnreuealed pleasures, 
Then would ye wonder and her prayses sing. 
That al the woods should answer and your echo ring. 


OPen the temple gates vnto my loue, 

Open them wide that she may enter in. 
And all the postes adorne as doth behoue, 
And all the pillours deck with girlands trim, 
For to recyue this Saynt with honour dew, 
That commeth in to you. 

With trembling steps and humble reuerence, 210 

She commeth in, before th'almighties vew: 
Of her ye virgins learne obedience, 
When so ye come into those holy places, 
To humble your proud faces; 
Bring her vp to th'high altar that she may 
The sacred ceremonies there partake. 
The which do endlesse matrimony make. 
And let the roring Organs loudly play 
The praises of the Lord in liuely notes, 

114 Epithalamion 

The whiles with hollow throates 220 

The Choristers the ioyous Antheme sing, 

That al the woods may answere and their eccho ring. 


Behold whiles she before the altar stands 

Hearing the holy priest that to her speakes 
And blesseth her with his two happy hands, 
How the red roses flush vp in her cheekes, 
And the pure snow with goodly vermill stayne, 
Like crimsin dyde in grayne. 

That euen th'Angels which continually, ' 

About the sacred Altare doe remaine, 230 

Forget their seruice and about her fly, 
Ofte peeping in her face that seemes more fayre. 
The more they on it stare. 
But her sad eyes still fastened on the ground. 
Are gouerned with goodly modesty, 
That suffers not one looke to glaunce awry. 
Which may let in a little thought vnsownd. 
Why blush ye loue to giue to me your hand. 
The pledge of all our band? 

Sing ye sweet Angels, Alleluya sing, 240 

That all the woods may answere and your eccho ring. 


NOw al is done; bring home the bride againe, 

bring home the triumph of our victory, 
Bring home with you the glory of her gaine, 
With ioyance bring her and with iollity. 
Neuer had man more ioyfull day then this, 
Whom heauen would heape with blis. 
Make feast therefore now all this Hue long day. 
This day for euer to me holy is. 

Poure out the wine without restraint or stay, 250 

Poure not by cups, but by the belly full, 
Poure out to all that wull. 
And sprinkle all the postes and wals with wine. 
That they may sweat, and drunken be withall. 
Crowne ye God Bacchus with a coronall. 
And Hymen also crowne with wreathes of vine, 
And let the Graces daunce vnto the rest; 

Epithalamion 1 15 

For they can doo it best: 

The whiles the maydens doe theyr carroll sing, 

To which the woods shal answer and theyr eccho ring. 260 


Ring ye the bels, ye yong men of the towne, 

And leaue your wonted labors for this day: 
This day is holy; doe ye write it downe, 
that ye for euer it remember may. 
This day the sunne is in his chiefest hight, 
With Barnaby the bright, 
From whence declining daily by degrees, 
He somewhat loseth of his heat and light. 
When once the Crab behind his back he sees. 
But for this time it ill ordained was, 270 

To chose the longest day in all the yeare. 
And shortest night, when longest fitter weare: 
Yet neuer day so long, but late would passe. 
Ring ye the bels, to make it weare away, 
And bonefiers make all day. 
And daunce about them, and about them sing: 
that all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring. 


AH when will this long weary day haue end, 

and lende me leaue to come vnto my loue? 
How slowly do the houres theyr numbers spend? 280 

How slowly does sad Time his feathers moue? 
Hast thee O fayrest Planet to thy home 
Within the Wester ne fome: 
Thy tyred steedes long since haue need of rest. 
Long though it be, at last 1 see it gloome. 
And the bright euening star with golden creast 
Appeare out of the East. 
Fayre childe of beauty, glorious lampe of loue 
That all the host of heauen in rankes doost lead, 
And guydest louers through the nights sad dread, 290 

How chearefully thou lookest from aboue. 
And seemst to laugh atweene thy twinkling light 
As ioying in the sight 
Of these glad many which for ioy doe sing, 
That all the woods them answer and their echo ring. 

1 16 Epithalamion 


Now ceasse ye damsels your delights forepast; 
Enough is it, that all the day was youres: 
Now day is doen, and night is nighing fast: 
Now bring the Bryde into the brydall boures. 
Now night is come, now soone her disaray, 300 

And in her bed her lay; 
Lay her in lillies and in violets, 
And silken courteins ouer her display, 
And odourd sheetes, and Arras couerlets. 
Behold how goodly my faire loue does ly 
In proud humility; J 

Like vnto Maia, when as loue her tooke. 
In Tempe, lying on the flowry gras, 
Twixt sleepe and wake, after she weary was. 
With bathing in the Acidalian brooke. 310 

Now it is night, ye damsels may be gon, 
And leaue my loue alone. 
And leaue likewise your former lay to sing: 
The woods no more shal answere, nor your echo ring. 


NOw welcome night, thou night so long expected, 

that long dales labour doest at last defray. 
And all my cares, which cruel loue collected, 
Hast sumd in one, and cancelled for aye: 
Spread thy broad wing ouer my loue and me, 
that no man may vs see, 320 

And in thy sable mantle vs enwrap, 
From feare of perrill and foule horror free. 
Let no false treason seeke vs to entrap. 
Nor any dread disquiet once annoy 
the safety of our ioy: 

But let the night be calme and quietsome, 
Without tempestuous storms or sad afray: 
Lyke as when loue with fayre Alcmena lay. 
When he begot the great Tirynthian groome: 
Or lyke as when he with thy selfe did lie, ' 330 

And begot Maiesty. 

And let the mayds and yongmen cease to sing: 
Nc let the woods them answer, nor theyr eccho ring. 

Epithalamion 1 17 


LEt no lamenting cryes, nor dolefull teares, 

Be heard all night within nor yet without: 
Ne let false whispers breeding hidden feares, 
Breake gentle sleepe with misconceiued dout. 
Let no deluding dreames, nor dreadful sights 
Make sudden sad affrights; 

Ne let housefyres, nor lightnings helpelesse harmes, 340 

Ne let the Pouke, nor other euill sprights, 
Ne let mischiuous witches with theyr charmes, 
Ne let hob Goblins, names whose sence we see not, 
Fray vs with things that be not. 
Let not the shriech Oule, nor the Storke be heard: 
Nor the night Rauen that still deadly yels, 
Nor damned ghosts cald vp with mighty spels, 
Nor griesly vultures make vs once affeard: 
Ne let th'unpleasant Quyre of Frogs still croking 
Make vs to wish theyr choking. 350 

Let none of these theyr drery accents sing; 
Ne let the woods them answer, nor theyr eccho ring. 


BVt let stil Silence trew night watches keepe, 

That sacred peace may in assurance rayne, 
And tymely sleep, when it is tyme to sleepe, 
May poure his limbs forth on your pleasant playne, 
The whiles an hundred little winged loues, 
Like diuers fethered doues. 
Shall fly and flutter round about your bed. 

And in the secret darke, that none reproues, 360 

Their prety stealthes shal worke, and snares shal spread 
To filch away sweet snatches of delight, 
Conceald through couert night. 
Ye sonnes of Venus, play your sports at will. 
For greedy pleasure, carelesse of your toyes. 
Thinks more vpon her paradise of ioyes. 
Then what ye do, albe it good or ill. 
All night therefore attend your merry play, 
For it will soone be day: 

Now none doth hinder you, that say or sing, 370 

Ne will the woods now answer, nor your Eccho ring. 

118 Epithalamion 


WHo is the same, which at my window peepes? 

Or whose is that faire face, that shines so bright? 
Is it not Cinthia, she that neuer sleepes. 
But walkes about high heauen al the night? 
O fayrest goddesse, do thou not enuy 
My loue with me to spy: 

For thou likewise didst loue, thought now vnthought. 
And for a fleece of woll, which priuily. 

The Latmian shephard once vnto thee brought, 380 

His pleasures with thee wrought. 
Therefore to vs be fauorable now; 
And sith of wemens labours thou hast charge, - 
And generation goodly dost enlarge, 
Encline thy will t'effect our wishfull vow. 
And the chast wombe informe with timely seed, 
That may our comfort breed: 
Till which we cease our hopefull hap to sing, 
Ne let the woods vs answere, nor our Eccho ring. 


ANd thou great luno, which with awful might 390 

the lawes of wedlock still dost patronize, 
And the religion of the faith first plight 
With sacred rites hast taught to solemnize: 
and eeke for comfort often called art 
Of women in their smart, 
Eternally bind thou this louely band, 
And all thy blessings vnto vs impart. 
And thou glad Genius, in whose gentle hand, 
The bridale bowre and geniall bed remaine 

Without blemish or staine, 400 

And the sweet pleasures of theyr loues delight 
With secret ayde doest succour and supply. 
Till they bring forth the fruitfuU progeny. 
Send vs the timely fruit of this same night. 
And thou fayre Hebe, and thou Hymen free, 
Grant that it may so be. 

Til which we cease your further prayse to sing, 
Nc any woods shal answer, nor your Eccho ring. 

Epithalamion 1 19 


ANd ye high heauens, the temple of the gods, 

In which a thousand torches flaming bright 410 

Doe burne, that to vs wretched earthly clods, 
In dreadful darknesse lend desired light; 
And all ye powers which in the same remayne. 
More then we men can fayne, 
Poure out your blessing on vs plentiously. 
And happy influence vpon vs raine. 
That we may raise a large posterity, 
Which from the earth, which they may long possesse, 
With lasting happinesse, 

Vp to your haughty pallaces may mount, 420 

And for the guerdon of theyr glorious merit 
May heauenly tabernacles there inherit. 
Of blessed Saints for to increase the count. 
So let vs rest, sweet loue, in hope of this. 
And cease till then our tymely ioyes to sing. 
The woods no more vs answer, nor our eccho ring. 


SOng made in lieu of many ornaments, 

With which my loue should duly haue bene dect. 
Which cutting off through hasty accidents. 

Ye would not stay your dew time to expect, 430 

But promist both to recompens. 
Be vnto her a goodly ornament. 
And for short time an endlesse moniment. 


Imprinted by P. S. for WiU 
liam Ponsonby. 


The abbreviations used in the commentary follow the author and are standard: 
Shakespeare, AYLI: As You Like It; Sidney, AS; Astrophil and Stella. The exception 
is Spenser, where no author is given and only the standard abbreviation for a work 
occurs: FQ: The Faerie Queene; Am; Amoretti; Ana: Anacreontics; Epith: Epithalamion 
SC: The Shepheardes Calender; T^; The Teares of the Muses; RT; The Ruines of Time 
Col: Colin Clouts Come Home Againe; Gn: Virgils Gnat; Pet: The Visions of Petrarch 
Ro: Ruines of Rome; Hub: Mother Huhherds Tale; Van: Visions of the Worlds Vanitie 
HL; An Hymne in Honour of Love; HB: An Hymne in Honour of Beautie; HHL; An 
Hymne of Heavenly Love; HHB: An Hymne of Heavenly Beautie; Proth: Prothalamion; 
Vieui: A View of the Present State of Ireland. The text throughout, apart from Amoretti 
and Epithalamion, is Spenser, Poetical Works, eds. J. C. Smith and E. de Selincourt 
(Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1969). 

The Device. 

The framed device occurs before both Amoretti and Epithalamion. Its motto, "ET 
VSQVE AD NVBES VERITAS TVA," is taken from Ps. 57.11 and replicates Ps. 
36.5, "Et Veritas tua usque ad nubes," which both Coverdale and the Geneva 
version translate as, "ami thy faithfulnes [6 Lord, reacheth] vnto the cloudes." The 
device suggests a scriptural context for the volume. The emblem's bell, the hand 
reaching down from the clouds which upholds the dove, which in turn trails from 
its beak bands from which hang an opened book surrounded by the sun's rays, find 
an exact precedent in Whitney's A Choice of Emblemes, 166, "Veritas invicta"; 
Whitney's device has an identical top half also with a hand reaching through the 
clouds, upholding a dove's wings, which in turn hold a book surrounded by the 
sun's rays, on which is inscribed "Et Vsque Ad Nubes Veritas Tua." His accom- 
panying verses "... the Lorde doth giue such lighte, / That . . . those, that are so 
happie for to looke, / Saluation finde, within that blessed booke," together with the 
dove, scriptures, and the psalm reference, imply scriptural inspiration and the light 
of the Holy Spirit. Peter Short, the master printer, had already used the design in 
Amoretti and Epithalamion in 1592 for Thomas Tymme's, A plaine discoverie of ten 
English lepers, verie noisome to the church and common wealth, [i.e., schismatics, church 
robbers, etc.]. Tliat he has chosen a device whose principal significance was scriptural 
inspiration and truth for Spenser's volume may indicate that he was aware of 
Amoretti's own scriptural inspiration. 

Short's design for the volume, by devoting a separate page to each sonnet and 
to each stanza of Epithalamion, and by decorating each sonnet and stanza above and 
below with an ornamental band, depicts the volume as a record of self-contained yet 

122 Commentary 

consecutive units. Since the volume lacks Spenser's customary preface, Short's 
device, besides reinforcing the volume's authorial anonymity, also creates visual and 
emblematic expectations. 

The Epistle Dedicatory. 

Sir Robart Needham: a cavalry captain of Shropshire who was knighted for 
service in Ireland on 1 September 1594; he departed for England on 25 September 
1594 and resided there until April 1595. Ponsonbys' observation that "This gentle 
Muse lis] . . . no we at length crossing the Seas in your happy companye," suggests 
that the manuscript of Amoretti and Epithalamion may have accompanied him. 
Nothing is known of the relationship between Needham and Spenser or Ponsonby. 

Dedicatory Sonnet I. 

G; W. senior: possibly Geoffrey Whitney Senior. 

Dedicatory Sonnet II. 

1 , Colin: Colin Clout, a Spenser pseudonym. 

2. roundelaies: simple songs, such as the "laies of sweet loue" to which Colin, "The 

Shepheards boy," alludes at the beginning of Colin Clouts come home againe. 

3-4. A reference presumably to The Faerie Queene. 

5-6. A possible reference to the lady of Amoretti and Epithalamion. 

15. G. W. I.: the italics of the I in the 1595 octavo edition suggest the signature is 
a contraction of G. W. lunior, possibly Geoffrey Whitney Junior. Gottfried 544- 
5 established a link between the Spenser circle and that of Geoffrey WTiitney, 
author of A Choice ofEmblemes ("in the catalogue of students at the University 
of Leyden ... he was listed as Godfridus Whitneus, Junior"). Later in 1600 
Whitney bequeathed his best ring to Lady Needham, wife of Sir Robert Need- 
ham, mentioned in The Epistle Dedicatory above. The fact that Whitney's 
emblem "Veritas invicta" has been adapted for Amoretti' s device supports the 
identification of the initials as belonging to him. 


Sonnet 1 

The sonnet corresponds with the beginning of Hilary Term, 23 January 1594. 
Spenser, who sat in the County of Cork as a Justice of the Queen in 1594, would 
have been familiar with the dates of the terms. The poem's threefold division 
reflects the trinitarian treatise for which St. Hilary was famous, while its triple 
Happy reflects his name {Hilaris = happy). Its allusions to the three faculties, soul 
{soules [12]), spirit {spright [7]), and hart (8), observe the standard Neo-Platonic 
distinction between soul, spirit, and body — see Ficino, Commentary on Plato's 
Syrr^osium, 6.6, "three things seem to be in us: the soul, the spirit and the body." 

Gollancz reported a copy of The Faerie Queene (first edition) towards the end of 
which, "on the blank left-hand page facing Spenser's letter to Sir Walter Raleigh," 
another version of Am. 1 had been inscribed, which Gollancz claimed to be 

A sa mistresse 
Happy yc leaues when as those lilly Hands 

That houlds my life in hir deaddoing might 

Commentary 123 

Shall handle yo" and hold in Loues swete bandes 

Like captiues trembling at y^ victors sight. 
Happy ye lines when as w"*^ starry light 

Those lamping eies shall deigne on yo" to looke 

And reade the sorowes of my dieng spright 

written w"^ tears in harts close bleeding book. 
Happy ye rymes bathde in y^ sacred brook 

of Helicon whence shee deriued is 

when as you shall beholde y' angells looke 

my soules longe lacked foode my heauens blisse. 

Leaues, lines & rymes seeke her to please alone 

Whome if yo" please 1 care for others none / . 

Judson ("Amoretti, Sonnet I") compared the version with specimens of Spenser's 
handwriting and concluded that it is not autographical. The variants suggest it is 
more likely to be a slightly misremembered version of the printed Am. 1 . 

1. Happy: See headnote, Hilary. TTie term ran from 23 January until 12 February, 

which in 1594 dovetailed with the beginning of Lent, Wednesday 13 February; 
see The booke of Common prayer, 1578, sig. a iii: "Hillarie Terme beginneth the 
.xxiii. or .xxiv. day of lanuari [sic], and endeth the .xii. or .xiii. day of Februa- 

leaues: 1 . leaves of a book; 2. the suggestion of tree leaves is found again in 
trembling (4); see "the trembling leaues" of the locus amoenus, FQ I.vii.3.3; for 
their association with lilly hands see Shakespeare, TA n.iv.44-45, "lily hands / 
Tremble like aspen leaves." 

lilly hands: 1. white and tender; 2. chaste; heroines in FQ often have inno- 
cent hands, notably Astraea who is lead forth "by the lilly hand" (VII. vii. 37.3- 
9); 3. Spenser also associates lilly hands with the arts of curing and bestowing life 
(see FQ III. iv. 41.1, "the lilly handed Liagore"), an allusion brought out inunedi- 
ately in line 2. 
1-3. hands . . : shall haruile: In direct contradiction to the day's evening prayer Ps. 
115.7, "They haue handes, and handle not." 

2. dead doing: killing, doing to death. 

3. bands: 1. chains, shackles such as hold captiues (4); the motif in various guises, 

traps, webs, bonds, will become a familiar one during the Lenten section of the 
sequence; 2. the cords, which in book-binding cross the back of the book to 
bind the gatherings together; 3. as in Am. 65.5, "Sweet be the bands," an 
engagement or betrothal is also implied. 

6. lamping eyes: clear, beaming, resplendent (possibly from Italian lampante = shin- 
ing as a lamp). Spenser uses the word only once elsewhere; here it corresponds 
with morning prayer Ps. 112.4, "there ariseth vp light in the darkenesse" (Vul- 
gate, Exortum est in tenebris lumen). Lumen, 1. specifically meant a lamp, 2. was 
occasionally used of the stars, and 3. very particularly of the eye and its pupil. 
Spenser has worked all three meanings into starry light, I those lamping eyes. 

8. close: secretly, internally; close was associated with the heart because closet was 
used of the pericardium, see Am. 85.9 note. 

bleeding: 1. suffused with blood; 2. figuratively, full of anguish. The hypal- 
lage — it is the heart not the book that is secretly bleeding — reinforces the 
reading, 'book of the heart's secret bleeding.' 

124 Commentary 

hook: although used also of an unbound sheaf of manuscript poems, bands 
(3) suggests an intended bound volume. 

9. rymes: Spenser, like Shakespeare in his sonnets, generally intends poems (in 

imitation of Petrarch's rime) not rhymes. 

10. Helicon: See the opening to TM 1-5, and SC April 42. Properly Helicon was 
the mountain only, but such earlier authors as Chaucer and Lydgate had already 
identified Helicon as a spring or well. 

11-12. that Angels blessed looke . . . my heauens blis: morning prayer Ps. 110.3, "TTie 
deawe of thy birth is the wombe of the morning," was traditionally considered 
an Old Testament analogue of the virginal conception in the Blessed Virgin, 
announced by an angel. That that Angels blessed looke is intended to echo the 
analogue is confirmed later by the verse's echo in Am. 61.6-7, "of the brood of 
Angels heuenly borne" (see Am. 61.6-7, note). The lady's heavenly origin and 
her being a source of poetic inspiration and knowledge will persist throughout 
the sequence. 

blessed: see morning prayer Ps. 112.1, "Blessed is the man" (Vulgate, 
Beatus vir; blessed was synonymous with happy; e.g., the Bishops' and Geneva 
Bibles give "blessed" at James 1.25, Tyndale and Cranmer, "happy"). 

14. care for other none: 1. pay attention to none other than her; 2. hold only her 
dear (with a spurious etymological pun on cams = dear — see Am. 34.13); 3. 
watch over, look upon only her. But, given that other none could also imply no 
other Leaues, lines, and rymes, then all the above three meanings of the verb 
with these objects also. 

Wednesday 23 January: Morning Prayer: Pss. 110-13, Matt. 21. Evening Prayer: Pss. 114-15, 1 

Cor. 5. 

Sonnet 2 

Tht conceit of poetic childbirth was commonplace from classical times onward. 
Sonnet 2, however, gives the topos a particular twist by identifying the poet's 
conceit and its delivery with the self-delivery by which the young viper gave birth 
to itself by eating its way out of its mother's side. As a consequence the mother 
died. See Bart. Angl. 386^ citing Isidore 12, "that Vipera hath that name, for she 
bringeth forth broode by strength; for when hir wombe draweth to the time of 
whelping, the whelpes abideth not couenable time nor kinde passing, but gnaweth 
and fretteth the sides of their dam, and they come so into this world with strength, 
and with the death of the breeder." TTie conceit of the viper directly corresponds 
to the maledictive epithet, "generacion of viperes," of Matt. 23.33, the gospel 
chapter which Spenser seems to have read for the second lesson at morning prayer 
for TTiursday 24 January. (The day's correct second lesson at morning prayer was 
Matt. 22, with which Am, 2 bears no resemblance. Spenser seemingly read a 
mistaken chapter, Matt. 23, for the day, having been confused by one of the few 
mistakes in the Book of Common Prayer calendar, for the entry which should have 
read Matt. 23 was in frequent editions mistakenly replaced by Matt. 13.) 

1. Vrujuiet thought: anxious thought. In FQ IV. v. 35. 9 Spenser identifies "vnquiet 

thoughts, that carefull minds inuade" as the wedges that Care makes. Cura, 
meant 1. anxious, but also 2. thought, and 3. occasionally a written work (see 
Tacitus, Anrmles, 4.1 1), which obliquely identifies the poet's thought as his poem. 

2. inward . . . hart: Compare evening prayer Ps. 119.11, "Thy words haue 1 hid 

within my heart." 

Commentary 125 

inward bale: the poet's contrasting his inner part with possible outward 
conduct in the presence of the lady, matches Matt. 23.27-28, which contrasts 
the inner corruption and outward conduct of the scribes and pharisees who "ap- 
peare beautiful outwarde, but are within ful . . . of all filthines ... for outwarde 
ye appeare righteous vnto men, but within ye are ful of hypocrisie and iniqui- 

bale: 1. misery; 2. the physical injury or death associated with the viper's 
birth through eating. 

3. sithens: since that time. 

4. u/oxen: waxen; 1. grown; 2. earlier used either as i) to be bom or ii) specifically, 

to be created, e.g., Langland, writing of God, Piers P. (A text), 10.33, "For with 
word that he warp woxen forth beestes." 

6. vipers brood: The Geneva Bible in all parallel passages to Matt. 23.33, "gener- 

acion of viperes," appends the sidenote, "Or Ivipersl broodes" (see Matt. 3.7 & 
12.34, Luke 3.7). Spenser's only use of the phrase (although compare Am. 86, 
whose curses reflect the verse when Matt. 23 was read for Tuesday 14 May). 

7. thougKt . . . bred . . . srruirt: See FQ 111. iv. 6. 1-5, where such thoughts also afflict 

Britomart in a passage employing a like metaphor. 

8. sustayne thy self with food: Tlie viper, when hibernating, was thought able to 

sustain itself with food, Bart. Angl. explaining that the viper "sustaineth and 
may beare hunger long time." 

10. fall . . . at her feet: Similar to morning prayer Ps. 1 16.8, "my feete from falling." 
10-11. fall lowly .../... meeke humblesse: Reflects precisely the paradoxical judge- 
ment of Matt. 23.12, "whosoeuer wil exalt him self, shalbe broght low: and 
whosoeuer wil humble him self, shalbe exalted." 

11. afflicted mood: Matches the particulars of morning prayer Ps. 116.10 (Bishops' 
Bible Version), "1 was greatly afflicted." 1. dejected state of mind; 2. the phrase 
also contains a Spenserian pun: mood (from modus, a rendering of the Greek 
Tp67to<; = syllogism) also means argument; since afflicted is used by Spenser also 
to mean humble, the phrase carries the allied meaning of 'humble argument.' 
Spenser plays with the same pun in the Proem to FQ 1, "The argument of mine 
afflicted stile" (4.8), where afflicted intends both humble and also that which his 
thrown-down ("afflicted" = ad + fligere \flictus] = thrown down) pen ("stile" = 
stilus = pen) had previously put to paper. Here, at the beginning of the se- 
quence, the 'humble argument' presents itself to his betrothed. 

13-14. liue . . . I . . . die soone . . . perish: Compare the detail of Matt. 23.24, "them 
ye shal kil and crucifie" and evening prayer Ps. 118.17, "1 will not die, but 

Thursday 24 January: Morning Prayer: Pss. 116-18, Matt. 22/23; Evening Prayer: Ps 119.1-32, 1 

Cor. 6. 

Sonnet 3 

Sonnet 3's motif of light, of Neo-Platonic cast and heavenly origin, matches the 
principal feature of the conversion of St. Paul, the feast celebrated on Friday 25 
January, the heavenly light which struck him down on the road to Damascus. For 
the feast all three conversion accounts were read. Acts 9.1-23 (Epistle), Acts 22.1- 
21 (special second lesson at morning prayer) and Acts 26 (special second lesson at 
evening prayer). 
1. souerayne beauty: See HHB 295-97, which celebrate the "soueraine light, / From 

126 Commentary 

whose pure beams al perfect beauty springs, / That kindleth loue in euery godly 

admyre: the sense of wonder {ad + miror = wonder) is continued through 
the dispersed polyptoton, wondrous (8), wonderment (12), woruier (14). 

2. witnesse the world: directly imitating the purpose of Paul's conversion, "For thou 

shalt be his witnes vnto all men of the things, which thou hast sene and heard" 
(Acts 22.15), and "to appoint thee a minster and a witnesse" (Acts 26.16; see 
also 26.18 & 22). A second extended polyptoton, witnesse, wit (14). 

3. light . . . heauenly fyre: a feature of all three accounts of Paul's conversion, "sud- 

denly there shone from heauen a great light rounde about me" (Acts 22.6), and 
"light from heauen" (Acts 9.3 & Acts 26.13). 

kindled: 1. lit; 2. given birth to. TTie pun is repeated in Am. 6.6, 7.12 & 

5. being now: in contrast to looking still (7). 

huge: Paul identifies the light as "a great (Vulgate, copiosa = huge) light 
rounde about me" (Acts 22.6). 

brightnesse: Likewise the light's surpassing brightness so dazzled Paul, that 
he could see nothing, "I sawe in the way a light from heauen, passing the 
brightnes of the sunne" (Acts 26.13). 

6. can no more endure to view: The light affects Paul and the poet identically: as the 

poet, because of the brightness of the heavenly light, is blind to earthly things, 
so also Paul "colde not se for the glorie of that light" (Acts 22.11). Such 
purifying, so better to contemplate the lady's spiritual beauty, is a standard Neo- 
Platonic (and Petrarchist) assertion. 

endure: See evening prayer Ps. 1 19.89, "O Lorde, thy woorde: endureth for 
euer in heauen"; Am. 33.10, "to endure so taedious toyle," and Am. 63.2, 
"Which hardly 1 endured heretofore," match the verse when it was read again 
on 24 February and 24 March. 

7. boking still: 1. continuing to look on her; 2. looking on her silently (see toung . . . 

stopped [9-10]); 3. the sense of looking on her secretly is also implied. 

I starui amazed: Compare the day's Epistle, Acts 9.7, "The men . . . stode 
amased"; see also Acts 9.21, "amased." 

amazed: 1. bewildered, dazed; 2. a synonym for infatuated, see Am. 7.1 

8. celestiall hew: 1. heavenly form or shape, used by Spenser frequently as a Neo- 

Platonic indicator - see Am. 7.5; 21.10; 45.7; 53.6; 79.6; 80.11; 2. heavenly 
complexion or even color; 3. heavenly vision — directly imitating Paul's "heau- 
enlie vision" (Acts 26.19; Vulgate, visioni caelesti = celestiall hew). 

9-12. The four lines are a compar or isocolon (a rhetorical construction when the 
number of syllables "bee almoste of a iuste number . . . but yet the equalitye of 
the partes of members, must not be measured vppon our Fyngers, but be tryed 
by a secreate sence of the eare"; see Rix 32). The comparison is evident be- 
tween toung, speak, stopped and thoughts astonishment, and pen, write, rauisht and 
fancies worxderment. 

9-14. So when my toung would speak . . . I and when my pen. would write . . . I Yet in 
my hart .../... eruUte: The final sestet reflects the vocabulary and structure of 
Ps. 45.1-2, an epithalamial psalm; "My heart is inditing of a good matter: 1 
speake of the things which I haue made vnto the king. My tongue is the penne: 
of a ready writer." 

Commentary 127 

10. stopped: 1. obstructed, bottled up; 2. of the voice, hoarse or choked up; see Am. 
8.9, "you stop my toung." 

astonishment: Compare Acts 9.6, where the "light from heauen" causes 
Paul to stand "astonied." 

11. write her titles true: both 1. write 'her titles truly'; and 2. write 'her true titles.* 

titles: 1. descriptive headings or features; 2. the right accorded a souerayne 

12. fancies: 1. Neo-PIatonically, the faculty, distinguished from the imagination, 
which forms mental representations of things not present to the senses; 2. 
occasionally a deluded or delusive imagination — in contrast to the titles true 
(1 1); 3. as a contraction of fantasy, the allusion to an apparition or vision (see 
line 8 note, hew) cannot be discounted. 

13. hart . . . write: See Sidney, AS 1.14. 

hart: Johnson, " 'Sacred Rites,' " 380 argues for a homonym between heart 
and hart = art. 

14. wit: Reflects Paul's resolution to continue "witnessing bothe to small and to 
great . . . to wit that Christ . . . shulde shew light vnto the people" (Acts 26.22- 

endite: 1 . (from indictus = in + dicere = speak) put into words (in contrast 
to the poet's attempts to speak [9]), especially give a literary form to words; 2. 
even more specifically, write words down with a pen (in contrast to his attempts 
to write [13]); the poet's difficulty, in both senses, corresponds to that of the Red 
Cross Knight, "O soueraigne Queene, whose prayse 1 would endite" {FQ 
lll.ii.3.4); 3. since indictus alternatively carried the meaning of unsaid or even 
ineffable, Spenser may also have intended an echo of the word's paradoxical 
etymology as a continuance of toung . . . stopped (9-10). 

Friday 25 January, Conversion of St. Paul: Epistle: Acts 9.1-23. Gospel: Matt. 19.27-30. 

Morning Prayer: Ps. 119.33-72, Acts 22.1-21. Evening Prayer: Ps. 119.73-104, Acts 26. 

Sonnet 4 

The approach of the new year and/or spring is a popular occasional topic of the 
Petrarchist and Spenser celebrates the coming of the new in a similar vein four 
times in the sequence (Am. 19, 60, 62, 70). 

1 . hiew Yeare: For Spenser's use of January as the beginning of the year, see Intro- 
duction, 4-5. 

lanus gate: a conventional etymological pleonasm; Janus {janua = gate), 
besides presiding over the begiruiing of things, was represented with a face on 
the front and the back of the head and, with the motto "Respice et Prospice," 
was considered to look both backwards and forwards. (See >X^itney 108.) The 
two-directional becomes the basis of the sonnet's argument. Line 1 apparently 
celebrates the month of January as the beginning of the year rather than the 
beginning of January as the start of the year. See also Du Bellay, "EXi Premier 
Jour De L'An," (Vers Lyriques, 6.26), 
Voicy le Pere au double front, 
Le bon Janus, qui renouvelle 
Le cours de I'an, qui en un rond 
Ameine la saison nouvelle. 
Renouvelons aussi 

128 Commentary 

Toute vieille pensee, 

Et tuons le soucy 

De fortune insensee. 
Spenser is also playing with the adage, "January marrying May," used to 
describe an older man marrying a young woman (OED, May sb^ 1 d, which cites 
Chaucer, Merch. T. 448, and Thomas Howell, Devises [1581], l.ii, "In fayth 
doth frozen lanus double face, / Such favour finde, to match with pleasant 
Maye"). The adage corresponds with the Pauline injunction about age and 
marriage in 1 Cor. 7, the second lesson at evening prayer for Saturday 26 
January (see line 13 note). 

3. his passed date: if his (its) refers back to New yeare (1), then a temporal referent 

looking back to 1 January. 

4. all old thoughts: See Du Bellay, "Toute vieille pensee." 

dumpish: 1. sad, melancholic; 2. spiritless; dumpish spright is effectively a 
6. fresh hue: identified in line 8 as Cupid. 

8. wanton: 1. naughty, cruel, pampered, particularly of children (and hence allusive- 

ly of Cupid); 2. amorous, lascivious. 

darts: Cupid and his arrows are everywhere present among the amoretti: 
e.g.. Am. 8.5-6, 16.4-8, 17.9, 24.7, 39.1-4, 57.8. 

9. For lusty spring now in his tirr\ely howre: Compare FQ IV.X.45.4, the Temple of 

Venus, where "TTxe spring breake forth out of his lusty bowres." 

lusty: vigorous, youthful. 

timely: 1. temporal or seasonal; 2. opportune; a favorite late word employed 
variously in Epith. (355, 386, 404, 425). Paul intimates a similar urgency in 1 
Cor. 7.29, "because the time is short." 

12. rrmntle: Venus' instrument of cheer in the Temple of Venus {FQ lV.x.44.7). 1. 
A conventional metaphor for the covering of the earth; 2. used symbolically 
when a widow or widower took a vow of chastity (OED sb Id; 1 Cor. 7 contains 
advice for widows). Because Elizabeth was not a widow, the symbolism rebounds 
onto Spenser the widower, implying, albeit obliquely, a chaste resolve on his 

13. faire flowre, in whome fresh youth doth raine: Compare 1 Cor. 7.36, containing 
Paul's admonitions about marriage and virginity: "if anie man thinke that is is 
vncomlie for his virgine, if she passe the flowre of her age, and nede so require, 
let him do what he wil, he sinneth not: let them be maried." Given the 
difference in age between Spenser and Elizabeth Boyle, the appellation faire 
flowre is particularly apposite and intimate. It was, of course, Spenser who was 
the elderly one and past the flower of his age (flos aetatis = youth). Elizabeth 
Boyle, as the younger faire flowre, was not affected by the strictures of the 
Pauline injunction. 

14. entertaine: {inter = between + tenere = hold); 1. engage, accept; 2. the mutuality 
of betrothal and the period of preparation before marriage is also implied. 
Spenser later uses the word of marriage in the orational sonnet for Easter 
Sunday, "with loue may one another entertayne" (Am. 68.12). He thus covertly 
observes Paul's admonition, "let them be maried." 

Saturday 26 January: hAoming Prayer: Ps. 119.105-44, Matt. 23. Evenit\g Prayer: Ps. 119.145-76, 
1 Cor. 7. 

Commentary 129 

Sonnet 5 

1 . Rvdely thou wrongest: The sonnet's accusations of wrong judgement correspond to 

the conclusions of the coincidentally successive readings, 1 Cor. 8 and 9 (vv. 
24-27), respectively the second lesson at evening prayer and the Epistle for 
Septuagesima Sunday 27 January, the first of the Sundays leading to Lent. Each 
ends with Paul attempting to avoid giving scandal and being wrongly judged, 
"that I may not offend my brother" (8.13), and "lest ... I my self shulde be 
reproued" (9.27). As well, morning prayer Ps. 120.2, "Deliuer my soule, O 
Lorde, from lying lippes: and from a deceitfuU tongue," is a celebrated prayer 
against slander. The phrase is the first of 9 alliterations or semi-alliterations 
which punctuate the sonnet. 

Rvdely: 1. ignorantly; 2. offensively or roughly. 

thou: evidently an outsider to the sequence (if not read as part of the poet 
himself), and matched only by Am. 86 's condemnation of the slanderer. Other- 
wise Spenser only uses thou I thee within the parameters of the sequence. 

2. portly: dignified. The sonnet's argument divides it uniformly between pride and 


4. enuide: Compare the day's Gospel, Matt. 20.15, Geneva version sidenote, "Or 


5. lofty lookes: In exact correspondence with evening prayer Ps. 131.1, "Lorde, 1 am 

not high minded: I haue no proude lookes" (Geneva Bible "nether are mine 
eies loftie"). 

close: secretly, hiddenly. 

implide: 1. physically enfolded (in + plicare = in + folded) - Spenser uses the 
word of the coils of a snake {FQ l.iv.31.5); 2. contained, exists {FQ V.vii.12.8). 

6. scorn of base things: The phrase (Fuge Turpia) was proverbial, see Am. 13.9-10 & 

61.11-12. The poet's complaints about pride and scorn are the focus also of 
morning prayer Ps. 123.3-4, "we are vtterly despised. Our soule is filled with 
the scomefull reproofe of the wealthy and with the despitefulnes (Vulgate, 
despectio = the looking down upon) of the proude." 

sdeigne: disdain; etymologically {dis + dignus = un + worthy) it compounds 
the vnworthy motif of the sonnet: world vnworthy (4) and neuer in this world ought 
worthy (13). 

7. rash eies . . . loosely . . . looke: Such eyes resemble the question concluding the 

day's Gospel parable. Matt. 20.1-15, "Is thine eye euil." See also the morning 
prayer Ps. 121.1, "1 will lift vp mine eyes vnto the hilles," and Ps. 123.1, "Vnto 
thee lift 1 vp mine eyes." The "hungry eyes" of Am. 35 correspond with the 
same verses when they were read on Tuesday 26 February. 

9. portlinesse: (from port = a carrying, gait) dignified, applied generally to manner of 

walking and echoing Ps. 131.2 (Geneva version), "nether haue 1 walked in great 

10. boldned: See 1 Cor. 8.10, "boldened," a distinctive verbal parallel; it is the only 
occasion when the Geneva Bible uses the word and its only usage in Amoretti. 

11. countenance: disyllabic by syncopation. 

13. tride: 1. attempted; 2. proven; 3. purified (as metal is purified by fire), an allusion 
picked up in spark (14). 

14. spark: 1. the spark of fire that refines; 2. a small something. 

130 Commentary 

self-pleasing pride: Spenser only uses the adjective reprehensibly, see Crud- 
or's "selfe pleasing mynd" {FQ VI.i.15.1-2). 
Septuagesima Sunday 27 January: Epistle: 1 Cor. 9.24-27. Gospel: Matt. 20.1-17. Morning 
Prayer: Pss. 120-25, Matt. 24. Evening Prayer: Pss. 126-31, 1 Cor. 8. 

Sonnet 6 

Sonnets 5 and 6 constitute a pair of sonnets linked by a common theme and bridged 
by the one's concluding "self-pleasing pride" and the other's opening rebellious pride. 
The purifying function of Sonnet 5's "ought worthy tride, / without some spark" 
becomes also one of Sonnet 6's motifs. By coincidence in 1594 the second lesson at 
evening prayer for Monday 28 January, 1 Cor. 9, was also read as the prior day's 
Epistle, 1 Cor. 9.24-27. 
1. nought: TTie sonnet is the most labyrinthical of the sequence, particularly in its 

virtuoso upholding of the long traductio, nought . . . not . . . not . . . naught . . . not 

. . . knot. (See Johnson, "Amoretti 6," 38 and "Punning," 384, and A. Fowler, 

Conceitful Thought, 89-91.) 

nought disrruiyd: the beginning of a fescennine subtext to the sonnet, nought 

bawdily implying the vagina (see Shakespeare, Sonnet 136.11-12 and Rich. Ill 

l.i.99-100), and dismayd obliquely suggesting un-maided, a pun used earlier of 

the "Maide," Britomart (FQ V.vii.16.9). 
3-4. The contrast of the carnal, lusts of baser kynd, with spiritual love, that the 

harder wonne, the firmer mil abide, observes the distinction made in 1 Cor. 9.11, 

"If we haue sowen vnto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reape your 

carnal things?" 

kynd: 1. nature; 2. birth; the word's etymological verb form in Old English 

is reflected in the secondary sense of kindling (6), to give birth to. 

4. ivonne: 1. achieve; 2. homonymically, undivided (compare diuide (7) and entire 

(11]). Compare the dominant image of 1 Cor. 9, Paul seeking to "winne the 
mo." In contrast to the poem's harder and firmer, Paul will become weak to win: 
"To the weake I become as weake, that I may winne the weake" (v. 22). 

abide: 1. remain — taken up in erxdure (10); 2. by association, bide its time 
— developed in thinke not long (13); and 3. suffer — alluded to in talcing little paine 

5. durefull Oake: A forced pleonasm: durefull is identified with Oake through an 

etymological homonym, Spenser associating the durus (= hard) of durefull with 
5oup6(;, genetive of bpvc, = oak. The two are earlier identified in the name of 
Druon, who, in contrast to the sonnet's invoked mutuality, is opposed to love 
because enamored of a single life (See FQ IV. ix. 2 1.1 -2). Here by contrast the 
poet, the oak, will espouse a married life. Ovid, Met. 13.799-800, likewise 
describes the oak (and the willow), "durior (= harder) annosa quercu . . . lentior 
(= firmer) et salicis virgis" (Golding, 13.874-75, "more hard than warryed Oke 
too twyne, / More tough than willow twiggs"). If Ovid was in Spenser's mind, 
his memory may have been prompted by the day's associative evening prayer Ps. 
1 37.2, "As for our harpes wee hanged them vp: vpon the trees (Vulgate, salicibus 
= willows, Geneva version, willowes) that are therein." 

6. kindling fyre: 1. fire bursting into flame; 2. figuratively, inflaming passion; 3. fyre 

(or passion) that gives birth to something, as in kyrui (3) and kindle (9), a word 
play reinforced by conceiue. Lines 5-6 continue the series of double entrendres 
beginning with harder and firmer (4); sap, hr^, conceiue, and the pun on kindling 

Commentary 131 

can all be construed to give Oake a suggestively potent meaning, which becomes 
a covert metaphor for the fecundity that the future marriage will bring. The oak 
is associated with lust in the description of the wodwo in FQ lV.vii.7.4. 
6-7. fyre: I but when it once doth bume: See the first lesson at evening prayer (a 
lesson for which Spenser seldom finds a correspondence), Exod. 3.2, "Then the 
Angel of the Lord appeared vnto him in a flame of fyre, out of the middes of a 
bushe: and he loked, and beholde, the bushe burned with fyre, and the bushe 
was not consumed." 

7. diuide: 1. split apart; 2. share; 3. spread about. 

8. aspire: 1. through its association with 'spire,' mount up as fire or smoke (see Am. 

55. 11 note); 2. the sense of 'expire' is captured later in naught but death can seuer 

10. gentle: 1. noble, opposed to those of baser (3) birth; 2. generous or courteous; 3. 
soft, not rough or hard; 4. when applied to trees, a domestic variety — in 
contrast to the oak (OED 4a). 

shall endure for euer: the puns and running word-play on endure and durefull 
(5; and harder (41) imitate exactly the unique running refrain to evening prayer 
Ps. 136, "for his mercie endureth for euer," which is repeated in each of its 
twenty-seven verses. The half-verse is mirrored explicitly here. 

11. dints: strikes, affects. 

entire: 1. primarily the interior or inward parts; 2. intact, undivided (see 
Am. 84.9). 
13-14. paine . . . euer shaU remaine: Compare the day's second lesson at morning 

prayer, Matt. 25.46, "And these shal go into euerlasting paine." 
14. to knit the knot: A commonplace image for the poet's forthcoming marriage, used 
also for the marriage of the Red Cross Knight and Una {FQ I.xii.37.1-4). The 
sonnet bears some resemblance to the account: 
His owne two hands the holy knots did knit, 
That none but death for euer can deuide. 
His owne two hands, for such a tume most fit. 
The housling fire did kindle and prouide. 
Knot: 1. recalls the earlier oak; 2. carries the undertone of a 'virgin knot' 
or maidenhead (see Shakespeare, Per lV.ii.l50 and Temp lV.i.l5). 
Monday 28 January: Momtng Prayer: Pss. 132-35, Exod. 2, Matt. 25. Evming Prayer: Pss. 136- 
38. Exod. 3. 1 Cor. 9. 

Sonnet 7 

The eyes of their ladies were of frequent concern to sonneteers; this is the first of 
many occasions among the anxoretti (see Am. 12, 16, 21, 24-26, 37, 43, 47, 49, 57, 
61, and 81). TTie sonnet conceals within it an implied metaphor of the basilisk, the 
fabulous creature from whose eyes death darts forth (see Am. 49). 

1. Fayre eyes: See Am. 49.1, "Fayre cruell." 

mazed: 1. bewildered, dazed; 2. synonymically, infatuated, see Am. 35.7; 3. 
confused, interwoven like a maze — see Epith. 190, "Medusaes mazeful hed," 
recalling the serpents coiled in a maze about Medusa's head, the sight of which 
brought death. 

2. vertue: power, strength. 

3. lyfe and death forth from you dart: Spenser elsewhere likens death-issuing eyes to 

those of the basilisk, e.g., Corflambo's eyes: "Like as the Basiliske of serpents 

132 Commentary 

seede, / From powrefuU eyes close venim doth conuay / Into the lookers hart, 
and killeth farre away" {FQ IV.viii.39.7-9). The conceit here corresponds to 
Tuesday 29 January's morning prayer Ps. 140.3: "They haue sharpened their 
tongues like a serpent: Adders poyson is vnder their lips." Just as Spenser has 
drawn upon the parallell references to serpent's poison in Ps. 58.3 (and the 
basilisk in Ps. 91.13) for the conceit of the cockatrice in Am. 49.10, so he has 
chosen to construe the present verse as a reference to the basilisk. (The image 
of the serpent also occurs in the day's first lesson at morning prayer, Exod. 4.2- 
3, where Moses' rod "was turned into a serpent.") 
5-8. An example of the rhetorical device, compar or isocolon. 

5. hew: 1. appearance; 2. complexion, color (in contrast to lowre 17]). 

6. inspired: inspired, fyred, and desyred recall Sonnet 6's rhymes, "aspire," "fyre," and 


7. askew: not directly, sideways; see the gloss to SC March, "Ascaunce) askew or 

asquint." It generally suggests disdain, e.g., FQ VI.vii.42.3. 

10. louely: 1. loving; 2. lovingly — Spenser nearly always uses the word to mean 

11. bright beams: See FQ lV.viii.39.1 where Corflambo's eyes (see line 3 note) are 
described as "two fierie beames," and FQ ll.iii.23.3 where from Belphoebe's 
eyes "darted fyrie beames" (FQ ll.iii.23.3). 

12. kindle lining fire: TTie second of three successive sonnets to use the punning 
phrase, see Am. 6.6 & 8.1. 

14. ensample: See the day's second lesson at evening prayer, 1 Cor. 10, in which 
Paul lists a series of occasions, given as "ensamples," when God was dishonored, 
"Now these are ensamples to vs" (v. 6). These include being killed by serpents: 
"some of them . . . were destroyed of serpents. . . . Now all these things came 
vnto them for ensamples" (vv. 10-11). The archaic "ensample" was infrequent- 
ly used in the Geneva Bible. 

Tuesday 29 January: Moming Prayer: Pss. 139-41, Exod. 4, Matt. 26; Evening Prayer: Pss. 142- 

43, Exod. 5, 1 Cor. 10. 

Sonnet 8 

Sonnet 8 differs from all other sonnets in the sequence because of its Surreyan form 
and secondly because it exists in other manuscript versions, see L. Cummings 125- 
35 who conducted a detailed examination and comparison of the manuscripts' 
minor textual variants, from which he constructs "an hypothesis of serial change." 
He concluded on historical evidence that the versions probably date from a period 
prior to the sonnet's published form and that "the dating of the first version of 
Amoretti viii would be before fall 1580," the poem in its manuscript forms bearing 
a strong resemblance in its opening three lines to the opening three of Fulke 
Greville's Caelica 3, which apparently dates from around that year: 

More than most faire, full of that heauenly fire. 

Kindled aboue to shew the makers glory, 

Beauties first-bom, in whom all powers conspire. 
The sonnet's differing Surreyan form and its other recensions tend to confirm 
that Spenser wrote the original version in friendly rivalry with Fulke Greville, and 
probably with Sidney. He has accepted the sonnet, although in another revised 
form, M the sonnet for Wednesday 30th January. 


Commentary 133 

The manuscript versions are found in Bodleian, MS. Rawlinson Poetry 85 (f. 7^, 
Cambridge University Library, MS. Dd 5.75 (f. 37^, British Library, MS. Sloane 
1446 (f. 43) and British Library, MS. Harley 7392 (f. 28), which contains the first 
four lines of the sonnet only: 
Bodleian, MS. Rmvlinson Poetry 85 (f. 7"^: 

O more than moste fayre full of the liuinge fyre, 

Kindled aboue the hyghe creator neere 

No eyes but ioyes w'*' whome the fates conspyre 

TTiat to the worlde noughte else be counted deere 

Throughe theire cleere beames dothe not the blinded guest 

Shote forthe his darte to blase affectinge woundes 

But aungells com to leade fraylle myndes to reste. 

In chaste desyres ohe heauenlye bewtye bownde 

The mor my thoughtes you fashione me w'^^in 

You staye my songe yet force myne harte to speake 

You calme the storme that passione did beginn. 

Stronge throughe your looks but by your vertwe weak 

Loue is not knowne wher your lyghte shined neuer 

TTirise happy he that may behoulde you euer. 
Cambridge University Library, MS. Dd 5.75 (f. 37^): 

More fayr then most fair full of the lyuing fyre 

kyndled aboue the highe creatour neer 

not eyes but ioyes w whom all powers (thoughts deleted) conspire 

that to the world nought els be counted deer 

TTiroughe your deer beames doth not the blinded guest 

Shoote forth his darts to bare affections wound 

but angels com to lead frail mynds to rest 

in chast desires on heauenly bewtye bound. 

You rule my thoughts you fashion me w''^in 

you stay my tongue & moue my hart to speake 

you calme the stormes y' passion dothe begin 

strong throughe your looke but through your bewties weake 

Loue is not knowen wher your loue shineth neuer 

blessed are they w*^*^ may behold you euer. . 
British Library, MS. Sloane 1446 (f. 43): 

More then most faire full of that liueinge fire 

Kindled aboue the highe Creato"' neere 

no eyes but ioyes, w'^ whome all powers Conspire (y deleted after no) 

that in this world may else bee counted deare 

Throughe yo"' cleere beames doth not the blinded guest 

shoote out his darts to base affections wound 

But Angells come to leade fraile mindes to rest 

in chast desires on heauenlie beauties bounde 

Yo" hold my thoughtes yo" fashion mee w''^in 

Yo" tie my tongue and force my hart to speake 

Yo" calme the stormes when passions doe begin 

Strong throughe yo"' power but through yo"' vertue weake 

Loue is not knowne where yo"' light shineth eu" 

well is hee borne that may behold yo" eu". 

134 Commentary 

British Ubrary, MS. Harley 7392 (f. 28): 

More then most faire full of the liuing fyre, 
Kindled aboue vnto the maker neere, 
Not Eies, but loies, wherw^*^ y^ heuuens conspire, 
That to y^ would not els be counted deere 
1-14. Heavenly birth, with its Neo-Platonic associations, occurs explicitly at least 
35 times in Spenser's total corpus. A similar description of womanly eyes is 
found in the blason of Belphoebe, FQ II.iii.23: 
In her faire eyes two liuing lamps did flame, 

Kindled aboue at th' heauenly makers light. 
And darted fyrie beames out of the same, 
So passing persant, and so wondrous bright, 
TTiat quite bereau'd the rash beholders sight: 
In them the blinded god his lustfuU fire 
To kindle oft assayd, but had no might; 
For with dredd Maiestie, and awfull ire, 
She broke his wanton darts, and quenched base desire. 
Sonnet 8 embodies the standard Neo-Platonic divisions between heavenly, 
human, and bestial love {base affections [6]), as well as its doctrines that love 
aspires after beauty {on heauenly beauty bound [8]) and that virtue overwhelms 
passion {by your vertue weak [12]). (See Quitsland 256-76 for an extended study 
of the Platonic and Petrarchan influences on Am. 8.) Spenser incorporates the 
divisions and doctrines in the address which begins FQ Ill.iii.l, whose detail 
Am. 8 resembles: 

Most sacred fire, that bumest mightily 
In liuing brests, ykindled first aboue, 
Emongst th'etemall spheres and lamping sky, 
And thence pourd into men, which men call Loue; 
Not that same, which doth base affections moue 
In brutish minds, and filthy lust inflame. 
But that sweet fit, that doth true beautie loue, 
And choseth vertue for his dearest Dame 

2. kindled aboue: 1. having taken fire from above; 2. having been given birth to from 

above. (For the final of three uses of kindled, see Am. 6.6 &. 7.12) TTie reasons 
for Spenser's choosing the sonnet and inserting it into the sequence for 30 
January lie with the corresponding day's scripture readings. The opening of its 
earlier versions, where the lady's fairness is cast in terms of a divine birth, 
"Kindled aboue vnto the maker (highe creatour) neere" (Cambridge and Harley 
MSS.), corresponds to the principal theme of heavenly birth found in the day's 
second lesson at evening prayer, 1 ODr. 11.9 & 12, where Paul extols man as 
"the image and glorie of God," claiming that all things are bom of God: "the 
man was not created for the womans sake: but the woman for the mans sake . . 
as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman: but all things are 
of God." 

3. powers: 1. an allusion to the powers which are identified with the classical virtus 

of the gods; 2. Neo-Platonically the powers or Angels (7) which exist beyond 
human sight, inhabiting the highest sphere and governing human destinies, the 
sixth order of Angels being Powers - see HHB 50-105 & Epith. 413 note. 

Commentary 135 

5-6. The eyes as Cupid's arrows are a frequent image in Amoretti (see Am. 4.8; 

12.1-8; 16.4-8; 17.9; 24.7; 39.1-4; 57.8) and a Petrarchan commonplace, e.g., 

Petrarch, Rime, 151.5-9. TTie convention generally drew on Ovid, Ars Am. 

2.708, "In quibus occulte spicula figit Amor." A coincidence of phrase occurs 

between the earlier versions' "shoote out his darts," and the day's morning 

prayer Ps. 144.6, "shoote out thine arrowes." 
5. bright: A substantive authorial change for publication which brings it into line 

with the above description of Belphoebe; the other changes are: You frame my 

thoughts (9); stop (10); Dark is the world (13). 
blinded guest: Cupid. 

7. Angels come to lead fraile mindes to rest: A detail of the manuscript version which 

finds a match in the account of Christ's passion and death, read in the day's 
second lesson at morning prayer. Matt. 27 (in Luke's parallel account, 22.43), 
"there appeared an Angel vnto him from heauen, comforting him," as well as 
Paul's instructions about womanly beauty, "TTierefore oght the woman to haue 
power on her head, because of the Angels" (1 Cor. 11.10; men will then be able 
to avoid lusts that might arise in them [v. 16]). Although there is a difference of 
locus between women's hair and the lady's eyes, the Pauline "power" and 
"Angels" also recall the manuscript versions of the sonnet, "in who me all 
powers Conspire" (Cambridge and Sloane MSS. and also Greville). The sonnet, 
as does Paul, sees a connection between angels and the triumphing over base 
affections wounds. 

8. bourxd: 1. destined, prepared for; 2. bound also carries the transferred association 

of pregnant (OED lb). 

9. You frame my thoughts and fashion me within: an alternative revision for publi- 

cation, strengthening the poem's childbirth imagery (lacking in the MSS. 

frame: 1. direct; 2. give shape to. 

fashion: mould, give shape to. The line carries a strong suggestion of a fetal 
shaping, because both terms, fashion and frame, were used specifically of the 
foetus — e.g.. La Primaudaye 2.393, "Of the fashion of a childe in the wombe, and 
how the merrJjers are framed. 

10. you stop my toung: put a gag or block on; see Am. 3.9-10. 

13. Dark is the world: A final example of Spenser's modifying the manuscript 
versions to accord with the day's readings. The manuscript variants show that 
the sonnet's final couplet had always been problematic. Spenser has solved its 
unsatisfactory nature by echoing Matt. 27.45, where on the death of Christ 
"there (was) darkenes ouer all the land." 

14. well is he borne: 1. bom; 2. carried, taking up the thought of Angels covne to lead 

Wednesday 30 January: Morning Prayer: Pss. 144-46, Matt. 27. Everxing Prayer: Pss. 147-50, 1 
Cor. 11. 

Sonnet 9 

The first of three occasions, the others being Am. 26 and 55, when Spenser uses a 
rhetorical expeditio, a recognized sonneteer's device, where a list of juxtaposed 
contrasts which are consecutively excluded until the series of proposals is exhausted. 
Its shape mirrors Paul's argument in the second lesson at evening prayer for Tliurs- 
day 31 January, 1 Cor. 12. The elements of the expeditio correspond to elements of 

136 Commentary 

the clay's psalms, particularly Ps. 148, "O Praise the Lorde of heauen." (The 

calendar of the Book of Common Prayer sometimes erroneously prescribed for 3 1 

January a repetition of the psalms for Day 30 [Pss. 144-46, 147-50] and apparently 

Spenser followed a mistaken calendar.) 

3-4. yet find I nought on earth to which I dare I resemble: In direct contrast to the 
judgement of morning prayer Ps. 144.4, "Man is like a thing of nought." 

resemble: {re + similis = like) liken to another, as in the Vulgate Ps. 144.4, 
Homo vanitati similis factus est. 

4-12. Compare the expeditio with the argument of 1 Cor. 12.16-17 &21, in which 
Paul juxtaposes a series of paradoxes: "if the eare wolde say, Because I am not 
the eye, 1 am not of the bodie, is it therefore not of the bodie? If the whole 
bodie were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where 
were the smelling? . . . And the eye can not say vnto the hand, I haue no nede 
of thee: nor the head againe to the fete, I haue no nede of you." 

5-7. Not to the Sun . . . / nor to the Moone . . . / nor to the Starres: Corresponding 
exactly with the detail provided by evening prayer Ps. 148.3, "Prayse him 
Sunne and Moone: prayse him all ye starres." 

8. fire: Corresponding to the further detail of Ps. 148.8, "Fire and haile." 

9. lightning: See the feature of morning prayer Ps. 144.6, "Cast foorth thy lightning, 

and teare them." TTie day's second lesson at morning prayer. Matt. 28.3, 
describes the angel at the tomb whose "countenance was like lightning." 

still: 1. continue to; 2. unmovingly. 

perseuer: remain, not passing in a flash. 
8 & 1 1. consume . . . seuer: See Ps. 144.6, "teare them . . . consume them." 

11. Christall: 1. ice; see evening prayer Ps. 147.17. "He casteth foorth his yce like 
morsels," (Vulgate, Mittit crystallum suum sicut buccellas; crystal was used in 
earlier translations of the verse, e.g., Richard Rolle of Hampole's 1340 version, 
"He sendis his kristall as morcels"); 2. secondarily, rock-crystal or precious 
stone, associated with the Diamond (10); 3. crystal-glass, an association devel- 
oped in glasse (12). 

12. glasse: there is a possible homophonic play on Vulgate Ps. 148.8, glades = 1. ice; 
2. in a transferred sense, hardness. 

mought: might. 

13. Then to the Maker selfe they likest be: The expeditio' s conclusion coincides with 
Paul's conclusion that, despite diverse gifts, there is but one maker, "there are 
diuersities of operations, but God is the same, which worketh all in all" (1 Cor. 

14. light doth lighten: Prescott, Spenser's Poetry, 590, points out the echo of Luke 
2.32, said each day after the second lesson at evening prayer, "a light to lighten 
the Gentiles." If so, then Spenser may have cited the phrase because of its 
associatons with the mandatum of Matt. 28.19, "Go therefore, and teach all 

Thursday 31 January: Morning Prayer: Pss. 144-46 or 1-5, Matt. 28. Evening Prayer: Pss. 147-50 
or 6-8, 1 Cor. 12. 

Sonnet 10 

The sonnet comprises, in the first instance, a loose rendering of Petrarch's madrigal, 
"Or vedi, Amor" {Rime, 121), in which Cupid, the Lord of love, is called to wage 
vendetta with bow and arrow: 

Commentary 137 

Or vedi, Amor, che giovenetta donna 

tuo regno sprezza e del mio mal non cura, 

e tra duo ta' nemici e si secura. 

Tu se' armato, et ella in treccie e 'n gonna 

si siede e scalza in mezzo i fiori e 1' erba, 

ver me spietata e 'n contr' a te superba. 

r son pregion, ma se pieta ancor serba 

r arco tuo saldo e qualcuna saetta, 

fa di te e di me, Signor, vendetta. 
Petrarch's closing reference to Cupid's bow and arrow finds a parallel in the action 
of the ungodly in Ps. 11.2 at morning prayer for Friday 1 February: "For loe, the 
vngodly bende their bowe, and make readie their arrowes within the quiver: that 
they may privily shoote at them which are true (Geneva version, vpright) of heart." 

1. Vnri^teous Lord ofloue: A direct adaptation of morning prayer Ps. 11. 8, "For the 

righteous Lord loueth righteousnes." See headnote, Petrarch, "Amor / Signor." 
(Renwick 197 and Dasenbrock 38-50 provide a detailed comparison with Pet- 
rarch's madrigal.) Addressing Cupid as the Lord of loue was common (e.g., 
Sidney, AS 50.6, "my Lord Loue's owne behest") and Spenser's recasting the 
sacred as profane becomes a growing tendency through the sequence. 

Vnng/iteous: not conforming to the moral law, not upright (see headnote, 
Ps. 11.2, Geneva version). The word anticipates the sustained legal conceit 
(Lord [1], law [1], licent(iou5) [I], comptroll [10]), culminating with the wordplay 
on pain (14). 

What law is this: Compare the day's second lesson at morning prayer, Mark 
1.27, with its response to Christ's casting out the "vncleane spirit" from the 
"tormented" man, "What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for he 
commandeth the foule spirits with autoritie." 

2. tormented: In the Marcan account, the spirit, once cast out, exclaims, "what have 

we to do with thee . . . lesus of Nazaret? Art thou come to destroy vs?" (v. 24, 
to which Mark 5.7 [and the other evangelists] add, "1 charge thee by God, that 
thou torment me not"). Spenser has played with the etymology of tormented = 
tormentum, a military engine for throwing missiles, an allusion made explicit 
with Cupid's darts in lines 5-6. 

3. lordeth: rule tyranically; the only occasion Spenser uses the word — see evening 

prayer Ps. 12.4, "Who is Lord ouer vs?" 

licentious: trisyllabic by syncopation; from licentia, 1. unrestrained by law or 
decorum; 2. overly free; 3. lustful — see morning prayer Ps. 1 10.2, "The vngodly 
for his owne lust doeth persecute the poore," (see Mark 1.26 & 27, "vncleane 
spirit," and "foule spirits"). 

4. freewill: an unusual word in Spenser, carrying here a sense of reprehensible 


scorning both thee and me: see headnote, Petrarch, "sprezza" and "di te e di 
me." Spenser has also used the day's second lesson at evening prayer, 1 Cor. 13, 
Paul's celebrated hymn of love, to make a series of unfavorable comparisons: 
where, here, the lady is guilty of scorning both thee and me, in Paul's hymn love 
"disdaineth not" (v. 5). 

5. Tyrannesse: Cupid is described similarly in SC Oct., 108. See the Geneva version 

sidenote to Mark 5.7, "He abuseth the Name of God, to mainteine his tyrannie." 

138 Commentary 

doth ioy to see: in contrast to the Pauline claim, 1 Cor. 13.6, that love 
"reioyceth not in iniquitie." 

6. massacres: massacres; See F. Q, 111. iii. 35.6. 

vengeance take: See headnote Petrarch, "fa . . . vendetta." 

7. hurmbled harts: clearly 1. hearts; but possibly 2. a witty allusion to harts = deer and 

humbled = umbled, umbles being the innards of a deer (OED 1; see Johnson, 
Analogies, 89). 

9. hart: 1. heart; possibly 2. hart — continued in shake with its allusive connotation 

of 'shaking an animal' and in the secondary meaning of bow (see line 1 1 note). 
shake: 1. move; 2. weaken; 3. of an animal, to worry its prey. 

10. comptroll: used by Spenser only here; 1. regulate, hold in check; 2. call to 
account; Spenser is playing with the word's etymology, the Anglo-French 
contreroller, "to record in an account, to enroll (specifically faults) in a book," 
a meaning explicated precisely in al her faults in thy black booke enroll (12). 

1 1. bow: 1. bend, submit; 2. homonymically, the hunting bow is recalled. TTie day's 
morning prayer Ps. 11.2, "bende their bowe" underwrites both meanings. 

baser: 1. lower; 2. not gentle; 3. opposite oi free, 
make: mate; see Am. 70.11. 

12. black booke: in which the names of people liable to punishment are inscribed, 
see Zepheria, Canzon. 38.8, "Be they recogniz'd in black book of shame." 

enroll: the same root as comptroll. 

13. in equall sort: to an equal degree or extent. 

14. An alexandrine — so also Am. 45.14. 

sport: 1. entertainment, diversion, often associated with Cupid, e.g., FQ 
11. ix. 34. 6-7; 2. amorous dalliance; 3. blood-sport, a possible reference to the 
earlier deer-hunting. 

pain: 1. torment, suffering; 2. from poena it gains the association of a legal 
penalty (see Am. 11.13-14 note) — poena captivitatis was a common idiom from 
Justinian onwards; 3. Poena was also the God of vengeance (see vengeance [8]). 

Friday 1 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 9-11, Mark 1. Evening Prayer: Pss. 12-14, 1 Cor. 13. 

Sonnet 11 

The sonnet's conceit of the cruell warriour belongs to the tradition of Petrarch's 
"dolce mia guerrera" {Rime, 21) and "dolce mia nemica" {Rime, 202), although 
Spenser has here associated the martial imagery with that of courtship {sew [1], offer 
for my truth [2], addresse [31), so that the conceit is underwritten by a discreet 
compliment proper to a betrothal. The cruell warriour image replicates the warfare 
epithet, "cruel enemies," in evening prayer Ps. 18.49 for the feast of the Purifica- 
tion, Saturday 2 February. 
1. seeke and sew: a common yoking, e.g.. Am. 20.1. 

sew. 1. petition; 2, in an implied sense, woo (see FQ Vl.viii.20.6). The 

bridegroom and marriage chamber occur as a metaphor in the day's second 

lesson at morning prayer, Mark 2.19-20. 

peace: Repeatedly seeking peace recalls Simeon's presence in the day's 

Gospel's account of the Purification, Luke 2.22-27, whose prayer, the Nunc 

Dimittis, opens, "Lord, now lettest thou thy seruant departe in peace." The 

poet's prayer will find no such resolution. 

Commentary 139 

2. hostages: 1. persons handed to the enemy as a security; 2. a pledge, often associat- 

ed with host (see Daniel, Civil Wars, 2. 23, "The ost of Christ, an ostage for his 
troth"). Spenser is playing with the Pauline metaphor of combat (Vulgate, 
agone) in the day's Epistle, 1 Cor. 9.24-27, and has accepted the ancient 
association of agon with host ("Hostiam enim antiqui agoniam vocabant" [Paul. 
ex Fest. 10]). See Luke 2.24, where Mary and Joseph visit the Temple "to giue 
an oblation" (Vulgate, ut darem hostiam). The poet's offering his life as a victim 
becomes the matter of the sonnet's sestet; 3. hostage was also ironically associ- 
ated with marriage, e.g.. Bacon, Essay on Marriage, "He that hath Wife and 
Children, hath giuen Hostages to Fortune." 

offer for my truth: identifiable as the troth which the poet offers his be- 

3. cruell warriour: Compare the warfare conceit in Am. 57.1. 

CTuell: disyllabic. 

warriour: disyllabic by syncopation. 
3-4. doth her selfe addresse I to hattell: I. prepare for battle, in direct imitation of the 
warfare metaphor in the day's second lesson at evening prayer, 1 Cor. 14.8, 
"who shal prepare him self to battel"; 2. by implication, courtship of a lady 
{OED v.8c); the poet has already addressed himself to the lady, while the lady 
can only addresse herself to war. 

5. rexvth: pity, compassion. 

6. respit: I. an interval of rest; 2. a temporary cessation of war (OED sb 2). 

toile: 1. labor; 2. war. 

7. greedily: Compare morning prayer Ps. 17.12, "Like as a Lyon that is griedy of his 


fell: cruel, savage. 

9-10. The parallelisms make the syntax contorted; the primary sense is not of an 
intransitive verb, '1 would that she would desist,' but of a transitive whose 
object is life, 'I would yield to her my poor life.' 

Ufe ... I would her yield: 1. expire; 'to yield up life' was equivalent to 'to 
give up the ghost'; 2. militarily, surrender; 3. offer to her {OED v 10), continu- 
ing the image of sacrifice. 

9. assoyle: dissolve, remove, dispel. 

12-13. to force me liue, arxd will not letmedy. I . . . peace: The lady's actions are in 
contrast to the promise made to Simeon (Luke 2.27), "that he shulde not se 
death, before he had sene the Lords Christ." 

13-14. paine: 1. suffering; 2. legally, when associated with poena, its etymon, punish- 
ment or fine, a sense explicated in, ''no price . . . may surcease." 

price: Compare the nature of the Pauline combat, 1 Cor. 9.24, in which 
"one receiueth the price" (= prize). 

war . . . surcease: Proverbial, See Smith, Proverb Lore, 602. The poet's com- 
plaint bears comparison with the actions of Blandina {EQ VI. vi. 43.4-9). 

14. surcease: stop, bring to an end. 

Saturday 2 February, Purification: Epistk: 1 Cor. 9.24-27. Gospel; Luke 2.22-27. Morning Prajer; 

Pss. 15-17, Mark 2. Evening Prayer: Ps. 18, 1 Cor. 14. 

Sonnet 12 

1. One day: Directly imitating the opening to morning prayer Ps. 19 for Sexagesima 
Sunday, 3 February in 1634, "One day." 

140 Commentary 

sou^t: continues the conceit of Am. 1 1 and recapitulates its opening. 

hart'thrilling: 1. heart-piercing; see the prophetic echo of the Sunday's 
evening prayer Ps. 22.17, "They pearced my handes, and my feete"; 2. militari- 
ly, a hurled dart (or weapon) which pierces; 3. a heart that is moved by emotion; 
4. since thrill was a substitute for thrall (OED v 2), heart-capturing, a sense taken 
up in captiuing (11). 

eies: forces which lie in ambush and dart forth as weapons to strike the 
lover's heart was a common device among Petrarchist poets. Castiglione, The 
Courtier, 3 (Everyman, 247), makes the same point: "The eyes therefore lye 
lurking like souldiers in war, lying in waite in bushment, and if the forme of all 
the bodie be well favoured and of good proportion, it draweth unto it and 
allureth who so beholdeth it a farre off: untill he come nigh: and as soone as he 
is at hand, the eyes shoote, and like sorcerers bewitch, and especially when by 
a right line they send their glistering beames into the eyes of the wight be- 

2. termes to entertaine: accept (mutually) the conditions of the truce. 

3. false enimies: Compare "the fetches of false apostles," and the "false brethren" of 

the day's Epistle, 2 Cor. 11.26. 

4. to entrap in treasons traine: a pleonasm, a traine meaning an entrapment. Such 

entrapment reproduces that of Ps. 22.16's complaint, "the counsell of the 
wicked layde siege against me," and the pharisees' plottings in the day's second 
lesson at morning prayer, Mark 3.6, who "straight waye gathered a councel with 
the Herodians against him, that they might destroye him." 

5. disarmed: 1. without weapons, having been defeated; 2. lacking hostility, harm- 


7. close couert: a second pleonasm, close = hidden, couert = hiding place. Identifying 

the recesses of the eyes as secret is proper to the feast's second lesson at evening 
prayer, 1 Cor. 15.51-52, "Behold, 1 shew you a secret thing ... in the twinkling 
of an eye. . . ." 

8. throng: the only occasion when the verb occurs in the sequence and imitating 

Mark 3.9, "lest they shulde throng him" (one of only two Geneva version's uses 
of the verb). 

9. t'abide the brunt: to bear the assault; a colloquial expression {OED 2). 

10. yeeld my selfe into their hands: See Am. 11.9-10, note. TTie poet's submission 
contrasts with the escape of Paul, in the day's Epistle, 2 Cor. 11.33, who 
thwarted the governor of Damascus and "escaped his hands." 

11. strei^t: 1. of imprisonment (captiuing), rigorous, strict; 2. o( hands, tightly drawn 
together — see Am. 71.6-7 (and its note for the line's covert military allusion); 
3. immediately. 

rigorous: extremely strict, unyielding (particularly of laws and justice). 
13. cort^>laine: lodge a complaint, make a formal statement of grievance. The legal 

conceit imitates Ps. 22.1, "My God, my God (looke upon me) why ... art [thou] 

so farre . . . from the words of my complaint?" 
Sunday 3 February, Sexagesima Sunday: Epiitle: 2 Cor. 11.19-33. Gospel: Luke 8.4-16. Morrung 
Prayer: Pu. 19-21, Mark 3. Evening Prayer; Pss. 22-23, 1 Cor. 15. 

Sonnet 13 

1 . port: gait, carriage, mode of walking — an etymological, scriptural and homonymic 
pun. A feature of morning prayer Ps. 24 for Monday 4 February is its repeated 

Commentary 141 

verse, "Lift vp your heades, O ye gates, and be ye lift vp ye euerlasting doores" 
(vv. 7 & 9; Vulgate, Attollite portas). Spenser has construed portas not as gate = 
gate, but as gate = port or gait, in the 16th century spelled only as gate (see Hub 
600; FQ V.v.4.1-2 contains a clearer instance of the etymological pun). 

(Ps. 24.7-9 are also reflected in the final couplet of the sonnet for the 
Ascension, Am. 82, "Whose lofty argument vplifting me, / shall lift you vp vnto 
an high degree." As well. Am. 13's matter land vocabulary], the lifting of the 
eyes to the heavens and the scorning of earth, is found in Am. 72, which also 
corresponds to an Ascension account.) 

goodly graceth: imitating the Geneva Bible introduction to Ps. 24, "gracious 

2. rears vp to the skie: 1. directs upwards, echoing Attollite (= "lift vp"). Compare 

Ovid's description of creation, echoes of which persist throughout the sonnet. 
Met. 1.86, "erectos ad sidera toUere vultus (= reared their faces upwards to the 
sky)"; 2. secondarily, nourishes — sustained in the pun on bom (6). 
3 & 5. ground & earth: Mark 4, the day's second lesson at morning prayer, mostly 
consists of the parable of the sower sowing in various types of grourui and earth, 
"stonie ground" (vv. 5 & 16), "good grounde" (v. 8) and "earth" (vv. 5, 28, 
31). References to ground and earth are later overlaid with Ovid's creation 
account and that of Genesis. 

3. low: The sonnet is marked by progressions and repetitions: the progressive 

polyptoton, low, lowly (13), lowlinesse (14), and the repetitions of goodly (1 &. 4) 
and bfty (9 & 14). 

embaseth: 1. direct themselves downwards; 2. humble themselves. (The 
biblical analogue for such humbling is Isa. 7.10-11.) 

4. temperature: 1. combination or blending of physical attributes; 2. disposition or 

bent of mind, temperament — compare Belphoebe, whose face is "withouten 
blame or blot, / Through goodly mixture of complexions dew" {FQ lI.iii.22.3-7). 
descry: discover. 

5. maiesty: the distinguishing characteristic of the human person in Ovid's account 

of creation: "He gaue to man a stately looke replete with maiestie." (Met. 1.84- 
85 IGolding 1.97-99]). 

6. borne: 1. from which she was carried — reversed in retume (6); 2. from which she 

was bom, given birth. TTie pun was a frequent Elizabethan one, e.g.. Am. 8.14 

7. vnirxd . . . vnortalitie: Am. 72.1-3 shows the same twofold direction. 

8. shall to earth retume: Axiomatic and an adaptation of Gen. 3.19, "til thou retume 

to the earth: for out of it wast thou taken, because thou art dust, and to dust 
shalt thou retume." 

9. lojty countenance: disyllabic by syncopation; see Ovid, Met. 1.86 (Golding, 1.99), 

"wyth countnance cast on hie." 
9-10. scome I base thing: The phrase {Fuge turpia) was proverbial — see Am. 5.6 & 

11-12. See the Geneva Bible introduction to Ps. 24, ''purged from the sinful filth of 

this worlde," and Ovid's creation. Met. 1.68, "quicquam terrenae faecis haben- 

tem" (Golding (1.78), "all dregs of earthly filth or grossenesse"). 

drossy: impure, the surface scum detracting from or hiding the purity of 

heauenly thoughts, see Am. 27.2. The word was an apposite Neo-Platonic term 

142 Commentary 

and was used particularly by Spenser in his Neo-Platonic hymns, see HL 184, 

HB 48, HHL 276, & HHB 279. 

slime: the human body as a mixture of earth and water (compare Ovid, 

Met. 1.80 ff.). In Gen. 2.7 de limo terrae was normally translated as "the dust of 

the grounde," even though limus was thought to be the stem of slime. 
11. forlome: abandoned, destined for nothing (as in "to dust shalt thou retume"). 
13-14. Women's sovereignty is a frequent theme in the sequence, see Am. 25, 31, 

38, 41, 47, 49, 55 & 57; FQ VI.viii.1-2. 

Monday 4 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 24-26, Mark 4. Evening Prayer: Pss. 27-29, 1 Cor. 16. 

Sonnet 14 

The siege conceit is stock among Petrarchist sonneteers. Here it corresponds with 
the dominant image of the morning prayer Psalm for Tuesday 5 February, Ps. 31.3- 
4, "be thou my strong rocke, and the house of defence. . . . For thou art my strong 
rocke, and my castell." The sonnet brings to a close a series of preceding sonnets, 
whose pleadings become the engins of the present siege. The siege metaphor easily 
carried a range of obliquely sexual puns. 

1. forces: 1. primarily physical strength; 2. military might. 

late: recently, see line 1 1 note. 

dismayd: used only once elsewhere — with bawdy associations, Am. 6.1. 

2. siege: The siege topos can be found, inter alia, in the opening lines to Sidney, AS 

36, "Stella, whence doth this new assault arise"; Lynche, Diella, Sonnet 7, 
"When Loue had first besieg'd my harts strong wall," and Percy below, Coelia, 
Sonnet 10. 

4. peece: 1. castle, stronghold (OED 10 b); 2. by implication, a piece of artillery; 3. 

of a person, either male (often a soldier) or female (OED 9); 4. in conjunction 
with fayre, a fine structure, masterpiece — see FQ 11. xi. 14.9. 

for: because of. 

repulse: 1 . the repelling of a military assault; 2. the refusal or rebuff of a suit 
or approach. 

5. Gaynst such strong castles: See headnote, Ps. 31.3-4. needeth = it needeth. 

6. fort: a iX)lyptoton of forces, identified through its root (fortis = strong) with strong 

and echoing morning prayer Ps. 31.27, "Be strong, and he shall stablish (Vul- 
gate = confortetur) your heart." 

ifont: accustomed to. 

belay: (= to lay beside) besiege with the sense of encircling (hence a 
remotely bawdy touch). The only occasion Spenser uses the word which has the 
same sense and root as beleaguer. 

7. haughty: 1. proud, disdainful; 2. highly courageous, thus ironically the same as 

hardy, courageous. 

enur'd: 1. accustomed, as in wont above; 2. of the military, hardened 
through training and endurance. 

hardy: 1. courageous; 2. in keeping with enur'd, capable of enduring 
hardship (normally a quality of the mind rather than a fight). 

8. assay: 1. assault (but with sexual associations, e.g., Shakespeare, VA 607, and 

Percy, Coelia, Sonnet 10, "To winne the Fort how oft haue I assayd"); it is 
connected with battery through the phrase, "assault and battery"; 2. secondarily, 
Cried or tested. 

Commentary 143 

10-12. heart . . . conuert: a correct sixteenth century rhyme, see FQ V.v.lS.l-l & 
Am. 42.8-11. 

10. lay . . . battery to: 1. apply a series of artillery blows against a castle; 2. a battery 
was also a combined group of separate artillery pieces (which are individually 
named in the next line); 3. the sounds of beating drums during a siege (such as 
the poet's playnts, prayers, vowes, etc.). 

incessant: 1. without pausing; 2. unending. 

to her heart: Compare Artegal's properly gentle advances towards Britomart, 
FQ IV. vi. 40. 3-4, "with meeke seruice and much suit did lay / ODntinuall siege 
vnto her gentle hart." 
11-12. playnts . . . conuert: conuert is an unusual word for Spenser and a playful 
rendering of the Vulgate's version of morning prayer Ps. 30.12, convertisti 
planctum meum, where convertisti has been rendered as conuert, and planctum as 
playnt, whose etymon planctum is. 

11. playnts, prayers, vowes, ruth, sorrow, and dismay: recapitulating the engins of the 
preceding sonnets: playnts: Am. 12.13; prayers (and vouies): Am. 11.14; ruth: Am. 
11.5; sorrow: Am. 11.11; dismay: Am. 14.1. 

vowes: prayers or supplications rather than a solemn promise. 

12. engins: 1. machines used in warfare; 2. ingenious devices (from the word's root, 

13. fall downe: In direct imitation of two episodes in Mark 5, the day's second lesson 
at morning prayer, that of the woman cured of a flow of blood, who "fel downe 
before him" (v. 33), and that of Jairus, who, when he saw Christ, also "fel 
downe at his fete" (v. 22). 

13-14. dy before her, I so dying liue, and liuingdo adore her: The paradoxical juxtaposi- 
tion recalls Jairus who besought Christ, "My litle daughter lieth at point of 
death . . . come and laye thine hands on her, that she may be healed, and liue" 
(Mark 5.22). 

14. adore her: Compare Mark 5.6, "ranne, and worshipped (Vulgate, adoravit) him." 

Tuesday 5 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 30-31, Mark 5. Evening Prayer: Pss. 32-24, 2 Cor. 1. 

Sonnet 15 

The sonnet is a fine example of the traditional blason, whose conventions Geoffrey 
de Vinsauf had laid down in the thirteenth century. In 1536 an anthology of French 
blasons, Les Blasons anatomiques du corps feminin, ensemble les contreblasons, was 
published and frequently reprinted. The convention extolled the lady's beauty, 
describing her every part emblematically (often by biblical analogues from the Song 
of Solomon (e.g., 5.10-16) or Prov. 31.10-31) and concluding with a reference to 
her inner perfection. 

1-2. tradefull Merchants . . . to make your gaine: The conceit corresponds to the 
second lesson at evening prayer for Wednesday 6 February, 2 Cor. 2.17, "For we 
are not as manie, which make marchandise of the worde of God," with its 
Geneva version gloss, "That is, which preache for gaine, and corrupt it to serue 
mens affections." The Geneva Bible generally construed such 'merchants' as the 
Pope and his priests (see 1 Pet. 2.3, "they with faigned words make marchandize 
of you," with its sidenote, "This is euidently sene in the Pope and his priests"). 
Such glosses took their force from the condemnation of the merchants of 
Babylon in Rev. 18.11-19, identified in that chapter's marginal entries as 

144 Commentary 

"Romish prelates and marchants of soules." Spenser has had recourse to the 
details of Revelation for the sonnet's divisio: "And the marchants of the earth 
shal wepe and waile ouer her: for no man byeth their ware any more. TTie ware 
of golde and siluer, and of precious stone, and of pearles . . . and of all vessels of 
yuorie. . . . The marchants of these things which were waxed riche, shal stand a 
farre from her. . . . Alas, alas, the great citie, that was . . . guilded with golde, 
and precious stone, and pearles." Spenser adopts many of the passage's details 
for the parallel blason in Epith. 167-80. 

Most Elizabethan sonneteers included at least one blason in their sequence, 
e.g., Sidney's extended and frequently revised blason in OA 62 and the riposte 
in AS 32.10-12. See also Lynche, Diella, Sonnets 3, 16, 31, & The Love ofDom 
Diego and Gyneura, 69-78; Bamfield, Cynthia with certaine Sonnets, 17; and 
Shakespeare's parody. Sonnet 130. 

3-4. spoile . . . needeth: Spenser has drawn on the blason's further Old Testament 
source, the virtuous woman, defined by Solomon in Prov. 31.10-31: "Who shal 
finde a vertuous woman? for her price is farre aboue the pearles. The heart of 
her housband trusteth in her, and he shal haue no nede of spoile. . . . She is like 
the shippes of marchants: she bringeth her fode from a farre. . . . She feleth that 
her marchandise is good. . . . Manie daughters haue done vertuously: but thou 
surmountest them all." 

7. Saphyres: Bart. Angl. 266"^'^, describes the sapphire as "cheife of precious stones," 
and associates it with the eyes, "His vertue keepeth and saueth the sight, and 
cleanseth eien of filth without any greefe." It also "loueth chastity." 

7-8. Rubies . . . Pearles: Belphoebe's mouth is similarly described {FQ Il.iii.24.8-9). 

9. Rubies: Qimpare Am. 81.9-10, "the gate with pearls and rubies richly dight." (A 

translation of Tasso's "Porta de' bei rubin." The biblical analogue is Rev. 

sound: unflawed, but sound is associated with the lips. The ruby was consid- 
ered to temper fleshly urges. (See FQ lV.viii.6.7.) 

10. Yuorie: Compare Belphoebe's "iuorie forhead" {FQ ll.iii.24.1). The yoking was 
frequent, e.g., Ariosto, Orl. Fur., VII. 11.7, "di terso avorio era la fronte lieta." 

weene: either 1. consider; or 2. possibly beautiful, the only such usage by 
Spenser but in keeping with the parallel syntax of lines 7-12. 
13-14. That which fairest is . . . vertues manifold: Prov. 31.29 concludes its definition 
of a virtuous woman, "Manie daughters haue done vertuously: but thou sur- 
mountest them all." 

Wednesday 6 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 35-36, Mark 6; Evening Prayer: Ps. 37, 2 Cor. 2. 

Sonnet 16 

1. One day: a favorite Spenserian opening, see Am. 12. Cupid and his arrows occurs 
frequently among the amoretti (e.g., Am. 4.8, 8.5-6, 17.9, 24-7, 39.1-4, 57.8) 
and was stock-in-trade among Petrarchists. Compare Petrarch, Rime, 2.1-6, with 
which this sonnet bears some resemblance: 

Per fare una leggiadra sua vendetta 

e punire in un di ben mille offese, 

celatamente Amore I'arco riprese, 

come uom ch'a nocer luogo e tempo aspetta; 

Commentary 145 

era la mia virtute al cor ristretta 

per far ivi e negli occhi sue difese 

vnufarily: incautiously, imprudently; see Am. 24-6. 

2. eyes . . . li^t: TTie physical nature of the lady's looks matches the detail of the 

second lesson at morning prayer for Thursday 7 February, Mark 7.21-22, "euen 
out of the heart of men, procede euil thoghts ... a wicked eye," which the 
Geneva Bible glosses as "wantonnes." Compare morning prayer Ps. 38.10, "the 
sight (Vulgate, lumen oculorum meorum = light) of mine eies is gone from me." 
immortall: not subject to death, in contrast to the fleshly eyes from which 
Cupid darts his deadly arrowes (7). 

3. stonisht hart: Mark 7.37 likewise reports that, because of Christ's miracles, the 

multitudes "were beyonde measure astonied." 

amaze: 1. confusion (see Am. 17.2); 2. infatuation, see Am. 35.7, "in their 
amazement lyke Narcissus vaine." 

4. illusion: 1. deception — used elsewhere by Spenser only as magical or false; 2. 

scorning or mockery. 

5. glauncing: 1. of the eyes, looking momentarily; 2. of light, flashing; 3. Spenser 

also uses the word of a dart (see F. Q, 17.5-6). 

6. legions: used twice elsewhere by Spenser as "a whole legione / Of wicked 

Sprightes" {FQ 111. ix. 2. 7-8); either an "infinit nomber" or "aboue 6000" in the 
Geneva glosses to Matt. 26.53 and Mark 5.9, where the devil cast out by Christ 
responds "My name is Legion." Mark 7.24-30 contains an account of the 
casting out of devils. (In Am. 57.7-8 the darts number only 1000.) 
loues: 1. little cupids (little devils?); 2. amoretti. 

7. deadly arrowes: TTie sagittal topos imitates directly morning prayer Ps. 38.2, "For 

thine arrowes sticke fast in me: and thy hand presseth me sore." Compare 
Belphoebe's eyes, FQ Il.iii.23.3. 

9. closely: 1 . secretly, hence 'I did spy the archer secretly aiming'; 2. privately, hence 

'I privately did spy the archer aiming.' 

10. hart: The object of the fyry arrowes, the poet's heart, reflects the psalmist's cry 
in morning prayer Ps. 39.4, "My heart was hot (Vulgate, concaluit = to glow 
warmly or with love) within me, and while 1 was thus musing, the fire kindled." 

11. tmncle: 1. blink; 2. an instant of time. 

12. ndsintended dart: the only Spenserian usage and a Spenserian coinage (OED cites 
only this instance giving the sense of "maliciously purposed"); 1. of an arrow, 
misdirected {intendere = to aim an arrow, e.g., Vergil, Aen. 9.590, "intendisse 
sagittam"; Spenser renders Ps. 58.6, Intendit arcum suum as "bend your force" 
in Am. 49.8). See FQ II.iii.23.9, where Belphoebe also "broke his [Cupid's] 
wanton darts"; 2. of eye-glances (which constitute the darts), 'intend the eyes' 
was a Latinism deriving from intendere oculos; 3. if Spenser is playing on 'in' and 
the surgical term 'tent,' (to pierce or probe [OED v 4]), a dart that wrongly 
pierced the px)et. 

14. hardly: 1. with difficulty or barely; 2. painfully — hence the pleonasm, 'painfully 

scap't with paine'; 3. secretly, echoing closely (9). 
Thursday 7 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 38-40, Mark 7. Evening Prayer: Pss. 41-43, 2 Cor. 3. 

Sonnet 17 

This example of the familiar portrait sonnet closely resembles in its opening line the 
descriptions of Belphoebe, whose "face so faire as flesh it seemed not, / But heauen- 

146 Commentary 

ly pourtraict of bright Angels hew" (FQ II.iii.22. 1-2), and Amoret, "Whose face 
discouered, plainely did expresse / The heauenly pourtraict of Angels hew" {FQ 
IV. V. 13.3-4). The sonnet imitates closely morning prayer Ps. 45 for Friday 8 Febru- 
ary, an epithalamial psalm which the Geneva version describes as a song, "Of that 
perfite loue that ought to be betwene the housband and the wife." 
1-2. The glorious pourtraict of that Angels face . . . confused skil: The terms, gbrious, 
Angels, face and confused find coincident parallels in three of the day's scriptural 
passages. The detail firstly imitates the second lesson at morning prayer, Mark 
8.38, "whosoeuer shalbe ashamed (Vulgate, confusus) of me . . . of him shal the 
Sonne of man be ashamed (Vulgate, confundetur) also, when he cometh in the 
glorie of his Father with the holie Angels." Similarly the second lesson at 
evening prayer, 2 Cor. 4.4 &. 6, celebrate, "the light of the glorious Gospel of 
Christ, which is the image of God," and a God who is "he which ha the shined 
in our hearts, to giue the light of the knowledge of the glorie of God in the face 
of lesus Christ." Morning prayer Ps. 44.16 confirms the detail, "My confusion 
is dayly before me: and the shame of my face hath couered me." To match the 
correspondences Spenser has recalled the earlier descriptions of Belphoebe and 
1. ^rious: See Ps. 45.14, "The kings daughter is all glorious within." 

3. this worlds worthlesse gbry; Reflecting Christ's maxim in Mark 8.36, "For what 

shal it profite a man, thogh he shulde winne the whole worlde, if he lose his 
soule." (The like thought in Am. 35.13, "All this worlds glory seemeth vayne 
to me," reflects the parallel biblical verse, Luke 9.25, "What auantageth it a 
man, if he winne the whole worlde.") 
ernbase: degrade. 

4. what pen, what pencill can expresse her fill?: Matching the psalmist's exclamation, 

Ps. 45.2, "My tongue is the penne of a ready writer," even if the poet disparages 
his pen while the psalmist acclaims his. Compare FQ ll.iii.25.8, "How shall 
fraile pen descriue her [Belphoebe 'si heauenly face." 

pencill: an artist's brush, often of sable, used for delicate work. The comparison 

was commonplace, e.g., Shakespeare, Sonnet 101.6-7 & Zepheria, Canzon 2.1-4. 

5-6. he/his: it/its, that is the pen, which implies a subsequent series of actions by the 

pen that are autonomous of the poet and which depict a still-bom portrait, not 

something lively. 

5. colours: Imitating Ps. 45.10, "wrought about with diuers colours." 

6. pleasure: Matches the pleasure of the king, Ps. 45.12, "So shal the king haue 

pleasure in thy beautie." 

7. spill: destroy. 

9. The sweet eye-ounces, that like arrowes giide; oeillades: amorous glances by which 
the lady captures the poet's heart without intending to satisfy him; see Ps. 45.6 
for the metaphor of eyes that, like arrowes, afflict the heart, "Thy arrowes are 
very sharpe" (Vulgate, Sagittae tuae acutae . . .in corda (Geneva version, "Thine 
arrowes are sharpe to perce the heart"). 

10- 11. The charming smiles, that rob sence from the hart: I the louely pleasance: For a 
detailed account of the (JnA.o(i^Ei5Tiq 'A(j)po5(TTi, see Am. 39. 

13-14. A greater crafusmaru hand thereto doth neede, I that can expresse the life ofthirxgs 
indeed: A divine hand capable of giving life to the portrait. In FQ III. Pr.2.1-2 
&. 3.6-8 the hands of painter and poet are compared and each found inadequate 
to express the beauty of Elizabeth. 

Commentary 147 

greater craftesmans hand: TTie poet is associating his lowly endeavors with 
those of the lesser craftsman ("faber imus") of Horace, Ars Poet. 32-25, whose 
art can express ("exprimet") detail, but who cannot portrait the figure as a 
whole, "faber imus et ungues / exprimet et moUes imitabitur aere capillos, / 
infelix operis summa, quia ponere totum / nesciet." 

hand: In Mark 8.23 &. 25 sight is given by Christ's hand: "he toke the 
blind by the hand," and, "he put his hands againe upon his eyes." 

Friday 8 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 44-46, Mark 8. Evenir^ Prayer: Ps. 47-49, 2 Cor. 4. 

Sonnet 18 

Of the sonnet's two parts, the first is built upon the much-used proverb of the 
wheel, the second is a fresh treatment of a favorite Spenserian conceit, the stage. 

1 . rolling wheele: TTie image of the turning wheel corresponds to the image in the 

second lesson at morning prayer for Saturday 9 February, Mark 9.42, the well- 
known admonition involving the millstone, "better for him rather, that a 
milstone were hanged about his necke, and that he were cast into the sea." 

2. tract of time: 1. the course of time — a commonplace {tractus temporum); 2. second- 

arily, the course of a dramatic action, thus identifying the sonnet's two parts, see 
Sidney, Apologie Kl", "the whole tract of a Comedy, shoulde be full of delight." 
teare: compare the word's unusual use, Mark 9.18 & 20, "he teareth him," 
and, "he tare him." (See also morning prayer Ps. 50.22 [Geneva Version], "lest 
I teare you in pieces.") 
3-4. drops . . . flint . . . weare: Proverbial from classical times; see Lucretius, De rerum 
Natura, 1.313, "Stillicidi lapsus lapidem cavat," and Ovid, Ex Ponto, 4.10.5, 
"Gutta cavat lapidem"; see also Fletcher, Licia, 28.5, & Lynche, Diella, 9.11- 

3. drizzling: of rain, but poetically associated with tears, redound: overflow. 

4. in continuance: in the course of time, see Ovid, Met. 15.235 (Golding, 15.259), 

"And when [tyme] that long continuance hath them bit." 

5. soften her hard hart: See morning prayer Ps. 55.22, "The words of his mouth were 

softer then butter" (Vulgate, Molliti sunt servnones eius). The sonnet's phrase is 
more complex than the customary trite usage: Mark's stone, in the Vulgate, is 
vnola, a grinding stone, not lapis. Spenser has identified the Latin semi-homo- 
phones mo]hti and mola to produce the contrasting soften . . . hard. (See Varro, 
De re rustica, 1.55, "molae oleariae duro et aspero lapide.") 
9-14. As in Sonnet 54 the theatrical conceit corresponds with the biblical image of 
the tabernacle and, through the koine, the stage, see the day's second lesson at 
evening prayer, 2 Cor. 5.1-4, "For we knowe that if our earthlie house of this 
tabernacle be destroied, we haue a buylding giuen of God, that is, an house not 
made with hands, hut eternal in the heauens. . . . For in dede we that are in this 
tabernacle, sigh and are burdened"; "tabernacle" renders the koine OKtivoix;, 
which was both a tabernacle and the technical term for a wooden stage on 
which actors performed. (Am. 54, ''Oi this worlds Theatre . . . pageants play" 
corresponds with Heb. 9.11 of "a greater and more perfite Tabernacle [koine, 
OKrivfiq], not made with hands, that is, not of this buylding.") See also Mark 
9,5, "let vs make also thre tabernacles (koine, OKrivocq xpeic;)." 

The etymology was well established in the sixteenth century, see Scaliger, 
Poetices, 16, "Nomen [scenae] invenit ex eo, quod alia atque alia facies subinde 

148 Commentary 

appareret ex aediculis, quae olim quum e ramis ac frondibus conficerentur, ita 
sunt ab umbris et tabemaculis appellatae. Et sane verbum militare aKr|voc5 . Et 
apud Timeum Locum aKavoq, baud longe abest ab ea significatione." The six- 
teenth century also associated tabernacle with pageant (OED sb 4a). 

9-14. The dramatic is reinforced by the sestet's ambiguous punctuation: by placing 
commas after sayes in lines 10 and 11 and by the spelling of Teares, the 1611 
and 1617 folios suggest that their editors understood the words to belong in the 
lady's mouth as rebuttals of direct discourse. 

9-12. when I . . . when I: Replicating the rhetorical structure of the Geneva version's 
sidenote q to 2 Cor. 5.16, "When 1 praise my ministerie, I commende the 
power of God: when 1 commende our worthie factes, I praise the mightie power 
of God." 

9. play my part: Compare Mark 9.40, "Whosoeuer is not against vs, is on our part." 

10. teares are but water: so also with Blandina: "all her teares but water" (FQ Compare the father in Mark 9.24, who "crying with teares, said. 
Lord, 1 beleue." 

11. sigh: Compare Paul's sighing, 2 Cor. 5.2 & 4, "therefore we sigh," and, "we 
that are in this tabernacle, sigh and are burdened." 

12. tumes hir selfe to laughter: See morning prayer Ps. 52.7, "shall laugh him to 
scome." Compare Am. 54.1 1-12, "but when 1 laugh she mocks, and when I cry 
/ she laughes, and hardens euermore her hart" (corresponding with Ps. 80.6, 
"laugh vs to scome"). 

14. Steele and flint: also an apparatus used to produce fire. 
still: 1. yet; 2. quietly, not responding. 

Saturday 9 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 50-52, Mark 9. Evening Prayer: Pss. 53-55, 2 Cor. 5. 

Sonnet 19 

Sonnet 19's covert allusions to the betrothal period are reminiscent of the intimacy 
of Sonnet 4. It is the first of two sonnets celebrating the arrival of spring, the other 
being Sonnet 70. Its celebrating spring agrees with a footnote attached to most 
sixteenth century editions of the BCP's calendar and belonging to February 8: "As 
vpon this day, the Romanes began their spring, after Plinie." Sonnet 19, which 
corresponds to Quinquagesima Sunday 10 February, observes the calendar's instruc- 
tion and for the subsequent third day celebrates the third announcement of the 
cuckoo's trumpet. 

1. Cuckow . . . messenger of Spring: Spenser refers to the cuckoo again in Am. 85.3. 
Two lines of allusive thought converge here: 1 . from ancient times the cuckoo 
was identified as the harbinger of spring (see Pliny, Nat. Hist.,, 
"procedit vere") and Spenser has accepted the standard association; 2. a more 
oblique vein of allusion begins with the second lesson at morning prayer, Mark 
10, with its precept: "For the hardnes of your heart he wrote this precept vnto 
you." The precept warns against adultery because of marriage's indissoluble 
nature, "what God hathe coupled to gether, let not man separate. . . . Whoso- 
euer shal put away his wife and marie another, comitteth adulterie against her. 
And if a woman put away her housband, and be maried to another, she commit- 
tcth adulterie" (Mark 10.5-12 passim. That Spenser intended the echo is con- 
firmed by his unusual use of precept [11] — it occurs only twice elsewhere in the 
Spenser canon and not in Amoretti — and its unusual use in the Geneva Bible — 

Commentary 149 

which normally uses 'commandment'). That the lady should not be separated 
from her betrothed is a stricture of the sonnet. From classical times adulterers 
and cuckoldry were associated with the cuckoo because of its habit of laying eggs 
in another's nest (see Pliny, Nat. Hist.,, "educat ergo subditum 
adulterato feta nido," and Plautus, Asinaria, 5.3, "Te cuculum uxor ex lustris 
rapit"). Spenser has thus used the biblical injunctions against separation and 
adultery to condemn his betrothed's absence as the cuckoo announces spring. 
2. trompet shrill: the cacophonous mating call of the cuckoo — in contrast to the 
anthemes sweet denized (6) of the other birds. 

thrise: See headnote and Pliny, Nat. Hist.,, "Ver ergo aperit 
. . . dies sextus Februarias ante idus." Spenser's use of the subsequent third day 
to celebrate the third announcement of the cuckoo's trumpet is confirmed by 
both Mark 10 and Luke 18.31-42, the day's Gospel, which contain, in identical 
words, Christ's third prediction of his rising again on the third day: "the third 
day he shal rise againe." Only in 1594 was Quinquagesima Sunday the third day 
after the beginning of the Roman spring. 

4. girland: 1. garland; 2. figuratively, glory, see Col 498-99. 

6. anthemes: from antiphona, a composition sung responsively by a divided choir. 

denized: trisyllabic; 1. invented; 2. etymologically, divided (from dividere), 
as in two-part antiphonal singing. 

anthemes . . . hues prayse: the sonnet's secondary motif of love matches the 
day's Epistle, 1 Cor. 13, Paul's celebrated hymn in praise of love. 

7. that all the woods theyr ecchoes back rebounded: Looks forward to the refrain in 

Epith.; see FQ VI. x. 10.5 and passim: "That through the woods their Eccho did 
rebound." The stanza introduces the episode of the Graces dancing to Colin 
Clout's melody to which Sonnet 19 bears some resemblance, although Colin 
Clout pipes to a fourth grace, Elizabeth, who is present (16.6-8). 

5. as if they knew the meaning of their layes: 1. as if the woods knew the meaning of 

the choirs' lays; 2. as if the woods knew the meaning of the woods' echoes. 

10. no word was heard: Compare the presence and response of the second lesson at 
evening prayer, 2 Cor. 6.2, "1 haue heard thee in a time accepted . . . beholde 
now the accepted time, beholde now the daye of saluation." The Geneva Bible 
glosses Mark 10.6's precept about marrriage by stating that the only true test is 
"to retume to the institution of thinges, to trie them by Gods worde." The 
lady's silence is thus opposed to God's word. 

11. precept: 1. a moral commandment particularly a biblical one; 2. legally an order 
or proclamation issued by a legal authority, such as a king, requiring the atten- 
dance of someone at a court {OED 4), a meaning sustained in the legal use of 
rebell (14). 

proudly: 1. vaingloriously; 2. possibly lustfully, particularly following the 
phrase Loues honor rayse. The Geneva sidenote to Mark 10.15 explains that, 
"we must be . . . voide of all pride and concupiscence." 

12. ydle: vain. 

set at nou^t: Compare the second lesson at morning prayer for the prior 
day, Mark 9.12, "the Sonne of man must ... be set at noght." 

13. tume to thee: See evening prayer Ps. 60.1, "O tume thee vnto vs againe." 

14. ere Cuckow end: A covert allusion to the time of the poet's marriage on 1 1 June 
1594. Pliny recounts that the cuckoo appears in spring, changes its voice, and 
has disappeared by the rising of the dog-star (Nat. Hist., 10.9.1 1.26, "occultatur 

150 Commentary 

caniculae ortu"). TTne Glosse to SC 23 July identifies the reign of the dog-star 
with the middle of summer. (In the calendar to the 1561 BCP its beginning is 
indicated as 7 July, although it was sometimes calculated as early as 20 June.) 
The poet's separation from his betrothed should then be overcome by his 
marriage on 11 June before the disappearance of the cuckoo. 

rebell: one who disobeys a legal summons or precept; as re-hell chosen 
possibly as a verbal continuance of resounded and ecchoes back rebounded. 

Quinquagesima Sunday 10 February: Epistle: 1 Cor. 13.1-13. Gospel: Luke 18.31-43. Morning 

Prayer: Pss. 56-58, Mark 10. Evening Prayer: Pss. 59-61, 2 Cor. 6. 

Sonnet 20 

The sonnet's conceit plays upon the common belief that the lion yields before the 
innocent (and indeed the prostrate). Spenser had developed the emblem in FQ 
I.iii.5-7, where Una's beauty and truth cause the lion to submit to her. Here the 
lady is impervious to the poet's suit and is revealed not as innocence which calms 
the lion but as cruelty beyond that of the lion. 

1. In vaine I seeke: An exact rendering of the Vulgate version of morning prayer Ps. 

63.10 (for Monday 11 February), Ipsi vero in vanum quaesierunt = In vain they 
did seek. Coverdale renders the verse, "These also that seeke the hurt of my 
soule: they shall go under the earth." 

2. myne hurr]bled hart before her poure: In direct imitation of morning prayer Ps. 62.8, 

"powre out your hearts before him." 

3. her foot she in my necke doth place: Compare FQ V.iv.40.2-3. The phrase's biblical 

analogue is Josh. 10.24. 

4. floure: the earth; see Ps. 63.10, "they shall go under the earth." 

4-5. tread my life downe in the lowly floure. I ... the Lyon that is Lord of power: That 
the lion alone spares the suppliant was proverbial, see Pliny, Nat. Hist., 8.19.48, 
"Leoni tantum ex feris dementia in supplices." That it spares the prostrate, see 
Ovid, Tristia, 3.5.33: "GDrpora magnanimo satis est prostrasse leoni"; Erasmus, 
Similia, 61 IB, "Leo . . . simplicibus ac prostratis parcit"; & Lynche, Dielhx, 21.9- 
12. The phrase's biblical analogue was Ps. 17.2 & 45. 

5-7. Lyon . . . deuoure: See Ps. 63.11, Geneva Bible, sidenote f, "shal ... be de- 
uoured with wilde beastes." 

8. silly lambe: innocent — see FQ 

13-14. See Am. 41.13-14 for a similar concluding couplet. 

14. blooded: bloodied or smeared with blood — perhaps as a first scent given to a 
hunting dog. 

Monday 11 February: Morning Prayer; Pss. 62-64, Mark 11. Evening Prayer: Pss. 65-67, 2 Cor. 


Sonnet 21 

The sonnet's concern with lustes impure (8) is appropriate for a sonnet written for 

Shrove Tuesday 1 2 February. 

1-4. The painting topos of the opening quatrain is identified more precisely as 
encaustic painting, an ancient technique whereby colors are dissolved in wax 
and then set by fire, by the terms tempred (2), technically the process of soften- 
ing wax by fire, and inure (9), artistically the burning of colors dissolved in wax 
into a surface by fire. The topos and its method correspond exactly to the 

Commentary 15 1 

striking metaphor which opens morning prayer Ps. 68.2 for Tuesday 12 February, 
"like as waxe melteth at the fire." 

1 . utorke of nature or of Art: TT\e question focuses on the contemporary debate 

concerning the place of art and nature in the artistic process. It matches the 
concern of the second lesson at evening prayer, 2 Cor. 8, which questions and 
proves the naturalness of the Corinthians' grace and love, "Therefore proue 1 
the naturalnes of your loue" (v. 8. The Vulgate version, vestrae charitatis ingeni' 
um bonum comprobans, underscores the sonnet's question, because ingenium can 
mean both 1. nature [1] and 2. disposition or temper [2]). 

2. tempred: contains a variety of general and technical significances: 1. in a predomi- 

nantly Neo-Platonic context, mix elements together with one another in proper 
proportion — a sense taken up in mixt by equall part (3); 2. moisten or mix 
elements into a paste; 3. specifically, soften wax by heating (OED 13) ; 4. 
technically and artistically, prepare colors for use in painting by mixing with 
wax dissolved in fire; 5. bring to health, cure, a meaning taken up in recure (1 1). 
feature: 1. the shape or proportions of the face; 2. etymologically, that 
which nature creates, a creature (= factura), and, through its association with 
the Greek Koir\oic„ an artistic creation. 

face: corresponding to the third element of Ps. 68.2, Vulgate version, Sicut 
fluit cera a facie ignis ... a facie Dei = As wax melts before the face of the fire 
. . . before the face of God." 

5. pleasance: Contrast Am. 17.11-12, "the louely pleasance and the lofty pride, / 

cannot expressed be by any art." 
6-14. Proverbial; see Smith, Proverb Lore, 485. See Petrarch, Rime, 154, "Le stelle, 
il cielo e gli elementi a prova." 

6. allure: 1. entice, charm; 2. draw towards, as in her smile me draws (12). 

7. countenance: disyllabic by syncopation. 

9. inure: Spenser elsewhere uses the word (= in + ure = use) only to mean 1. put 
into operation, exercise; or 2. harden through use or discipline (see Am. 14.7 
note). The hardening of the lady's eyes has the effect in line 10, the first of two 
contrasting effects, of setting the poet's life in dismay. 

Here Spenser has also used the word with a different etymology (= in + 
urere = to bum in) in its specific artistic context of encaustic painting. Pliny 
recounts (Nat. Hist.,, "Ceris pingere ac picturam inurere quis 
primus excogitaverit, non constat . . . sed aliquanto vetustiores encaustae 
picturae exstitere . . . quod profecto non fecisset nisi encaustica inventa." (In 
Holland's translation 11601], "As touching the feat of setting colours with waxe, 
and enamelling with fire, who first began and deuised the same, it is not 
knowne. . . .") He also briefly describes the process (, "cerae tingun- 
tur (= tempred in its sense of moisten — see line 2 note) isdem his coloribus ad 
eas picturas, quae inuruntur. . . ."(See 35.1 1.41.149.) 

Since the effect of the eyes of neo-Platonist ladies was to bum out the 
poet's lusts impure, the parallel and contrasting effect of the lady's looks is to 
cure the poet in line 1 1 . 

1 1 . recure: 1 . from re-curare, repair, restore to health — a sense introduced by tempred 
(2); 2. from re-cour = re-cover, possess again, save. 

12. me driues away: In direct imitation of Ps. 68.2, "Like as the smoke vanisheth, so 
shalt thou driue them away." Compare the comfort of Am. 81.7-8, "that cloud 
of pride . . . with smiles she driues away." 

152 Commentary 

13. train: 1. from trahere — draw, draw by art or inducement, allure; 2. instruct, 
discipline, as in inure above. 

14. I neuer read in hookes: Contrast the riposte in the day's second lesson at morning 
prayer, Mark 12.26, "haue ye not red in the boke of Moses." Compare Lynche, 
DieUa, 4.4. "Such eloquence was neuer read in bookes." The sonnet thus 
concludes that the lady's eyes neither belong properly to the realm of art, nor, 
by implication, are they to be read of in the book {of nature). His working of the 
contemporary discussion is not dissimilar to Sidney, AS 71.1-5. 

Tuesday 12 February: Morning Prayer: Ps. 68, Mark 12. Evening Prayer: Pss. 69-70, 2 Cor. 8. 

Sonnet 22 

The sormet, written to celebrate Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent (in 1594, 
Wednesday 13 February), is a loose paraphrase of Desportes' Les Amours de Diane, 
39, "Solitaire et pensif dans un bois ecarte" (see Kastner 67 and Lever 105 ff. for 
detailed comparisons): 

Solitaire et pensif dans un bois ecarte, 

Bien loing du populaire et de la tourbe epesse 

le veux bastir un temple a ma seule Deesse, 

Pour appendre mes voeux a sa divinite. 

La de jour et de nuict par moy sera chante 

Le pouvoir de ses yeux, sa gloire et sa hautesse; 

Et, devot, son beau nom i'invoqueray sans cesse, 

Quand ie seray presse de quelque adversite. 

Mon oeil sera la lampe et la flamme immortelle. 

Qui me va consumant, servira de chandelle: 

Mon corps sera I'autel, et mes souspirs les voeux. 
Par mille et mille vers ie chanteray I'office: 

Puis epanchant mes pleurs, et coupant mes cheveux, 

I'y feray tous les iours de mon coeur sacrifice. 
Lever quotes this version of Desportes' sonnet from the editions of 1573-89; Kastner 
quotes a version which derives from 1611 Rouen edition. The differences are 
minimal: 3 seule: fiere; 9 et la flamme immortelle: ardant continuelle; 10 Qui me va 
consumant, servira de chandelle: Devant I'image saint d'une dame si belle. Certain- 
ly Spenser's sweet Saynt (4) and glorious ymage (6) are closer to the 1611 Rouen 
"I'image saint." The paraphrase has been made to reflect not only the tenor and 
imagery of the special readings for Ash Wednesday, but also the BCP's "Commina- 
tion against Sinners" (which included Ps. 51), appointed for the first day of Lent 
(see Prescott, Spenser's Poetry, 596). 

1. Spenser has substituted for Desportes' opening the occasional reference to Ash 


fit: 1. made, fashioned (with associations of Latin, fit = it is made); 2. 
appropriate, as in fit (4). 

fast: Besides acknowledging the start of the Lenten period, the sonnet's 
opening reflects the day's Epistle, Joel 2.12-18, with its instruction, "Tume you 
vnto me with all your heart, and with fasting" (v. 12), and its call to "sanctifie 
a fast." 

2. ought: the verb opens and closes the Lenten section of the sequence, see Am. 

68.13, "So let vs loue, deare louc, lyke as we ought." 

inclynd: disposed, in the 16th century a synonym for /it {OED 5b). 

Commentary 153 

4. Saynt some seruice fit mil find: The liturgical resolve conforms to the intent of the 

day's second lesson at evening prayer, 2 Cor. 9, in which Paul addresses the 
necessity of "ministring to the Saintes" and concludes, "this seniice . . . suppli- 
eth the necessities of the Saintes" (v. 12; see also morning prayer Ps. 72.11, "all 
nations shall doe him seruice"). 

Saynt: Spenser similarly addresses his betrothed in Am. 61.2 for Palm Sun- 
day, "My souerayne saynt," and in Epith. 208, "For to receyue this Saynt with 
honour dew." He normally uses the address with a Neo-Platonic flavor, e.g., 
Daph. 379-82. (For a fuller discussion, see Bhattacherje 187-88.) 

5. Her temple fayre is built: See headnote, Desportes, Diane, 39.3, "bastir un temple." 

The poet's temple contrasts with the physical temple of stones in the day's 
second lesson at morning prayer, Mark 13.1, "And as he went out of the 
Temple, one of his disciples said vnto him. Master, se what stones, and what 

buyldings are here Seest thou these great buyldings?" The intermingling of 

profane and religious was not uncommon — see Tasso, Rime, 

lo per me vo' ch' anzi I'altar d'Amore 

Le sia in vittima il cor sacra to ed arso. 

Ed or dentro la mente un tempio I'ergo 

Ove sua forma il mio pensier figura 

By omitting to translate the opening two lines of Desportes' sonnet 
Spenser has discarded its motif of solitariness, for which the locus classicus was 
Dante's "selva oscura." (See Petrarch, Rime, 35, "Solo e pensoso i piii deserti 
campi," and 176, "Per mezz' i boschi inospiti e selvaggi.") 

6. ymage: See headnote, Desportes, Diane (Rouen, 1611), 39.10, "I'image saint," 

and its infrequent psalmic use in evening prayer Ps. 73.19, "image." 

7. day and ni^t: See headnote, Desportes, Diane, 39.5. See also evening prayer Ps. 

74.17, "The day is thine, and the night is thine." 

8. lyke sacred priests that neuer thinke amisse: The poet's thoughts will attend the 

lady's image with proper devotion, not like the priests condemned in the day's 
Gospel who bear only outward signs of repentance (Matt. 6.16-22). 

10-11 build an altar I . . . hart will sacrifise: See headnote, Desportes, Diane, 39. 1 1 &d4. 

10. altar to appease her yre: Joel 2.17 calls upon the Old Testament "Priests" to 
"wepe betwene the porche and the altar." As the Israelites were called to offer 
a sacrifice because God is "slowe to angre" (v. 13), so the poet will build an 
altar to appease her yre and, like them, offer a burnt holocaust. 

1 1-12. m> hart ivill sacrifise, I burning in flames of pure and chast desyre: The poet thus 
acknowledges the "Commination against Sinners," Ps. 51.16-17, "For thou 
desirest no sacrifice, els would 1 giue it thee: but thou delightest not in burnt 
offeringes. The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart 
. . . ," as well as the instruction of the Geneva version's sidenote to Joel 2.13, 
"serue God with purenes of heart and not with ceremonies." 

13. O goddesse: See headnote, Desportes, Diane, 39.3, "Deesse." The appellation 
was frequent among the French, see Du Bellay, Olive, 7, 14, 19, 41 & 114. 

Ash Wednesday 13 February: Epistle: Joel 2.12-18. Gospel: Matt. 6.16-22. Morning Prayer: Pss. 

71-72, Mark 13. Evening Prayer: Pss. 73-74, 2 Cor. 9. Commination against Sinners: Ps. 51. 

Sonnet 23 

1 . Penelope: TTie legend of Ulysses and Penelope is not one of Spenser's favorites; 
Ulysses is mentioned by name only in Virgils Gnat, while Penelope's wonder at 

154 Commentary 

his return is commended only in FQ V.vii.39.2. The account of Penelope's web 
is found in Od. 19.137-51 & 24.120-41. 
2. Deuiz'd a Web: Imitating Od. 24.128, "56A.OV . . . |i£p|if|pi^8" {Deuiz'd a Web or 
a deceit). 

Deuiz'd: 1. fashion, arrange; 2. since Deuiz'd derives from dividere, divide, 
take apart {vnreaue [4] (see Am. 19.6). 

web: 1. a woven fabric; the web of Penelope (from Flfivri = woof or web) 
was a work proverbially, 'never ending, always beginning.' Penelope, while 
waiting twenty years for the return of Ulysses, wove a winding sheet for her 
father-in-law Laertes by day and unwove it by night to thwart the importunate 
suitors whose offers she had promised to entertain when the web was complete. 
She became the emblem of a chaste wife, see FQ V.vii.39.2; 2. possibly a 
winding sheet such as Penelope wove for her father-in-law — as in wynd (14); 3. 
when associated with Spyder (13) , a subtly woven snare or entanglement. 

deceaue: 1. ensnare; 2. deceive — see Penelope's intent, Od. 19.137, "ty(b 
bt 56A.ou(; ToXuTievJCo" (1 wind a web of deceits). Spenser has accepted the 
Homeric pun on ToA.U7t8UC0: 1 . wind off the corded wool for spirining; 2. accom- 
plish, bring to end (10). 

4. unreaue: unravel; the only use by Spenser. 

5. subtile: 1. finely woven (sub = under + texla, tela = woven stuff, web [2]); 2. 

ingenious, cleverly devised. 

6. t/i' importune suit: 1. untimely; 2. pressing — like those urged on Penelope, see 

Horace, Odes, 3.10.11, "Penelope difficilis procis," and Claudian, Carm. Min. 
30.31, "Penelope trahat arte procos fallatque." 
7 & 12. in many dayes . . . whole years work: Seemingly less an autobiographical 
detail than an allusion to the references to days and years in morning prayer and 
evening prayer Psalms for Tliursday 14 February, Ps. 77.5, "1 haue considered 
the dayes of olde: and the yeeres that are past," and Ps. 78.33, "their dayes did 
he consume in vanitie: and their yeeres in trouble." Penelope labored for three 

7. weaue: Homer's 0(|)a(va) could mean both to weaue and to deceaue. 

9-10. So when I thinke to end that I begonne, 1 1 must begin and neuer bring to end: In 
exact imitation of Homer, Od. 24.126, " oOt' ixeXexjra" {neuer bring to end). 
The phrase was proverbial, see Smith, Proverb Lore, 605. Compare Scudamour's 
account of the conquest of Amoret, which the "harder may be ended, then 
begonne" (FQ lV.x.3.4). The account of Scudamour arid his "twenty valiant 
Knights" (8.6) seems to allude to the number of years that Ulysses struggled to 
reach Penelope (see Hamilton, Faerie Queene, 497). 

1 1. spils: 1. wastes or spends time or labor fruitlessly {OED 6b); 2. kills, destroys — 
e.g., Am. 49.4. 

13-14. Such labour like the Spyders web I fynd, I whose fruitlesse worke is broken with 
least wynd: contrasts with Penelope's false assurances, Od. 24.133, "[if\ |iOi 
(iExafidivia vfmat ' 6X,r|Tai" (I would not that my web should prove fruitless), 
vfifia was used specifically of a spider's web. 

13. Spyders: In Am. 72 the lady, in her weaving, associates the poet with the spider 
(and herself with the bee), apparently because the letters B and S(P) are the 
initial letters to Boyle and Spenser. 

14. wynd: a homonymic pun; 1. wind, breeze; see evening prayer Ps. 78.40, "they 
were eucn a wind that passeth away"; 2. a winding, weaving (OED. sb. 2.2), as 

Commentary 155 

in Penelope's winding sheet; 3. breath or words — the poet's suit is thus greeted 
with least words or silence. 

Thursday 14 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 75-77, Mark 14. Evening Prayer: Ps. 78, 2 Cor. 10. 

Sonnet 24 

Pandora was sent by Zeus into the world to punish Prometheus for giving fire to 
humans (Hesiod, Theogony, 507-616). Zeus provided her with a box containing 
evils. Spenser has adapted the classical story, because the lady's task is to cleanse 
the fHDet's natural faults. Tlius she is a new Pandora, sent as a scourge to cleanse 
from evil rather than punish with it. Her function as a scourge associates the sonnet 
with a range of incident in the readings for Friday 15 February; their detail suggests 
that Spenser felt little option but to compose for the day a sonnet concerned with 
scourging and beating. 

1. beauties u>or\dermer\t: wonderful beauty; wonderment is a favorite late word of 

Spenser occurring four times among the amoretti (Am. 3, 24, 69, 81). 

2. rare perfection: See Am. 84.13; compare the "rare perfection" of Elizabeth I (FQ 

ll.ii.41.7), who is also identified as Pandora in TM 578. 
rare: 1. uncommon; 2. splendid, fine. 

5. hitter balefull svnart: A common Spenserian alliterative pleonasm, e.g., FQ 


6. vnwares: 1. without warning; 2. unknowingly, either on the part of the lady or 

the poet. 

7. dart: Cupid's arrows are everywhere in the sequence (e.g., Am. 4.8; 8.5-6; 16.4- 

8; 17.9; 24.7; 39.1-4; 57.8). 

8 & 11. new Pandora . . . scourge: Compare the day's second lesson at morning 
prayer, Mark 15.15-20, which recounts in detail the scourging, "when he had 
scourged him," and death of Christ, and the second lesson at evening prayer, 2 
Cor. 11, in which Paul refers repeatedly to his own beatings: "in stripes aboue 
measure" (v. 23), "fiue times receiued 1 fortie stripes saue one" (v. 24), "1 was 
thrise beaten with roddes" (v. 25). 

scourge: 1. whip; 2. person regarded as an instrument of divine vengeance, 
see morning prayer Ps. 79.1 1, "O let the vengeance of thy seruants blood that 
is shed: be openly shewed upon the heathen in our sight." For the link between 
Pandora as a scourge and the day's readings, see Introduction, 33-35. 

9. Whom all the gods in couru:ell: In imitation of Mark 15.1 , where the councell agrees 
to Christ's scourging, "the hie Priests helde a counsel with the Elders, and the 
Scribes, and the whole Council." 

10-11. Compare the mission of the Blattant Beast {FQ Vl.i.8.6-8), "Into this 
wicked world he forth was sent, / To be the plague and scourge of wretched 

14. gently heat: See 2 Cor. 11.25, "1 was thrise beaten with roddes." A somewhat 
risque conclusion. 

Friday 15 February: Moming Pra^ier: Pss. 79-81, Mark 15. Evening Prayer: Pss. 82-85, 2 Cor. 11. 

Sonnet 25 

Sonnet 25 contains more twists of meaning than any other in the sequence, apart 
from Sonnet 6 with which it is associated. TTie cohesion of both sonnets is en- 
hanced by their sustained punning and by words etymologically akin. 

156 Commentary 

1-2. Lyke dying lyfe endure, I . . . mysery: The poet's question is in direct imitation 
of the psalmist's complaint in morning prayer Ps. 88.15 for Saturday 16 Febru- 
ary, "I am in miserie, and like vnto him that is at the point to dye . . . thy 
terrours haue I suffered with a troubled minde." 

endure: As in Am. 6 Spenser is playing with the etymology of endure {in + 
durus = hard) meaning both 1. harden and 2. be sustained continuously. 

3. in terms vnsure: 1. in an unsure state, condition or relationship with another; the 

phrase has a legal flavor; 2. possibly a reference to the poet's language (and 
poems) which remain unsure. 

4. depending: hanging. 

8. to proue your powre: Q)ntrast Paul's comfort received in the second lesson at 

evening prayer, 2 Cor. 12.9, because his "power is made perfite through weak- 

tride: 1. tested, particularly in a legal sense; 2. endured. 

9. hardned hrest: TTie poet's reproving the lady accords with Christ's reproof of the 

apostles in the second lesson at morning prayer, Mark 16.14, "he reproued them 
of their vnbelief and hardnes (= duritiarn) of heart." 

10. a close intent: 1. a secret purpose; 2. but since close was associated with the heart 
because closet was used of the pericardium (see Am. 16.12 & 85.9 notes), 
Spenser may have intended a surgical echo, in + tent = to probe or open up; 
hence a secret opening up or disclosing of the lady's hardned heart. 

shew me grace: Contrasts with the assurance given Paul that "My grace is 
sufficient for thee" (2 Cor. 12.1). 
11-14. Such consolation is commonplace in the volume, e.g., Am. 26, 51, 63, 69 
& Epith. 32-33. 

11. abide: as in Am. 6, abide reflects a variety of meanings all of which are earlier 
facets of the poem: 1. accept; 2. remain with continuously {eruiure (1), tride [8]); 
3. suffer {mysery (2), torment [7]). 

14. meede: reward, recompense. 

Saturday 16 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 86-88, Mark 16. Evening Prayer: Ps. 89, 2 Cor. 12. 

Sonnet 26 

T~he definition of love as sweet-bitter originates with Sappho's 5po(; yX-UKCTtiKpo^ 
(= sweet-bitter). Petrarch {Trionfo del Amore, 3.67-68) renders the phrase, "Vuoi 
veder in un cor diletto e tedio / dolce ed amaro." Spenser often plays with the 
paradox, beginning with Thomalin's Emblem, SC March, "Of Hony and of Gaule 
in loue there is store: / The Honye is much, but the Gaule is more." Yale 616 notes 
that "This is the first of two floral catalogues, symmetrically placed fourth after the 
Ash Wednesday sonnet and fourth before the Easter sonnet." 

The sonnet's paradoxes contrasting the natural (but not emblematic) sweetness 
and bitterness of various trees and flowers mirror the structure of Paul's argument in 
2 Cor. 6.1-11, the Epistle for the First Sunday in Lent, 17 February. Paul lists his 
afflictions in similarly pithy paradoxes linked by "yet": "as deceiuers, and yet true: 
As unknowen, and yet knowen: as dying, and beholde, we hue: as chastened, and 
yet not killed: As sorowing, and yet alway reioycing: as poore, and yet make manie 
riche: as hauing nothing, and yet possessing all things" (vv. 8-10). 

The sonnet contains a series of double entendres on Rose (1), Eglantine I pricketh 
(3), rynd (5), nut I pill (6), and root (8). The sestet can also be construed bawdily. The 

Commentary 157 

suggestive assocations of the bitter/sweet paradox were standard; Whitney's emblem 
165, "Post amara dulcia," for example, reestablishes the paradox's former fescennine 
context in its opening line, "Sharpe prickes preserue the Rose," which is taken 
firom Claudian's fescennine preamble to Epith. Honorii, which identifies the rose's 
pricks with the scratches a new bride might in defense inflict on the face of the 
bridegroom: "Non quisquam . . . / Hyblaeos latebris nee spoliat favos / si fronti 
caveat, si timeat rubos; / Armat spina rosas, mella tegunt apes." (4.7-10). Whitney 
thus adds a genial context to his adage, "None merites sweete, who tasted not the 
sower," a translation of "Dulcia non meruit qui non gustavit amara." 

1. Sweet: Paul also boasts of his suavitate (2 Cor. 6.6; Geneva, "kindnes"). 

Rose; used bawdily of maidenhead, see Shakespeare, AYLI Ill.ii.l 12-3, "He 
that sweetest Rose will find, / Must find loue's prick and Rosalind." 

2. lunipere, but sharpe his hough: See Bart. Angl. 298^, describing the Juniper, "a 

rough tree with prickes, and many small leaues and sharpe." 

3. sweet is the Eglantine, hut pricketh nere: See Turner, Herhall, 1., "TTie 

eglentine is much like the common brere but the leues are swete and pleasant 
to smel to." 

Eglantine: {homacus = needle, aculeus = prickle) the needlework of Am. 71 
is woven about with "fragrant Eglantine"; see SC May 13 & FQ II. v. 29. 4-5, 
"fragrant Eglantine did spred / His pricking armes." 

pricketh: bawdily, copulate. Spenser's etymological play on Eglantine as 
prickle or needle compounds the sexual suggestiveness. 

4. Firbloome: the bloom or exudation of the fir — its "sweet smelling Rosen" (Bart. 

Angl. 2760 — frankincense; see FQ I.i.9.2. 

5. Cypresse: Bart. Angl. 281" recounts that the Cypress is "most sweetest smelling," 

but that its "stocke and leaues ... be sowre." 

rynd: 1. bark; 2. bawdily, see line 6 note, nut & pill. 

6. nut, but bitter is his pill: Compare Bart. Angl. 305 ^'", "The fruit thereof hath a 

harde / rinde without and bitter, and a sweete kemell within." 

pill: peel; nut and pill can be read as references to the testicles — see Shake- 
speare, AYLI Ill.ii.l 10-11. 

7. broome-flowre, but yet sowre enough: See Maplet 34, "Brome . . . of some is called 

Mirica for the bittemesse of his taste." 

8. Moly, but his root is ill: a fabulous herb having a white flower and black root. In 

Od. 10.304, Hermes gives it to Odysseus to protect him from Circe's charms. 
See Ovid, Met. 14.292, "moly vocant superi, nigra radice tenetur." See also 
Davies, Epigrammes, 36.1-2, "Homer of Moly, and Nepenthe sings, / Moly, the 
Gods most soueraigne hearbe diuine." 

root: a possible distant sense of copulation — see Shakespeare, MWW 
IV.i.46, "And that's a good root." 

9-10. See headnote, Thomalin's Embleme, from Plautus, Cistellaria, 1.1.70-71, 
"Namque ecastor Amor et melle et felle est fecundissmus; / Gustui dat dulce, 
amarum ad satietatem usque oggerit." See FQ lV.x.1.2 & Vl.xi. 1.8-9. Chaucer 
has a similar phrase {Rom. R. 2295-6) "For euir of loue the sickemesse / Is meint 
with swete and bittimesse." It became proverbial, see Wilson, The Arte of 
Rhetorike, 30, "Tlie sweete hath his sower ioned with him." 

11-12. Easie things . . . little store: Proverbial, see Smith, Proverb Lore, 363. Compare 
the counsel of HL 167-68, "And hauing got it, may it more esteeme. / For 

158 Commentary 

things hard gotten, men more dearely deeme." A sense of unrelieved — but 
rationalized — physical (and sexual) hardship cannot be discounted. 
13-14. little peine, I that endlesse pleasure shall vnto me gaine: Whitney 165 similarly 
concludes, "So after paines, our pleasures make vs glad, / But without sower, the 
sweete is hardlie had." 

First Sunday in Lent 17 February: Epistle: 2 Cor. 6.1-11. Gospel: Matt. 4.1-12. Morning Prayer: 
Pss. 90-92, Luke 1.1-39. Evening Prayer: Pss. 93-94, 2 Cor. 13. 

Sonnet 27 

The conceit of poetic immortality occurs four times in Amoretti (Am. 69.9-14, 
75.11-14, 82.11-14). Its chief sources include Horace, Odes, 3.30 and 4.8-9, as well 
as Ovid, Amores, 1.15, and the conclusion to Met. 15.871-79. Its biblical analogue 
was the Blessed Virgin's claim in the Magnificat that she would be remembered 
forever after as blessed, "for beholde, from hence forthe shal all ages call me 
blessed." (Luke 1.48, with its Geneva version gloss, "TTiis fauour that God hathe 
shewed me, shalbe spoken of for euer."). The Magnificat was a feature of the second 
lesson at morning prayer for Monday 18 February, Luke 1.40-80. 

1. proud: In the Magnificat the proud are punished, God having "scattered the 

proude in the imagination of their hearts" (Luke 1.51). 

2. drosse uncleane: the surface scum which covers the pure — a popular late word of 

Spenser used particularly in a Neo-Platonic context when contrasted with 
heavenly thoughts (see Am. 13.12, "that hinders heauenly thoughts with drossy 
slime") and "pure-sighted" eyes (see HHL 275-76). 

3. in the shade of death: In direct imitation of Zacharias' prophecy in the Benedictus, 

Luke 1.79, "giue light to them that sit in darkenes, and in the shadowe of 
death" (v. 79). 

shroud: 1. cover, clothe; 2. prepare for burial with a winding sheet; 3. as a 
pleonasm with shade, screen or shade (OED 5). 

4. houi euer nou) thereof ye little u/eene: however inconsequential you now think death 

to be. 

5/8. IdoU I worship: the terms mirror directly morning prayer Ps. 96.5-6, "As for the 
goddes of the heathen, they be but idoles: but it is the Lorde that made the 
heauens. Glorie and worship are before him," and Ps. 97.7, "Confounded bee 
all they that worship carued images, and that delight in vaine gods (Geneva 
version, "that glorie in idoles"): worship him all ye gods" (see Ps. 96.7 & 9). 
gay beseene: finely dressed, adorned. 

9-11. See Ovid, Met. 15.878-79, "perque omnia saecula fama, siquid habent veri 
varum praesagia, vivam." TTie contrast of the fleshly with the immortal echoes 
Ovid's earlier juxtaposition of his "brittle flesh" with his "better part" which 
"assured bee too clyme / Aloft aboue the starry skye. And all the world shall 
neuer / Be able for too quench my name" (Golding, 15.989-91). 

10. mention: the action of commemorating particularly a name by speech or writing, 
c-gi PQ VI. X. 28. 9, where Spenser celebrates a fourth grace, Elizabeth, "To 
future age of her this mention may be made." 

Monday 18 February: Mcmxir^ Prayer: Pss. 95-97, Luke 1.40-80. Evening Prayer: Pss. 98-101. 

Gal. 1. 

Commentary 159 

Sonnets 28 — 33 

Sonnets 28-33 bear no resemblance to the coincident scripture readings for the 
days, Tuesday 19 February to Sunday 24 February. Spenser has written a series of 
five sonnets which are broadly reminiscent of continental exempla, beginning with 
"My loue is lyke to yse," including a "laurell," "bay," and "smith" sonnet, and 
concluding in Sonnet 33 with an apology to Lodowick Bryskett for not having com- 
pleted The Faerie Queene. This last sonnet suggests the companionship and hospitali- 
ty of Bryskett and might infer Spenser's temporary absence from home and books. 

Sonnet 28 

Daphne (5d(j)vri = laurel or bay tree), daughter of the river Peneus, which runs 
through Thessaly, was beloved by Phoebus. She resolved to spend her life a virgin 
and fled from him. Pursued, she sought the protection of the gods and was changed 
into a laurel tree. TTie legend is recounted by Ovid (Met. 1.452-567), where her 
transformation causes her to escape Phoebus. From Petrarch onwards a tradition 
developed in which Daphne is transformed because she refuses to submit. Petrarch 
identifies Laura and the laurel, see Rime, 34.12-14, 

Si vedrem poi per meraviglia inseme 

seder la Donna nostra sopra I'erba 

e far de le sue braccia a se stessa ombra. 

3. badg: an emblem distinguishing the retainers of a noble person. Spenser also bears 

the badge because he is a poet (see Am. 29.7-8). 

4. inclind: When Phoebus embraced the laurel tree, it inclined towards him, see 

Ovid, Met. 1.566-67. 
7. sweet infusion: 1. inpouring, often of a Neo-Platonic tenor, of divine life and grace 
into the heart, see HHB 50; 2. poetic inspiration, e.g., FQ lV.ii.34.6, "infusion 
sweete of [Dan Chaucer's] spirit." 

10. on the Thessalian shore: See Petrarch, Rime, 34.2, "a le tesaliche onde." 

11. in theyr reuengefull yre; a Spenserian addition to the myth. 

12. transform: an echo of Ovid, Met. 1.547, "mutando . . . figuram." 

14. leaf: 1. laurel leaf; 2. homonymically, life, beloved, as in the phrase "lief and 
love" {OED 4b; see Col 16); 

errxbrace: as Apollo embraced the tree: "complexusque suis ramos" (Ovid, 
Met. 1.555; Golding 1.681, "in his armes embracing fast"). Ovid also uses the 
laurel as an emblem of sexual conquest, e.g., Amores, 2.12.1-2. 

Tuesday 19 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 102-3, Luke 2. Evening Prayer: Ps. 104, Gal. 2. 

Sonnet 29 

The sonnet continues the laurel conceit of the preceding sonnet by contrasting its 
double function of crowning both victor and poet. 

1. depraue: {de + pravus = crooked) 1. distort, make crooked my simple (= straight- 

forward) meaning; 2. corrupt my simple (=honest) meaning. 

2. simple; 1. unadorned; 2. without guile, honest; 3. poor. 

disdaynfull scome: a typical Spenserian pleonasm. 

5. of the victours borne: The Roman general in triumphal processions wore a laurel 

9. conquest: 1. spoils of war; 2. the gaining of a lady's affections or hand. 

160 Commentary 

1 1 . triumph: suggesting the Roman triumph in which the victorious general led in 
procession the spoils of war — see Epith. 243. 

which my skill exceeds: 1. which is greater than my skill; 2. which my skill 
is greater than. 

12. trump of fame: see Am. 85.13, "Fame in her shrill trump shall thunder." 

blaze: 1. proclaim with a trumpet; 2. blazon, describe heraldically; 3. 
publish. Tlie bay was impervious to the lightning's blaze. 
14. her victorious prayse: 1. praise of the victorious lady; 2. the poet's victorious 
praise of the lady. 

Wednesday 20 February: Morning Prayer: Ps. 105, Luke 3. Evening Prayer: Ps. 106, Gal. 3. 

Sonnet 30 

Spenser has written for Thursday 2 1 February a more mannered sonnet than many 

in the sequence. It is a good specimen of the source problem that Amoretti poses. 

Tlie contraries of ice and fire were a common topos among sonneteers and searching 

Petrarch or his heirs for exact antecedents to Sonnet 30 produces no satisfactory 

outcome. In any case Spenser makes of the conceit his own piece of artifice. 

1. ice . . . fire: Renwick 199 cites Cazza, Rime Scelte di Diversi Autori (1587) 517, 

Scott, Sonnets Elizahethains, 170 cites Watson, Hecatompathia, 43 and Seraphin, 

whom Watson himself cites, as possible sources of the sonnet. The original 

exemplum was Petrarch, Rime, 202, "D'un bel, chiaro, polito e vivo ghiaccio / 

move la fiamma che m'incende e strugge," but the conceit is frequent in 

Petrarch, e.g.. Rime, 182 & 153.1, "Ite, caldi sospiri, al freddo core, / rompete 

il ghiaccio. ..." 

6. delay d: tempered, assuaged. 

7. boyling: Yale 618 suggests a pun here on Elizabeth Boyle's name, ling being a 


sweat: 1. perspiration; 2. homonymically and for rhyme, sweet; 3. life-blood 
{OED 1), opposed to sencelesse cold (11) and course (14 see note). 

12-14. kindle . . . kynd: an etymological word-game, through the secondary meaning 
of kindle, to give birth to (see Am. 6.3 & 6 notes); the word-game is compound- 
ed by gentle (13), from gens = race, kynd. 

14. course of kynd: 1. course of nature, the altering of which constitutes a miraculous 
thing (9); 2. homonymically, corse = corpse, dead body, as in senceless cold (10). 

Thursday 21 February: Morning Prayer: Ps. 107, Luke 4. Evening Prayer: Pss. 108-9, Gal. 4. 

Sonnet 31 

Spenser's advice in FQ Vl.viii.2.1-6 to "gentle Ladies," which contrasts their 
natural tenderness with the results of proud hardheartedness, is relevant to the 

And as ye soft and tender are by kynde, 

Adomd with goodly gifts of beauties grace, 

So be ye soft and tender eeke in mynde; 

But cruelty and hardnesse from you chace, 

That all your other praises will deface, 

And from you tume the loue of men to hate. 
1, hard a hart: Am. 18, 20, 32, 51, 54 are further variations on the lady's hardness 
of heart. The locus classicus was Petrarch, Rime, 265.1-4: 

Commentary 161 

Aspro core e selvaggio cruda voglia 

in dolce, umile, angelica figura, 

se I'impreso rigor gran tempo dura, 

avran di me poco onorata spoglia. 
Petrarch's "selvaggio" (= savage, wild) and "cruda" (= not gentle, but 
also, as a substitute for crudele, = cruel, and through its associative cruento, = 
bloody) establish the contrast with Laura's "angelica figura." In Rime, 152 her 
"forma d'angel" is contrasted with a "cor di tigre o d'orsa." Spenser's working 
the conceit is scarcely new. 

2. goodly gifts of beauties grace: See headnote, FQ Vl.viii.2.2. 

3. depraues: 1. etymologically, makes crooked (de + pravus = crooked); 2. perverts, 

corrupts (see Am. 29.1-2). The word is seldom used by Spenser and occurs here 
in two sonnets close together. 

4. ornaments: see Am. 53.10, "the worlds most ornament"; the sonnet shares the 

image of bloody beasts with Am. 53. 

deface: doth deface; Spenser often deletes the expletive, e.g., FQ l.iii.5.5. 
See headnote, FQ Vl.viii.2.5. 1. ravage, destroy {de-facere = unmake); 2. mar 
the face (de-facies = unface); 3. outface, outshine (OED v. 5), as do the counte- 
nances of bloody beasts (see Am. 53). 
6. dreadfull countenaunce: See Am. 53.3. 

9. her louely hew: See Am. 53.6. louely; both beautiful and loving. 

hew: 1. form, figure, particularly of a Neo-Platonic variety; 2. complexion 
or color; see Am. 3.8 note. 

10. t/irougfi sweet allurement: See Am. 53.7. 
12. embrew: stain; see Am. 53.11. 

Friday 22 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 110-13, Luke 5. Evening Prayer: Pss. 114-115, Gal. 5. 

Sonnet 32 

The sonnet bears some resemblance to the battle, with its sexual undertones, 
between Artegall and Radigund in FQ V.v.7.6-8.2: 

Like as a Smith that to his cunning feat 

The stubbome mettall seeketh to subdew, 

Soone as he feeles it mollifide with heat. 
With his great yron sledge doth strongly on it beat. 

So did Sir Artegall vpon her lay. 

As if she had an yron anduile beene. 

1. paynefull: 1. painstaking, careful; 2. since Spenser is the smith, full of suffering. 

smith: see FQ IV. v. 35. 6, where Care is a blacksmith. 
feruent: glowing. 

2. hardest yron: through its association with adamant (dibdnxoiC, = hardest iron) it 

retains the sense of inflexible, unyielding (even, figuratively, in love; see Am. 
42.10 note). 

rrwllify: 1. of iron, make soft; the smith and the artist who mollifies metal 
are linked by Horace, Ars Poet. 32-33, "faber imus . . . moUes imitabitur aere 
capillos" (see Am. 17.13 note); 2. of hearts, make tender; see headnote, FQ 
V.v.7.8 & FQ V.viii. 1.8-9, "with melting pleasaunce moUifye / Their hardned 

162 Commentary 

yron: Compare the first lesson at morning prayer for Saturday 23 February, 

Deut. 4.20, "But the Lord hathe taken you and broght you out of the yron 

fomace" — one of only a few occasions in the sequence when a sonnet shows 

some correspondence with a first lesson at morning prayer, see Am. 66. 
4. apply: 1. etymologically (Lat. plicare), twist or shape; 2. accompanying use; in line 

12 only the sense of attached is retained. 
5-6. cannot . . . soft awhit: cannot soften at all. 
7. playnts: 1. laments; 2. the sense of a complaint or poem, which the lady spurns, 

is also present. 
9. fit: 1. a frenzy, particularly a (painful) feverish trance anticipating death (see RT 

598); 2. a section of a poem or song as in playnts (7); see Am. 33.1 1 note. 
11. smit: recalls the srruth (1); compare the second lesson at morning prayer, Luke 

6.29, "that smiteth thee " 

13-14. ashes . . . frosen: The ashes suggest the floor of the now-cold forge, while 

frosen suggests the hardening again of the iron after its hot forging. 
14. stones: See Am. 54.14. Compare morning prayer Ps. 119.25 (Vulgate), Adhaesit 

pavinxento {anima mea), where pavimentum primarily connotes a floor of "beaten 

Saturday 23 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 116-18, Luke 6. Evening Prayer: Ps. 119.1-32, Gal. 

Sonnet 33 

The sonnet's reference to the yet-to-be-completed The Faerie Queene has been 
variously used to throw light on Spenser's overall intent and plan for the work. TTie 
date for which the sonnet was written, Sunday 24 February 1594, when combined 
with the reference in Sonnet 80 (for Tuesday 7 May) to the work's "six books," 
confirms Spenser's on-going intention to advance the work towards further comple- 

1. Great wrong: Compare morning prayer Ps. 119.67 for 24 February, "Before I was 

troubled, 1 went wrong." 

2. my dear dred: the object of awe and reverence; in FQ Elizabeth I is thus addressed 

in four out of six Proems. 

3. faery: trisyllabic. 

4. enlarge: 1. magnify; 2. set at large, discharge (the sense Spenser normally attrib- 

utes to the word, see FQ Il.v.18.3). 

5. ludwick: Lodowick Bryskett, an intimate of Spenser and his superior when 

Spenser was Clerk of the Council of Munster. Bryskett presents Spenser as a 
respected friend in his A Discourse of Ciuill Life and attributes to Spenser's 
mouth an apology for his unfinished ''Faerie Queene" together with his inten- 
tion to complete the work. ("Which work, as 1 haue already well entred into, if 
God shall please to spare me life that I may finish it according to my mind, your 
wish (M. Bryskett] will be in some sort accomplished, though perhaps not so 
effectually as you could desire" [Bryskett, A Discourse of Ciuill Life (1606) 27].) 
Bryskett had accompanied Philip Sidney in his travels and is identified as 
Thestylis by his elegy, The Mourning Muse of Thestylis, in the Astrophel collec- 
tion. Sec Col 156. 

to me aread: 1. counsel or instruct, "leame of me" (see line 10 note, 
taedious toyle). In FQ 1. Pr.1.7 the Muse similarly counsels Spenser: "Me, all too 
meane, the sacred Muse areeds"; 2. divine the meaning of obscure words, solve 

Commentary 163 

a riddle {OED 5) — looking forward to the challenge of the personal pun in- 
volved in rudely writ (8). 
8. rudely writ: a pun on Bryskett's pseudonym: Thestylis = 9f|c; = rustic, rude + 
OTuXog = writing. Bryskett, in his "Pastorall Aeglogue vpon the death of Sir 
Phillip Sidney" in the Astrophel collection, refers to his own verses as "rude 
rymes" (35). 

10. taedious toyle: Spenser has made his sonnet reflect the readings, not for the 2nd 
Sunday in Lent, which in 1594 fell on 24 February, but for the feast of St. 
Matthias, whose date 24 February was. (Normally the feast would have been 
transferred to the closest following open day, the subsequent Monday.) The 
weariness his laboring on FQ has caused him, and his final prayer to grawnt me 
rest (13), acknowledge the relief promised in the Gospel for St. Matthias, Matt. 
11. 28-30: "Come vnto me, all ye that are wearie and laden, and 1 will ease you. 
Take my yoke on you, and leame of me . . . and ye shal finde rest vnto your 

11. troublous fit: See line 1 note, Ps. 119.67, "Before I was troubled." 

fit: as in Am. 32: 1. troubled feverishness; 2. a poem or section of a poem, 
e.g., FQ VIl.vii.3.3; see Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie 41: "This Epith' 
alamie was deuided by breaches into three partes to seme for three seuerall fits 
or in times to be song"; hence this poem, which is troubling and preventing me 
from dedicating myself to a further section (fit) of FQ. 
13. Ceasse then: Compare the second lesson at evening prayer, Eph. 1.16, "1 cease 
not to giue thankes for you." See Am. 78.13. 

grawnt me rest: see Matt. 11.29, "ye shal finde rest vnto your soules." 

Sunday 24 February, Second Sunday in Lent: Epistle: 1 Thess. 4.1-5. Gospel: Matt. 15.21-28. 
St. Matthias: Epistle: Acts 1.15-26. Gospel: Matt. 11.25-30. Morning Prayer: Ps. 119.33-72, Luke 
7. Evening Prayer: Ps. 119.73-104, Eph. 1. 

Sonnet 34 

A favorite Spenserian conceit, the locus classicus being Petrarch's "Passa la nave 

mia" (Rim£, 189). Spenser's sonnet is his own and not a 'galley' sonnet such as 

Wyatt's translation, "My galley charged with forgetfulness." He employs the 

opening simile in various forms 6 times; see TM 141 & FQ 111. iv. 53. 3-4, 

V.ii.50.1, Vl.iv.1.1, VI.xi.1.1 (for an identical line). 

1-3. Lyke as a ship . . . storrr\e: the topos exactly matches the episode, recounted in 
the second lesson at morning prayer for Monday 25 February, Luke 8.22-23, 
"And it came to passe on a certeine day, that he went into a ship with his disciples, 
and there came downe a storme . . . and they . . . were in ieopardie." 

2. conduct: guidance. 

4/10. guyde I the lodestar of my lyfe: A possible echo of morning prayer Ps. 1 19.105, 
"Thy worde is a lanteme (Vulgate, lucema = lantern, guide or lodestar) vnto my 
feete: and a light vnto my pathes"; see lodestar {OED 2), which cites Douglas, 
The xiii bukes of Enneados (1513) Prologue, 8, "Lanteme, leid steme, mirrour." 

4. course: Compare the second lesson at evening prayer, Eph. 2.2, "in time past ye 
walked, according to the course of this worlde." Whitney 137 associates the 
endangered ship with the constant man and storms with the world. 

astray: Similiar to evening prayer Ps. 119.176, "I haue gone astray." 

6. direct: 1. guide; 2. etymologically, make a course straight {di + regere) and hence 
contrasting with wander (4 & 7). 

164 Commentary 

9. Yet hope I ivell: TTie poet's hope is for a calm similar to that wrought by Christ, 

who "rebuked the winde, and the waues of water: and they ceased, and it was 
cabne" (Luke 8.24). 

10. Helice: 1. the Greater Bear, see Ovid, Fasti 3.107-8: "Esse duas Arctos ... 
Helicen Graia carina notet." Ovid (Met. 13.293) notes that the constellation — 
in the northern hemisphere — never sets; 2. a possible play on Elizabeth Boyle's 
name, if Helice is read as Elis. TTie constellation was popular with Petrarch, see 
Rime, 33.2. 

lodestar: Spenser elsewhere associates lodestar with heavenly knowledge, 
e.g., TM 495, while Amoret is described as the "Lodestarre of all chaste affec- 
tione" (FQ 
11-12. looke on me at last, I with louely light: In imitation of morning prayer Ps. 
119.135, "She we the light of thy countenance vpon thy seruant." 

13. carefull: 1. full of care, worry; 2. full of love — with a pseudo-etymological play 
on cams = dear, beloved (see Am. 1.14 note). 

comfortlesse: The poet's state persists despite the counsel of Luke 8.48, "Be 
of good comfort." 

14. secret: Relief from the poet's burden is intimated by Christ's maxim, Luke 8.17, 
"For nothing is secret, that shal not be euident; nether any thing hid, that shal 
not be knowen, and come to light." 

Monday 25 February: Morning Prayer: Ps. 119.105-144, Luke 8. Evening Prayer: Ps. 119.145-176, 
Eph. 2. 

Sonnet 35 

Sonnet 35 is repeated later in the sequence as Sonnet 83 with a single verbal 
change (6, hauing it (Am. 35): seeing it (Am. 83). 

The sonnet is a fine example of Spenser's syncretic ability to encapsulate and 
reshape a wide variety of coinciding biblical and classical sources into a poem. 
Firstly the sonnet corresponds with the detail in the second lesson at morning prayer 
for TTiursday 26 February, Luke 9, which contains the accounts of Christ's feeding 
the hungry multitude and the transfiguration. As well, Spenser has recalled the 
classical topos of Narcissus, drawing on Golding's translation of Ovid, Met. 13.339- 
510, especially Narcissus' exclamation, "inopem me copia fecit." (For Spenser's use 
of the Narcissus myth, see Edwards 63ff.) Finally, the later part of the sonnet, with 
its lowly estimation of the world, owes much to the judgement that Spenser 
provides Meliboe in his discourse on the quiet life (FQ VI. ix. 20-30). The relevant 
lines and phrases of the conversation between Meliboe and Calidore are: "That 
hauing small, yet doe 1 not complaine / Of want, ne wish for more it to augment, / 
But doe my self, with that I haue, content (20.3-5) . . . drinke of euery brooke (23.9) 
. . . youth in vaine (25.4) . . . the knight with greedy eare . . . was rapt with double 
rauishment, / Both of his speach that wrought him great content, / And also of the 

obiect of his vew, / On which his hungry eye was alwayes bent (26.4-7) That all 

this worlds gay showes, which we admire, Be but vaine shadowes (27.4-5) . . . 
behold / The glorie of the great (28.1-2) ... in greatest store" (30.4). 
1-2. M)i hungry eyes through greedy couetize I still to behold the obiect of their paine: An 
adaptation of Golding's rendering, 3.546, "With greedie eyes he gazeth still 
vppon the falced face," of Ovid, Met. 3.439, "spectat inexpleto mendacem 
lumine formam"; Spenser has even copied Golding's gratuitous still, included by 
both poets for metrical pur(K>8e8. Sec also headnote, FQ VI.ix.26.7 and 26.1. 

Commentary 165 

Spenser has also transferred the "hunger" of Luke 9 to the eyes; eyes then finds 
a correspondence in the parallel openings of morning prayer Ps. 121, "I will lift 
vp mine eyes vnto the hilles," and Ps. 123, "Vnto thee lift I vp mine eyes." 

2. behold: See headnote, FQ VI.ix.30.4. 

obiect of their paine: See headnote, FQ VI.ix.26.6. The cause of the poet's 
pain, as for Narcissus, is the face of the lady. 
paine: 1. suffering; 2. punishment. 

3. contentment: See headnote, FQ Vl.ix.20.5. 

suffize: found neither in Golding's translation nor Meliboe's speech, but a 
clear echo of Luke 9.17, where the crowd "did all eat, and were satisfied" 
(Vulgate, saturati sunt, in the parallel synoptic passages, "suffized" [see Matt. 
14.20 & Mark 8.81). 

4. but hauingpine: imitating Golding, 3.554, "That hath so pinde (Ovid, "tabuerit") 

away as I." 

hauing not complaine: See headnote, FQ Vl.ix.20.3. 

5. gaze on it the more: See headnote, FQ VI. ix. 20.4. 

7. Narcissus: Rather than the substance which cast the shadow. Narcissus loved the 

shadow itself and thus starved. Spenser alludes to the fact in FQ lll4i.44.4-6, 
where Britomart compares herself to ''Cephisus foolish child" and explains that 
she does "feed on shadowes, whiles 1 die for food." 

vaine: imitating Ovid's epithet, "credule" (Met. 3.432); 1. idle; 2. foolish. 
See headnote, FQ VI.ix.25.4. Spenser elsewhere describes Narcissus as "foolish 
Narcisse" {FQ; see Golding, 3.535, "foolish elfe"). 

amazement: 1. confusion; 2. infatuation (see Am. 16.3 note). Like the 
"amazement" of Narcissus the disciples "were all amased" (Luke 9.43; Vulgate, 
Stupebant) at Christ's curing of the possessed man. See Golding, 3.516-17. The 
descriptions of the amazement in the Vulgate and Ovid coincide: Vulgate, 
"Stupebant autem omnes . . . omnibusque mirantibus in omnibus quae faciebat"; 
Ovid,Met.3.418-24,"Adstupet . . . cunctaque miratur, quibus est mirabilis ipse." 

8. so plenty makes me poore: a translation of Ovid's, "inopem me copia fecit" (Met. 

3.466), which Golding renders "my plentie makes me poore" (3.582). It became 
proverbial (see Smith, Proverb Lore, 619) and was a favorite adage of Spenser's, 
who made it the emblem to SC Sept., 261, with its gloss. 

This is the saying of Narcissus in Ouid. For when the foolishe boye by 
beholding hys face in the brooke, fell in loue with his owne likenesse: and 
not hable to content him selfe with much looking thereon, he cryed out, 
that plentye made him poore, meaning that much gazing had bereft him 
of sence. 

The proverb is also used to describe the fourth deadly sin, greed or covet- 
ousness, in FQ I. iv. 29. 3-4. 
10. brooke: See headnote, FQ Vl.ix.23.9; 1. they enjoy nothing else; 2. particularly 
of food, they can find nourishment in nothing else; 3. figuratively, endure (12), 
as in the saying, 'they could stomach nothing else.' 
12. can no more endure on them to looke: During Christ's transfiguration the disciples 
could not bear to look upon his glory. TTie effect is used in FQ to illustrate the 
splendor of Dame Nature's face: the disciples, "When they their glorious Lord 
in strange disguise / Transfigur'd sawe; his garments so did daze their eyes." The 
glory was such "That eye of wight could not indure to view." (VIl.vii.6.5 and 

166 Commentary 

13-14. All this worlds ^ry seemth vayne to me, I and al their showes but shadowes: See 
headnote, FQ VI. ix. 27. 4-5. In direct imitation of Christ's maxim in the second 
lesson at morning prayer about the vainness of the world, "what auantageth it 
a man, if he winne the whole worlde, and destroye him self" (Luke 9.25; Am. 
17.3, "this worlds worthlesse glory," finds an identical correspondence with the 
parallel verse, Mark 8.36). 

14. shadowes: At the transfiguration the true glory of Christ was covered by shadow 
("there came a cloude and ouershadowed them" ILuke 9.34; Vulgate, obuvnbravit 
eos]). By contrast Narcissus saw the shadow and thought it the true substance 
(Ovid, Met. 3.434, "quam cemis, imaginis umbra est"). 

Tuesday 26 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 120-125, Luke 9. Evening Prayer: Pss. 126-131, Eph. 3. 

Sonnet 36 

I . Tell me . . . woes: The lament corresponds directly with Christ's condemnation of 

various cities that rejected him in the second lesson at morning prayer for 
Wednesday 27 February, Luke 10.12-13, "I say to you ... Wo be to thee, 
Chorazin: wo be to thee, Beth-saida." 

3. pining: See Ami. 59-60, "So now I languish, till he please / my pining anguish to 


languor: 1. woeful plight or imprisonment; 2. sickness. 

5per\d: 1. wear out; 2. pay out for a purchace (3), see the payment provided 
by the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.35, "spendest." 

4. aswagement: 1. mitigation, softening; 2. an assuaging medicine, a lenitive (for the 

preceding languor — such as the Good Samaritan poured into the wounds of the 
thieves' victim in Luke 10.34; the other occasion when Spenser uses the word 
also intends medicine [FQ VI. v. 40. 4].) 
5-8. A Petrarchist commonplace, e.g., Petrarch, Rime, 150.1-4: 

"Che fai alma? che pensi? avrem mai pace? 

avrem mai tregua? od avrem guerra etema?" 

"Che fia di noi, non so, ma in quel ch 'io scema 

a' suoi begli occhi il mai nostro non piace." 

5. peace: TTie poet's inability to obtain peace contrasts with the Lucan greeting, 

"Peace be to this house," and its approval of "the sonne of peace," upon whom 
"your peace shal rest" (Luke 10.5-6). 

6. make agreement with her thrilling eyes: An identical trucial thought to Am. 12.1-2. 

Contrast the eyes' happiness in Luke 10.23, "Blessed are the eyes, which se that 
ye se." 

thrilling: 1. eyes that pierce; 2. as a substitute for 'thralling,' eyes that 
capture or enthrall. 
9. shewed: disyllabic. 

all extremityes: 1 . utmost severities; 2. extremes which exclude the mean or, 
by transference, moderation. 

II. whose lyfe . . . ye despyse: The complaint imitates Christ's in Luke 10.16, "he 
that despiseth you, despiseth me: and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that 
sent me." 

Wednefday 27 February: Moming Prayer: Pss. 132-135, Luke 10. Evening Prayer: Pss. 136-138, 
Ephcs. 4. 

Commentary 167 

Sonnet 37 

1 & 14. golden tresses & fetters, though they golden bee: Proverbial, see Smith, Proverb 
Lore, 258, and a Petrarchist commonplace. Compare FQ V.viii.1.7, "wrapt in 
fetters of a golden tresse," in a passage from which Am. 39 also draws (see Am. 
39.7-8 note). 

golden tresses: 1. locks of golden hair; 2. because the suns rays were termed 
tresses, particularly golden tresses, the notion of the sun's rays dazzling the looker 
persists throughout the poem. 

1. guyle: Tlirough the saying, 'Fickle under her lock' — to have guile in her head — 

hair and guile were commonly associated. 

2. net: 1. a fine mesh used confining the hair; 2. a snare or trap. 

4. heare: Spenser evidently intends that its homonym 'hear' be suggested by told. 

5-8. The second quatrain imitates exactly the dominant feature of Pss. 140, 141 & 
142 at both morning and evening prayer for Thursday 28 February, the casting 
of the eyes as "snares," "trappes" and "nettes." The final verses to Ps. 141.9- 
11 associate all three images with the eyes: "But mine eyes looke vnto thee. 

Keepe me from the snare which they haue layde for mee: and from the 

trappes of the wicked doers. Let the vngodly fall into their owne nettes together: 
and let me euer escape them." (See Ps. 140.5, "The proude haue layed a snare 
for me, and spred a net abroade with cordes: yea, and set trappes in my way," 
and Ps. 142.3, "in the way wherein 1 walked, haue they priuily laid a snare for 
me.") The general theme of guile and ambush matches the wider motif of 
entrapment of the day's second lesson at morning prayer, Luke 1 1, as the scribes 
and pharisees were "laying wait for him [Christl" (v. 54). 

7. being caug/it rrmy craftily enfold: See FQ II. i. 4. 1-5. 

enfold: 1. capture; 2. plait (as in the Geneva version's stricture not "to 
folde" the hair, 1 Tim. 2.9, sidenote). 

9. Take heed therefore, myne eyes: The caution directly imitates Christ's admonition 

in Luke 11. 34-35: "The light of the bodie is the eye Take hede therefore, 

that the light which is in thee, be not darkenes." The formula is repeated in the 
day's second lesson at evening prayer, Eph. 5.15, "Take hede therefore, that ye 
walke . . . not as fooles." 

12. bands: 1. chains, fetters; 2. fillets which confine the hair. 

13. Fondnesse: 1. foolishness (see line 9 note, Eph. 5.15, "fooles"); 2. affection; 3. 
the implied sense of beguilement towards an ambush (OED v 4b) is probably 
also intended (see FQ lll.i.10.8 & IV.x.24.8). 

Thursday 28 February: Morning Prayer: Pss. 139-141, Luke 11. Evening Prayer: Pss. 142-143, 
Ephes. 5. 

Sonnet 38 

1 . Arion: Tlie sonnet is constructed around Ovid's account of the myth of Arion 
{Fasti, 2.79-118), who, having jumped into the sea to deliver himself from the 
hands of a crew of merciless pirates, charmed a dolphin with his harp, and was 
carried to safety. Spenser alludes to the myth in the epithalamial passage 
recounting the marriage of the Thames and Medway {FQ lV.xi.23). His use of 
the myth here matches the harp (lute) and its association with deliverance from 
water in morning prayer Ps. 144 for Friday 1 March, "deliuer me, and take me 
out of the great waters, from the hand of strange children. ... I will sing . . . 
prayses vnto thee vpon a ten stringed Lute" (vv. 7-9). 

168 Commentary 

wracke: 1. wreck; 2. piin, as in "rack and min"; 3. wracke, through its 
homonym rack, suggests the storm clouds which the tempest racks up (see Am. 
46.12 note). 

2. greedy: in Ovid's account it is the pirate crew who are greedy. 

3. harp: see the recurrent image of the stringed instrument in evening prayer Ps. 

147.7, "Sing praises vpon the harpe"; Ps. 149.3, "with Tarbret and Harpe"; Ps. 
150.3, "vpon the Lute and Harpe." Coverdale uses 'harp' and 'lute' inter- 
changeably for psalterium. and cithara: psalterium becoming "Lute" in Ps. 144.9 
and "Harpe" in Ps. 149.3, while cithara becomes "Harpe" in Ps. 147.7 &. Ps. 
150.3; in Ovid Arion's instrument is the cithara, "ille sedens citharamque tenet" 
(Fasti, 2.115). 

4. from death to ease: Contrast the rich man's resolve in the second lesson at 

morning prayer, Luke 12.19, to "hue at ease." 
5-6. musick ... / ... dainty eares: See FQ IV.xi.23.2 & 5, "dainty musicke . . . 

dainty: 1. delicate — in contrast to the poet's rude musick (5); 2. the sense 
of worthy (the etymon of dainty is dignitatem = worth) cannot be discounted. 

5. skill: expertise in music (Ovid's arte [Fasti, 2.96]) — used also of Orpheus' music in 

Am. 44.8. 

7. the dreadfull ternpest . . . appease: See Fasti, 2.116, "aequoreas carmine mulcet (= 

appease) aquas." 

8. Dolphin: here, seemingly, a device betokening pride or anger; the dolphin 

customarily indicated guile. 

10. decayse: loses strength, dies (see FQ; see Ps. 144.14, "That there be no 
decay" — an infrequent biblical term and confined here to Coverdale's translation. 

11. can it saue or spill, I to spill were pitty, but to saue were prayse: The phrase was 
proverbial — see Smith, Proverb Lore, 265 and Spenser's definition of Mercy, 
"As it is greater prayse to saue, then spill" (FQ V.x.2.8; see Am. 49.4). 

spill: kill, destroy. 

Friday 1 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 144-46, Luke 12. Evening Prayer: Pss. 147-50, Ephes. 6. 

Sonnet 39 

1-2. Sweet smile ... mothers: Spenser's favorite Homeric epithet, (()iXomi.ei5Tl (; 
' A<t»po5(Tri (loving-to-smile Venus; see Homer Od. 8.362, II. 3.424, and Hymn, 
5.65 & 155); see FQ lV.x.47.8, "Mother of laughter," Ana. 33, "his mother 
closely smiling" and Am. 17.10. In FQ IV. Pr.5.5-8 Venus, the "sweete smyling 
Mother," prompted by her son, bestows from heaven "drops of melting loue / 
Deawd with ambrosiall kisses." 

The epithet likely corresponds to the uncommon concluding verse (a direct 
translation of the Hebrew and not in the Vulgate) of morning prayer Psalm for 
Saturday 2 March, Ps. 2.12, "Kisse the sonne least he be angrie." In the sonnet 
the smiles of Venus are used to temper angry loue (3). See also v. 4: "He that 
dwclleth in heauen shal laugh them to scome (Vulgate, irridebit): the Lord shal 
haue them in derision." 

4. thuruiring dart: thundering Jove ('Jove tonans' or Z€v3<; PpovTafo(;)-, the tradition- 
al epithet from Homer onwards. 

7-8. melting plesance . . . hart robbing gladnesse: Contrast the emasculating effect that 
"beauties louely baite" can have on mighty warriors (FQ V.viii. 1.6-9): 

Commentary 169 

Drawne with the powre of an heart-robbing eye, 
And wrapt in fetters of a golden tresse, 
That can with melting pleasaunce moUifye 
Tlieir hardned hearts . . . 
7-10. TTie trance recalls the heavenly rapture, to which Paul alludes in the second 
lesson at evening prayer, Phil. 1.22-23, "what to chose 1 know not. For I am 
greatly in doute on bothe sides, desiring to be losed (Vulgate, desiderium habens 
dissolvi = melting) and to be with Christ, which is beste of all." See Petrarch, 
Rime, 193.1-8, lines also indebted to Paul's vision in Phil. 1.22 (&. 2 Cor. 12.2), 
particularly "ratto per man d'amor, ne so ben dove" (the equivalent of Paul's "I 
know not"). 

Pasco la mente d'un si nobil cibo 
ch' ambrosia e nettar non invidio a Giove; 
che, sol mirando, oblio ne 1' alma piove 
d'ogni altro dolce, e Lete al fondo bibo. 

Talor ch' odo dir cose e 'in cor describo 
per che da sospirar sempre ri trove, 
ratto per man d'Amor, ne so ben dove, 
doppia dolcezza in un volto delibo; 

7. melting: See line 1 note, FQ IV. Pr.5.5. 

8. hart robbing gladnesse: F12, hart'Tobbing. 

9. rapt: See lines 7-10 note, Petrarch, Rime, 193.7, "ratto." 

ioy: See Phil. 1.18, "and I therein ioye; yea, and with ioye. . . ." 
heauenly madnes: different from the poetic "heauenly fury" of Am. 85.11. 

13. Nectar or Ambrosiall meat: See lines 7-10 note, Petrarch, Rime, 193.2, "ambrosia 
e nettar." 

14. / did eat: Luke 13, the day's second lesson at morning prayer, concludes a series 
of metaphors by asserting that, although some may search for the kingdom of 
God claiming "we haue eaten and drunke in thy presence" (v. 26), it will be 
others who "shal sit at table in the kingdome of God" (v. 29). 

Saturday 2 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 1-5, Luke 13. Evening Prayer: Pss. 6-8, Phil. 1. 

Sonnet 40 

Sonnet 40 continues to concern itself with the lady's smile but shifts the principal 

locus of its mythical comparison from Venus to Hero. 

1. Mark: observe. Compare the word's infrequent biblical use in the second lesson 
at morning prayer for Sunday 3 March, the Third Sunday in Lent, Luke 14.7, 
"he marked how they chose out the chief roumes." 

amiable: 1. friendly (French, amiable); 2. or worthy to be loved (French, 

1. lyken: The comparatio is a stock Spenserian device; lyken introduces a dispersed 
polyptoton, Lykest (5), likewise (13). 

3-4. each eyelid . . . I an hundred Graces: Tlie topos of the eyelid corresponds exactly 
to the striking feature of morning prayer Ps. 11.5, "his eye lids tryeth the 
children of men." E. K.'s gloss to SC June, 25, explains "that in Heroes eyther 
eye there satte a hundred graces. And by that authoritye, thys same Poete in his 
Pageaunts sayth. An hundred Graces on her eyeledde satte." (Upton 1 .414 cites 

170 Commentary 

Musaeus [Hero & Leander, 63-65], "oi 5e naXaioi I Tptiq Kctpixac; 
\)/suaavTO 7r8(f»UKEvai. elq 5e xiq 'HpoOc; / 0(|)9aX|idq ysXdcov sKaxov 
Xapixeaai reQri'kzi.") Belphoebe is similarly described, FQ II.iii.25.1 (see HB 

5. simple ivit: not the "deep wit" needed to unravel the riddle of Am. 43.13 — see 
Am. 43.13 & 14 notes. 

6-7. fayre sunshine in somers day . . . dreadfull storme: See FQ lV.x.44. passim, where 
Spenser expands the image of the smiling- Venus: "Great Venus . . . Does fayrest 
shine . . . That with thy smyling looke . . . makst the stormes to flie . . . And 
heauens laugh, and al the world shew ioyous cheare." 

6-8. fayre sunshine . . . thrugh the broad world doth spred his goodly ray: Johnson, in 
"Amoretti and the Art of the Liturgy" 54, suggests the elements of the poet's 
comparatio accord with the contrast between light and dark in the Sunday's 
Epistle, Eph. 5.1-15, "For ye were once darkenes, but are now light in the Lord: 
walke as children of light" (v. 8; see v. 13). See Paul's upholding the Philippians 
as lights to the world in the second lesson at evening prayer, Phil. 2.15-16: 
"among whome ye shine as lights in the worlde. Holding forthe the worde of 
life, that I may reioyce in the day of Christ." 

9. bird: Compare the opening detail of morning prayer Ps. 11.1, "that she should 

flee as a bird vnto the hill." 

spray: a new slender shoot or branch — following Musaeus' xs6TiA,ei (= 
bloom freshly). 

10. euery beast that to his den was fled: Reflects the detail and simile of morning 
prayer Ps. 10.8-9, "priuily in his lurking dennes . . . euen as a Lion lurketh he 
in his denne." 

11. comes forth afresh: corresponding to Musaeus' 7t8(|>UK€vai (= came forth afresh; 
translated by Upton 1.414 as pullulabat = come forth as a young bird or plant). 

Sunday 3 March, Third Sunday in Lent: Epistle: Ephes. 5.1-15. Gospel: Luke 11.14-29. Morning 
Prayer: Pss. 9-11, Luke 14. Evening Prayer: Pss. 12-14, Phil. 2. 

Sonnet 41 

1-4. A rhetorical divisio — the first of three occasions when the device is used for 
days within the same week (see Am. 43 & 46). 

4. skill: reason: right reason can partly restore fallen will. 

8. lost: The sonnet reflects — in a limited manner — the celebrated aphorism which 
concludes all three parables in the second lesson at morning prayer for Monday 
4 March, Luke 15, the hundred sheep of which one is lost, the woman who 
loses one piece of silver, and the prodigal son — "that which is lost" is found 
(vv. 4, 6, 8, 9, 24, 31; see the second lesson at evening prayer Phil. 3.8, "Yea 
doubtles I thinke all things but losse for the excellent knowledge sake of Christ 
lesus my Lord, for whome I haue counted all things losse.") 

13-14. O fayrest fayre: See Am. 20.13-14 for a like final couplet. 

13. neuer it be rmrrxed: See morning prayer Ps. 16.5, "neither make mention of their 
names within my lippes." 

9 6l 14. glorious . . . shame: Phil. 3.19 extends a similar caution by condemning 
those "whose glory is to their shame, which minde earthlie things." (The 
prodigal son's return is glossed by the Geneva version, "therefore was ashamed 
thereof [sidcnote h].) 

Monday 4 March: hAomir\g Prayer: Pm. 15-17, Luke 15. Evening Prayer: Ps. 18, Phil. 3. 

Commentary 171 

Sonnet 42 

1-2. tormenteth . . . pleasing . . . extreamest paine: The pleasing nature of the poet's 
torment and paine contrasts with that of the rich man in the parable of Lazarus 
in the second lesson at morning prayer for Tuesday 5 March, Luke 16, who is 
"in hel in torments" (v. 23) and "tormented in this flame" (v. 24); he is advised 
by Abraham, "Sonne, remember that thou in thy life time receiuedst thy plea- 
sures, and likewise Lazarus paines; now therefore is he comforted, and thou art 
tormented" (v. 25; see v. 28, "this place of torment"). 
4. loue . . . my bane: See Am. 47.13. 

bane: 1. destruction, murder; 2. poison — as in Am. 47.13; 3. the first in- 
stance in the sonnet intimating betrothal, bane (and its plural banes) being the 
public proclamations of the forthcoming marriage, whose intent the poet will 
gladly embrace. 
6. ioy . . . to remayne: For the same construction, see Am. 71, "I loy to see. ..." 
Compare the second lesson at evening prayer, Phil. 4.7, "my . . . beloued and 
longed for, my ioy and my crowne." 
8-11. Compare Petrarch, Rime, 76.9-12: 
e come vero prigioniero afflitto 
de le catene mie gran parte porto, 
e'l cor negli occhi e ne la fronte 6 scritto. 

8. for pledge: 1. for a surety; 2. in its figurative sense, for a token of mutual love in 

marriage — see FQ IV. x. 55. 7-8. "The pledge of faith, her hand engaged held, / 
Like warie Hynd . . . ," and Epith. 239, "your hand, / TTie pledge of all our 

hart: 1 . heart; 2. the sense of a hart with its emblematic ties to marriage (as 
in the preceding "Hynd") is also implied. 

9. start: 1. depart, desert; 2. of a hart, leave its hiding place {OED 17). 

10. adamant: disyllabic by syncopation: 1. unbreakable (dSdjiac;) used of steel, iron 
and the diamond, and betokening constancy in faith — in earlier literature it 
also carried the sense of "unwedded"; 2. intensely loving {ad + amans = loving 

adamant chayne: a commonplace, see Seneca, Hercules Furens, 807, "Ada- 
mante texto vincire." 

11. wandring loues: 1. restless; 2. wanton — e.g., FQ II.v.34.2. 

peruart: 1. turn from the right direction — as in wandring; 2. subvert, ruin. 

12. his: its, heart's. 1611 changes his to in. 

safe assurance: 1. confidence, steadiness; 2. by implication, betrothal; in FQ 
I.ii.27.1 the words "safe assuraunce" constitute the plighting of a troth (See FQ 
IV.i.15.9, IV.ix.16.4, & Epith. 354). 
14. doe me not before my time to die: Compare the answered prayer in morning prayer 
Ps. 21.4, "He asked life of thee, and thou gauest hym a long lyfe." The phrase 
was proverbial — e.g., Erasmus, Adagia, 104C, "Qui mori nolit ante tempus." 

Tuesday 5 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 19-21, Luke 16. Ever\ir\g Prayer: Pss. 22-23, Phil. 4. 

Sonnet 43 

The sonnet's conclusion, which affirms the lady's ability to construe the poet's 
secret love-learned letters, throws down a secret challenge to her, because the poem 
contains an example of the poet's own secret construing of the Vulgate's phrase in 

172 Commentary 

Luke 17.6, dicetis huic arhori moro. The conclusion also intimately contrasts the 
poet's present silence with the lady's soon-to-be-uttered marriage vows. 
1. Shall I then silent be or shall I speake: Proverbial (Smith, Proverb Lore, 714), e.g., 
Erasmus, Encomium, 429 D, "Eloquame, an sileam." The rhetorical divisio (Rix 
50) between silence or speech mirrors the division in the second lesson at 
morning prayer for Wednesday 6 March, Luke 17, which records Christ's 
observation that the secret of God's kingdom can be discerned only within: 
"TTie kingdome of God cometh not with obseruacion. Nether shal men say, Lo 
here, or lo there: for beholde the kingdome of God is within you" (vv. 20-21), 
to which the Geneva Bible adds a sidenote, "It can not be discerned by anie 
outward shew." 
1-4. TTie divisio's subsequent argument finds a precedent in Tasso, Rime, 2, 166: 
Se taccio, il duol s'avanza; 
Se parlo, accresco I'ira, 
Donna bella e crudel, che mi martira. 
Ma prendo al fin speranza 
Che I'umilta vi pieghi, 
Che nel silenzio ancor son voci e preghi. 
E prego Amor che spieghi 
Nel mio doglioso aspetto 
Con lettre di pieta I'occulto affetto. 

4. gall: 1. bile; 2. bitterness of spirit. 

5. tyranny: See morning prayer Ps. 25.18, "they beare a tyrannous hate against me" 

(a usage unique to Coverdale and not found in the Geneva version). 

6. toung . . . tie: strike dumb. 

8. stupid stock: Luke 17 opens with the parable of the mulberry tree, "If ye . . . 

shulde say vnto this mulbery tre (Vulgate, dicetis huic arbori moro) plucke thy self 
vp by the rootes" (v. 6). Spenser has otherwise construed the phrase, morus = 
mulberry + arbor = tree, and rendered it as morus = stupid + arbor = stock. 
See FQ l.ix.34.1 (and IlI.xii.45/49.9), "like two senceles stocks in long embrace- 
ment dwelt," a translation of Ovid, Met. 4.375, "conducat cortice ramos." 

9. Yet I my hart . . . I will teach to speak: A common resolve among the amoretti, e.g., 

Am. 3.13-14 & 8.9. 
9-10. secretly I will teach: Corresponding exactly to the repeated elements of morn- 
ing prayer Ps. 25.3, 7 & 11 "and teache me," Ps. 25.4 & 8 "and leame me," 
Ps. 25.13 "The secret of the Lorde is among them that feare him," and evening 
prayer Ps. 27.5, "in the secret place of his dwelling shal he hide me." 

12. loue learned: (F12 loue-leamed) 1. learned in love; 2. learned through love. 

13. deep wit: the wit needed to unravel a riddle — so profound as to be known only 
to the elect; not "commune wit" (see line 14 note). 

deep: deep silence was proverbial (OED 12.4). 

spel: concerned nearly always with combinations of letters (as distinct from 
construe): 1. pronounce or read letter by letter; 2. form words by letters; 3. 
discover by close study; 4. the sense of a protective prayer or verse is probably 
also present, see E. K.'s note to SC March 54, "a kinde of verse or charme" 
This last sense gives confirmation to the true nature of the heart's thought. 

14. conceiue: 1. comprehend; 2. after the manner of concipere aliquid verbis, express 
in words or give voice to, especially an oath or vow. 

soone: since concipere was specifically used of a woman marrying (e.g., Ovid, 

Commentary 173 

Met. 11.222, " 'dea' dixerat 'undae,' / concipe"), an intimation that the lady 
will soon give voice to her marriage vows. 

leame: See Unes 9-10 note, Ps. 25.4 & 8. 

construe: 1. analyze a grammatical construction especially in a classical 
language, adding a word for word translation (OED 3) — as Spenser has done 
with stupid stock; 2. combine words into a speech — in contrast to the poet's 
silence; 3. interpret a riddle (OED 4); construe is used only once elsewhere by 
Spenser — when Britomart is defeated by the riddle Be bold, "yet could not 
construe it / By any ridling skill, or conmiune wit" (FQ III. xi. 54. 3-4). 
Wednesday 6 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 24-26, Luke 17. Evening Prayer: Pss. 27-29, Col. 1. 

Sonnet 44 

1-4. The opening topos, the Greek myth of Orpheus, matches the marginal note 
"The Greke worde signifieth, not to shrinke backe as cowards do in warre" 
attached to the phrase "not to waxe fainte" of the second lesson at morning 
prayer for Thursday 7 March, Luke 18.1. Spenser has amplified "Greke" into 
Peres of Greece, and accepted "warre" in cruell ciuill warre (5). He has also 
identifed the psalmist David's song in evening prayer Ps. 33.2, "Praise the Lorde 
with Harpe," with the harp with which Orpheus quelled the strife, thus recall- 
ing the patristic typological association of FQ IV.ii. 1.7-2.4 between the psalmist 
and Orpheus. 

Such as was Orpheus, that when strife was growen 
Amongst those famous ympes of Greece, did take 
His siluer Harpe in hand, and shortly friends them make. 

Or such as that celestiall Psalmist was, 

TTiat when the wicked feend his Lord tormented. 
With heauenly notes, that did all other pas, 
The outrage of his furious fit relented. 
The account is anticipated in the preceding canto (IV.i.23.6-9), "And of 
the dreadfull discord, which did driue / The noble Argonauts to outrage fell, / 
That each of life sought others to depriue, / All mindlesse of the Golden fleece, 
which made them striue." The opening quatrain to Sonnet 44 imitates elements 
from both passages. 

1. Peres: 1. companions; 2. those of equal ciuill standing. 

2. iar: 1. disagree or fight; but 2. the sense of musical disharmony is also present. 

4. Orpheus: The tale is recounted in Apollonius, Argonautica 1 .492 ff. . That the 

golden fleece caused the strife in the FQ episode is a Spenserian addition. Here 
the strife is caused through pride. 

harp: David's use of the harp to quell strife is in 1 Sam. 16.23: "And so 
when the euil spirit of God came vpon Saul, Dauid toke an harpe and plaied 
with his hand and Saul was refreshed, and was eased: for the euil spirit departed 
from him." 
4-6 & 12. strife . . . warre, I the which my selfe againt my selfe doe make and to battaile 
fresh against my selfe to fight: The self-war replicates the fighting of Paul in the 
second lesson at evening prayer. Col. 2.1 , "1 wolde ye knewe what great fighting 
1 haue for your sakes." 

5. ciuill warre: a common sonneteers' metaphor, e.g., Sidney, AS 39.7, "O make in 

me those civil wars to cease." 

174 Commentary 

7. passions: In Whitney 186, Orphei Musica, the harp "makes them yeelding passions 

feele, that are by nature fierce." 

warreid are: warrayed are, are made war upon. 

8. The two components of the Une are dupUcative; skill: 1. reason; 2. musical 


stint: 1. cause to cease; 2. assuage or aslake pain. 

reason can aslake: Orpheus's wisdom by contrast was most effectual — see 
Whitney, Orphei Musica, "besides his skill, he learned was, and wise." 

9. tunelesse harp: 1. discordant, like the alarums of war; 2. without tune, silent. 

10. foes: See morning prayer Ps. 30, 1, "1 will magnifie thee, O Lord, for thou hast 
. . . not made my foes to triumphe ouer me." 

13. to settle peace: See Luke 18.39, "he shulde holde his peace (Vulgate, taceret = be 

silent, as in tuneless [9])." 
14 (&. 2). malice (& pride): contrary to the sidenote to Luke 18.17, "Signifying that 

they oght to lay aside all malice and pride." 

Thursday 7 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 30-31, Luke 18; Evening Prayer: Pss. 32-34, Col. 2. 

Sonnet 45 

Sonnet 45, a mirror sonnet, has been diversely considered to embody a Platonic 
doctrine or not. Some (Harrison 135, Bhattacherje 184), attracted by its line, the 
fayre Idea of your celestiall hew (7), have argued that it incorporates stages of the Neo- 
Platonic ladder. Others have countered that the ineaning is not Platonic at all and 
that "Idea means only mental image" (Renwick 200-201 ; see Ellrodt 42). Companion 
sonnets are Sonnet 78, which works the conceit of the yvnage (11) in a slightly 
different and preoccupied way, and Sonnet 88, although its conclusion is decidedly 

1-14. The topos of the mirror and its image exactly reflects the use of the term 
EiKCOV in the second lesson at evening prayer for Friday 8 March, Col. 3.9-10, 
"seing that ye haue put of the olde man with his workes, And haue put on the 
newe, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" 
(koine, ziq ^niyvcoaiv Kax'eiKOva xoO Kxiaavxcc; auxov = in knowledge 
according to the image of the creator). Compare the use of eIkcov as an image 
in a mirror in Plato, The Republic, 402. B: "OuKoOv Kai E(K6va<; ypajindxcov, 
el Ttou f^ ^v u5aoiv f^ ^v Kaxdnxpoic; ^|a(l)aCvoivxo, ou 7ip6xEpov 
yv(oa6|iE9a Ttpiv dv auxa yvcb^ev" (Is it not true that, if there are images of 
letters reflected in water or in mirrors, we shall not know them until we know 
the originals?). Plato applies the same metaphor to the eyes of lovers in Phaedrus 
(255. D), which compares the lover to one that has caught a disease of the eye 
from another but cannot discover its cause, not understanding that his love is 
like a mirror in which he beholds himself: "dtX^'olov &n'&XXov 6ipQaX\xlaq'kzXavK(bc, 7rp6<l)aaiv eItteiv oijk fix^i. &oKep bt tv Kaxdjixpc^) ^v x(p 
^pwvxi ^auxdv dpdiv X,6A.r|9EV." The context of the passage in The Republic 
clearly identifies eIkwv as an image associated with the original I56a (Idea), 
which is the true image in the mind (see Shorey, ed., The Republic, 260 n.). The 
Pauline phrase, although not Platonic, is reminiscent of the eternal forms in the 
(creator's) mind, which constitute Plato's Ideas (see lines 5-8 note; both Paul 
and Plato qualify their use of e{k(I)v by listing a series of virtues necessary for 
true discernment). 

Commentary 175 

I. The instruction to stop viewing her face in the mirror also matches the day's 

morning prayer Ps. 36.1, "there is no feare of God before his eyes. For he 
flattereth him selfe in his own sight." 

^sse: not then a "Venus looking glas" so prominent in FQ (e.g., III. i. 8. 9; 
lll.ii. 18-21). The mirror conceit, widespread both in England and on the conti- 
nent, was developed variously, e.g., Shakespeare, Sonnet 3: "Looke in thy 
glasse"; or Richard Bamfield, Cynthia with Certaine Sonnets, Sonnet 11.10-11: 
"Looke in this glasse (quoth 1) there shalt thou see / TTie perfect forme of my 
felicitie." Among the conceit's continental exponents both Petrarch (Rime, 
45.10-11, "non dovea specchio farvi per mio danno, / a voi stessa piacendo, 
aspra e superba") and Tasso {Rime, 2.251.169, "Qual da cristallo lampeggiar si 
vede Raggio") treat it similarly (see Tasso, 2.316, 9-10, "Vede se stessa nel 
cristallo etemo / Quasi 'n ispecchio, e vede a se sembianti ..."). TTie observa- 
tion by Renwick 201, who cites Serafino da Aquila, Tebaldeo, Marot, Sceve 
and Desjxjrtes as possible sources, that "This is a fair specimen of the "source 
problem" of the Amorettj" is exact. 

4. semblant: 1. normally appearance, particularly that which might mislead (see Am. 
88 headnote for a discussion of (t)dvTaa|ia = semblance); but 2. here true 
image (= eiKWv) — see line 1 note, Tasso, "sembianti." 

5-8. The (5^ai of Plato were ideal forms, of which all created things were the 
imperfect images. Tliey were conceived as the eternal forms of being (echoed in 
remaines immortally [8]), in opposition to their material forms, as subjects of 
thought but not of sight. The contrast between the lady's celestial hew, to be 
discovered within the poet, and her earthly resemblance, to be discerned by 
sight, corresponds to the instruction in OdI. 3.2, "Set your affections on things 
which are aboue, and not on things, which are on the earth." 

7. hew: 1. shape; 2. complexion or color (see Am. 3.8 note). 

9. dimmed and deformd: Reflecting the opaque and flawed nature of sixteenth 
century glass, and hinting at Plato's world of shadows and material forms. 

II. visnomy: physiognomy, but Spenser always uses the contracted form; 1. techni- 
cally, the face read as an index to someone's nature or character {^vaic, = 
nature + yv(a|iO)v = judge from yvwaiq = judgement or knowledge) — hence 
corresponding to the detail of Col. 3.10 (koine, ^Tifyvcoaic; = judgement or 
knowledge); 2. reflection in a mirror {OED 3b). 

13. your selfe in me ye playne will see: TTie poet's intention that the lady should see 
her light in the light within himself corresponds precisely to the day's morning 
prayer Ps. 36.9, "For ... in thy light shall we see light." 

14. remoue the cause by which your fay re beames darkned be: strictly the cause is the 
lady's cruelty (8), but there is a probable echo of Paul's forthright advice. Col. 
3.5, to "Mortifie therefore your members which are on the earth" — a proper 
Lenten thought for assistance in subduing the passions. One of two alexandrines 
in the sequence (see Am. 10.14.) 

Friday 8 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 35-36, Luke 19. Evening Prayer: Ps. 37, Col. 3. 

Sonnet 46 

Attributing fault to the heavens was proverbial (see Smith, Proverb Lore, 4). Here 
Spenser has drawn on earlier occasions in FQ when the heavens are held blamewor- 
thy, notably Meliboe's advice to Calidore (Vl.ix.29.3) and Artegall's calling upon 

176 Commentary 

the heavens to attest his innocence (V.xi.41.6-9). (Presumably departure is on a 
horse or in an open carriage, for hidden in the sonnet is the figure of a horse who 
will not obay [5], whom the poet must raine [14] and hold back [10], and to whose 
gait (ivrack [12]) he also alludes.) 

1. abodes: 1. stay, visit; 2. the sense of foreboding or ominous as in storm-clouds is 

also present. 

prefixed time: a time already set. 

2. cruell fayre: A standard Petrarchan and Petrarchist epithet, see Petrarch Rime, 

126.29, "fera bella" and 23.149, "fera bella e cruda." TTie epithet is used only 
in Amoretti and then 5 times within the space of 10 sonnetSv.Am. 46-56. 
straight: 1. without delay; 2. frankly. 

wend my way: Compare morning prayer Ps. 39.1 & 15 for Saturday 9 
March, "1 will take heede to my wayes," and "O spare me a litle, that 1 may 
recouer my strength: before 1 go hence." 

3. most hideous stormes: Compare evening prayer Ps. 42.9, "all thy . . . stormes are 

gone ouer me." Shakespeare begins Sonnet 34 with the same complaint. 

4. willing me against her will: See evening prayer Ps. 41.2, "deliuer not thou him into 

the will of his enemies," and Ps. 40.10, "that 1 should fulfil thy wil." 

5. Whom then shall I or heauen or her obay?: TTie dilemma matches that faced by the 

scribes and elders in the second lesson at morning prayer, Luke 20. Having 
questioned Christ as to the source of his authority to be obeyed, they were 
asked: "I also wil aske you one thing: tell me therefore: The baptisme of lohn 
was it from heauen, or of men?" (vv. 3-4). Where the scribes subsequently 
debated among themselves, "If we shal say from heauen, he wil say. Why then 
beleued ye him not? But if we shal say. Of men, all the people wil stone vs" (vv. 
5-6), so Spenser spends the rest of his sonnet discussing his own dilemma. The 
divisio is the third of three in close proximity, see Am. 41 & 43. heauen: mono- 
syllabic throughout. 

6. the heauens know best what is the best for me: Meliboe's advice to Calidore is 

identical (FQVl.ix.29. 1-3): 

In vaine (said then old Meliboe) doe men 

TTie heauens of their fortunes fault accuse, 
Sith they know best, what is the best for them. 
8. lower heauen: 1. lower in contrast to higher heaven — the lady; 2. through its 
homonym lour, (louring / lowering), a gloomy, dark, threatening sky; 3. by 
transference, the forbidding looks or frown of the lady. 
10. hold me backe: 1. restrain me; 2. rein me in, as one might a horse. 
12. wrack: 1. torture; 2. ruin; but 3. wrack, through its homonym rack, suggests the 
storm-clouds which rack up before the wind; 4. the equine context of rack, 
intending a horse's gait as the poet departs, cannot be ignored. 
14. raine: 1. rain; 2. homonymically, rein, and then an echo of morning prayer Ps. 
39.2, "I will keepe my mouth as it were with a bridle"; the pun completes the 
sonnet's equine allusions. 

Saturday 9 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 38-40, Luke 20. Evening Prayer: Pss. 41-43, Col. 4. 

Sonnet 47 

Spenser evidently was an enthusiastic angler, the fishing topos being one of his more 
popular images. Sonnet 47 's dominant simile of the fish corresponds to the incident, 

Commentary 177 

when "Ie5U5 fedeth fine thousand men with fiue loaues and two fishes" recounted in the 
Gospel for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, 10 March, John 6.1-15. 

1 . Trust not: Similar cautions punctuate the second lesson at morning prayer, Luke 

21, e.g., "be not deceiued" (v. 8). 

smyling lookes: oeillades: amorous glances which the lady bestows on the 
poet without ever intending they be requited; see Shakespeare, Sonnet 137.4-8, 
with its range of sexual undertones: "If eyes corrupt by ouer-partiall lookes, / Be 
anchord in the baye where all men ride, / Why of eyes falsehood hast thou 
forged hookes, / Whereto the iudgement of my heart is tide?" Like Shakespeare, 
Spenser recasts the seamstress' hook-and-eye. 

2. guylefull traynes: snare, lures. Luke 21.35 counsels awareness "lest that day come 

on you at vnwares. For as a snare shal it come on all them" (with its Geneva 

version sidenote, "To catch and intangle them"). 
4 foolish fish: See headnote, John 6, and the subsequent detail, "two fishes" (v. 9) 

and "fishes" (v. 11). For the foolishness of such fish, see evening prayer Ps. 

49.12-14, where man "may bee compared vnto the beastes that perishe. . . . 

This is their foolishnes" (see v. 10). The image was proverbial (see Smith, 

Proverb Lore, 37 & 266). 

bayts: At the end of Castiglione, The Courtier, 4 (Everyman, 308), one of 

Bembo's companions points out: "There be also many wicked men that have 

the comlinesse of a beautifiill countenance, and it seemeth that nature hath so 

shaped them, because they may bee the readier to deceive, and that this amiable 

looke were like a baite that covereth the hooke." 
6. loue: a possible play on words: loue = Italian amo, but amo = hook also in 


decay: death. 

9. her bloody hands them slay: Recalls John's prophecies that, "they shal lay their 

hands on you" (v. 12), and '^sorrxe of you shal they put to death" (v. 16), as well 
as morning prayer Ps. 44.22, "slayne." 

10. louely: 1. beautiful; 2. lovingly. 

13. O rrughty charm: 1. the lady's eyes which enchant or captivate; 2. paradoxically 
a charm was an amulet or decoration used to deter evil, such as the cross on the 
Red Cross Knight's shield {FQ I.ii.18.1-4; see I.xi.36.9). 

Sunday 10 March, Fourth Sunday in Lent: Epistle: Gal. 4.21-31. Gospel: John 6.1-15. Morning 

Prayer: Pss. 44-46, Luke 21. Evening Prayer: Pss. 47-49, 1 Thess. 1. 

Sonnet 48 

Dodge 222 suggests the sonnet may reflect an actual incident; more probably it is 

the working of an irifrequent conceit — e.g., Desportes, Diane 2.75. 

1. Innocent: 1. without guilt; 2. unharmful {in-nocens = not-harming). 

paper: an unusual Spenserian term; 1. a paper was identified with the 
preferring of a suit, e.g., those at the "Princes Court," who "p)oore Sutors papers 
do retaine" (Col 741); it introduces a range of legal vocabulary in the sonnet; 2. 
possibly a written p>oem. 

2. matter: 1. excuse; 2. legally, something presented to be tried or proved. 

3. cause: in its pregnant sense, a proper ground for legal action. 

4. did sacrifize vnto the greedy fyre: Compare the action of Peter, in the second lesson 

at morning prayer for Monday 1 1 March, Luke 22, who denied the cause of his 
"Master" (see line 8 note), when seated around a fire, "And when they had 

178 Commentary 

kindled a fyre ... a certeine maide behelde him as he sate by the fyre, and 
hauing wel loked on him" (vv. 55-56). 

sacrifice: Peter's betrayal occured on the day "when the Passeouer must be 
sacrificed" (v. 7; see morning prayer Pss. 50.3, "there shall go before him a 
consuming fire"; 51.16, "For thou desirest no sacrifice . . . TTie sacrifice of God 
is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart (O God) shalt thou not despise"; 
and 50.5 & 8, "sacrifices"). 

5. hyre: recompense, payment. 

6. ordayned: decreed; burning was the penalty for the heretic. 

7. treason didst conspire: The theme of treason and betrayal matches that of Luke 22, 

whose Geneva version headnote runs, "Conspiracie against Christ . . . ludas 
treason,'' and which recounts how Judas "communed with the hie Priests, and 
captaines, how he might betray him" (v. 4). 

8. plead: {— pleaded) prosecute a legal action. 

maisters: unique occurrence in the sequence — see Luke 22.11, "Master." 
payned: 1. suffered; 2. punished — from its etymon poerw = punishment (see 
Am. 10.14 note). 

11. complayned: 1. lamented — see evening prayer Ps. 55, headnote (Geneva ver- 
sion), "Dauid . . . complaineth of the crueltie of Saul"; 2. legally, make a formal 
statement of grievance before a competent authority, see Am. 12.13 note. 

12. the piteous passion of his dying smart: In imitation of Luke 22.44, "agonie," with 
its sidenote q, "Meaning, his death and passion." 

14. requite: 1. repay (as in hyre 15]); 2. recompense or auenge (2) a wrong. 

Monday 11 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 50-52, Luke 22. Evening Prayer; Pss. 53-55, 1 Thess. 2. 

Sonnet 49 

The sonnet is built around the conceit of the cockatrice or basilisk, the fabulous 
reptile "brought forth of a Cockes egge" and hatched by a snake (see Topsell, 
Serpents [1608] 119). The conceit matches Tuesday 12 March's morning prayer Ps. 
58.3, "The vngodly are frowarde euen firom their mothers wombe. . . . TTiey are as 
venemous as the poyson of a Serpent: euen like the deafe Adder that stoppeth her 
eares." TTie poem's word-plays and etymological awarenesses make Spenser's 
working of the conceit more complex than most. 

1. Fayre cruell: a customary Petrarchan paradox, see Petrarch, Rime, 23.149, "quella 

fera bella e cruda" (see Am. 46.2 note). Am. 7, which sustains an implied image 
of the basilisk throughout, opens "Fayre eyes." 

2. your eyes hauepowre to kiil: Pliny, Nat. Hist. (in Holland's translation), 

recounts of the cockatrice that "(by report) if he do but set his eye on a man, it 
is enough to take away his life." Spenser's other reference to the cockatrice 
occurs in FQ lV.viii.39.7-9: "Like as the Basiliske of serpents seede, / From 
powrefull eyes close venim doth conuay / Into the lookers hart, and killeth farre 
away." The conceit was generally worked in a stock manner — e.g., Drayton's 
treatment of "That daungerous eye-killing Cockatrice," Ideas Mirrour, Amour 

3. mighties ieu/ell: an etymological playing with pdotXiaKdq, which primarily meant 

kingly, mighty (see line 6 note, imperious) as well as basilisk. The cockatrice bore 
a jewel-like mark on its forehead - see Bart. Angl. 350\ "(the Cockatrice] hath 
a specke in his head as a precious stone." 

Commentary 179 

3-4. mercy . . . I greater glory thinke to saue, then spill: Echoing the second lesson at 
morning prayer, Luke 23, "He saued others: let him saue him self (v. 35), and, 
"If thou be the King of the lewes, saue thy self."(v. 37). The sonnet's range of 
allusions to death, spilling of blood, mercy and saving correspond with the 
Lucan account. 

4. to saue, then spill: Proverbial with classical origins, see Ovid, Heroides 12. 75-76, 
"Perdere posse sat est, siquem iuvet ipsa potestas; sed tibi servatus gloria maior 
ero." Spenser uses the adage of Mercy, "As it is greater prayse to saue, then 
spill" {FQ V.x.2.8; see Am. 38.11-12). 
spill: kill, destroy. 

6. imperious: Another etymological pun on ^daiXiaKdq 1. basilisk; 2. imperial, 

8. bend your force: Compare Vulgate Ps. 58.6, Intendit {= bend) arcum suum; arcus in 
Ovid, Met. 3.42, is used also to describe the windings of a serpent. 

10. Coclaitnces: See headnote; morning prayer Ps. 58.3 was customarily identified 
with Ps. 91.13, "Super aspidem et basilicum ambulabis, / Et conculcabis leonem 
et draconem." Spenser has accepted the established association and construed 
the day's reference to "Serpent" and "Adder" as Chckatrices. (Am. 7 similarly 
associates Ps. 91.13 with Ps. 140.3.) He has also played on the Vulgate's basili- 
cum, by taking up the etymology of conculcabis (= con + calco = to tread under 
foot) to render basilicum as "kokatrice." Cockatrice itself was thought to derive 
from calcatrix (= she who treads under foot), the feminine form of the noun 
from calco. Tlie pun is echoed in him that at your footstoole humbled lies. 

11-12. footstoole . . . mercifull regard: a rendering of Vulgate Ps. 56.7, Ipsi calcaneum 
meum (= my heel, foot) observabunt (= will regard), and an echo of Ps. 56.1, 
"Be mercifull vnto me, O God, for man goeth about to deuoure me" (Vulgate, 
conculcavit me = tread me under foot). Christ's triumph over death, recounted 
in Luke 23, was customarily seen as fulfilling Ps. 110.1, "vntill I make thine 
enemies thy footestoole." 

12. regard: 1. a look or glance, in keeping with eyes; 2. attention, consideration for. 
too: 1611 & 1617 read to. 

14. admyred: disyllabic by syncopation. 

Tuesday 12 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 56-58, Luke 23; Evenir^ Prayer: Pss. 59-61, 1 Thess. 3. 

Sonnet 50 

1-4. The sonnet's discourse upon the topoi of medicines, salves, and ointments 
directly corresponds to the opening incident of the second lesson at morning 
prayer for Wednesday 13 March, Luke 24, the account of the women who 
brought ointments to anoint the body of Christ and discovered the resurrection: 
"they came vnto the sepulchre, and broght the odores (Vulgate, aromata), which 
they had prepared" (v. 1; the verse expands the final verse of the preceding 
chapter, which specifies "odores, and ointments," while the parallel version of 
Mark (16.1) renders aromata as "swete ointments"). 

The sonnet recalls the passage where Patience, the leech, cures the 
maladies afflicting the Red Cross Knight {FQ I.x.24): 
Who comming to that soule-diseased knight, 
Could hardly him intreat, to tell his griefe: 
Which knowne, and all that noyd his heauie spright 

180 Commentary 

Well searcht, eftsoones he gan apply reliefe 
Of salues and med'cines, which had passing priefe, 
And thereto added words of wondrous might: 
By which to ease he him recured briefe, 
And much asswag'd the passion of his plight, 
TTiat he his paine endur'd, as seeming now more light. 
Spenser's having recourse to the emblem of Patience matches in turn 
morning prayer Ps. 62.5-6, "for my hope is in him (Vulgate, Quoniam ah ipso 
patientia mea)." The leech or physician was a favorite Spenserian image. 
1 & 10. languishing . . . languour: 1. disease, sickness; 2. by inference, woeful plight. 

4. medicines: disyllabic by syncopation. 

5. priefe: proven skill, experience. 

6. deep discouery of the mynds disease: 1. profound; 2. secret — in direct imitation of 

morning prayer Ps. 64.6-7, "they keepe secret among them selues, euery man in 
the deepe of his heart . . . that they shall be wounded." 
7-8. hart . . . rules the members: axiomatic. 

members: the limbs and organs of the body, in distinction from the heart 
— see BCP's phrase (Collect for the Circumcision), "our hearts and all our mem- 

11. ease: 1. relief; 2. as an antonym to dis-ease, health. 

12. sweet cordialls: medicines that restore the heart (from cor = heart). Belphoebe, 
by contrast, refuses Timias the "sweet Cordiall, which can restore / A loue-sick 
hart" (FQ IIl.v.50.6-7). 

13. my lyfes Leach: 1. the lady who will cure the poet; 2. since the term was tradi- 
tionally applied to God and Christ from TertuUian onwards (its biblical analogue 
was Mark 2.17), the biblical subtext also suggests Christ, the lady being asked to 
manifest a like skill. (See TertuUian, Adversus Marcum, 3.17, "annunciari 
Christum medicatorem," and Chaucer, S. T., 184, "God that is oure lyues 
leche." Spenser names Apollo, "King of Leaches" (FQ IV. 12.25.4); Apollo also, 
having ravished Oenome, then taught her the "leaches craft" {FQ 111. iv. 41. 3), 
even if Ovid, Met. 1.521, admits that love cannot be cured by herbs.) 

Wednesday 13 March: Momir^ Prayer: Pss. 62-64, Luke 24. Evening Prayer: Pss. 65-67, 1 Thess. 4. 

Sonnet 51 

The theme of artistic endurance, which the sonnet shares with Sonnet 69, is here 
turned into recrimination against the lady's hardheartedness. The poet's desire to 
soften her hardness echoes Ovid's account of the legend of Pygmalion (Met. 10.243- 
94). Pygmalion, having made an ivory statue of Galatea, is able through Venus' 
intervention to soften its hardness and bring it to life through his touch: 
manibus quoque pectora temptat: 

temptatum mollescit ebur positoque rigore 

subsidit digitis ceditque, ut Hymettia sole 

cera remoUescit tractataque pollice multas 

flectitur in facies ipsoque fit utilis usu. 

(Golding, 10.307-12: 

and on her brest did lay 
His hand. The luory wexed soft: and putting quyght away 
All hardnesse, yeelded vnderneathe his fingars, as wee see 

Commentary 181 

A peece of wax made soft ageinst the Sunne, or drawen too bee 
In diuers shapes by chaufing it between ones handes, and so 
To seme to uses.) 
The Ovidian metaphor for such softening, that of wax in the face of heat, corre- 
sponds exactly with the opening simile to morning prayer Ps. 68 for Thursday 14 
March, "like as waxe melteth at the fire" (v. 2), the second time in the sequence 
that Spenser has been struck by the simile (see Am. 21) 

2. hardest Marble: a frequent comparative detail of immortal verses, e.g., Whitney 

197, Pennae gloria perennis, with its allusions to Homer and indebtedness to 
Pliny, (Nat. Hist. 7.16): 

Yea, thoughe some Monarche greate some worke should take in hand, 

Of marble, or of Adamant, that manie worldes shoulde stande, 

Yet, should one only man, with labour of the braine. 

Bequeathe the world a monument, that longer shoulde remaine. 

And when that marble waules, with force of time should waste; 

It should indure from age, to age, and yet no age should taste. 
3-4. for that: so that. 

ne: 1 . nor — ne let frequently introduces Spenserian orisons or invocations; 
2. possibly an intentional echo of the Latin ne (as in evening prayer Vulgate Ps. 
70.6, ne moreris) = ut non = so that . . . not; hence 'so that they should not 

3. endure: The sonnet plays like Am. 6 on endure (= in + durus = hard), in hardnes 

(6), hard (8), hard (9), endure (12). 

4. moniment: Like Am. 69, Sonnet 51 corresponds to a day following one for which 

a sonnet has been written to match a resurrection account. The common source 
lies with the Vulgate in which Mark, Luke, and John all use monumentum to 
describe the burial place of Christ; nwniment is used elsewhere in the sequence 
only to commemorate the feasts of Easter Monday (Am. 69.10) and the Ascen- 
sion (Am. 82.8), whose theme of penning immortal poetry finds an equivalent 
in Ps. 68.13's "feathers like golde" (Vulgate, penrme . . . auri). 

5. louers trade: the craft of loving, the same as the "louely trade" of FQ III.xi.32.2. 

The phrase introduces a series of bawdy puns similar to that of Am. 6. 
7-8. neuer ought . . . assayde: Proverbial, see Smith, Proverb Lore, 182 & 363 with 

the possible bawdy association of neuer ought = nought ( = vulva) ever (see Am. 


assayde: 1. tried; see Ovid, "temptat: / temptatum mollescit ebur"; 2. at- 
tempted love-making; see Shakespeare, VA 608, "She hath assay'd as much as 

may be proved". 
9-10. Ne ou^t . . . to his will allure: possibly extending the sexual innuendo: Ne 

ought = vulva; will = penis; allure = attract sexually. 
10. bend: 1. yield — only something hard can bend, not something flaccid; 2. the 

archaic sense of bind or capture is also possible. 
14. but hauing her: possessing sexually (see I Henry IV, 111. iii. 132-33; Ralegh, 

Nature, that washed her harxds in milk, 11). 

Thursday 14 March: Morning Prayer: Ps. 68, John 1. Evening Prayer: Pss. 69-70, 1 Thess. 5. 

Sonnet 52 

1-14. The p>oet as a melancholic lover, lamenting his absence from his beloved, has 

182 Commentary 

adopted the same role as Timias after his banishment by Belphoebe {FQ 
IV.vii.36-viii.2). Belphoebe's rejection is perceived with "sodaine glancing eye" 
(36.1). Timias, having rejected society and found a "fit solitary place" (38.4), 
discards his "wonted warlike weapons" and, when finally discovered by Arthur, 
refuses all relief: 

all he said and did, was vaine, 
Ne ought mote make him change his wonted tenor, 
Ne ought mote ease or mitigate his paine. 
He left him there in languor to remaine, 
Till time for him should remedy prouide. 
And him restore to former grace againe. (47.2-7) 
TTiereafter Timias "with penaunce sad / And pensiue sorrow pind and 
wore away" (viii.2.5-6). TTie sonnet finds little correspondence with any of the 
liturgical readings for Friday 16 March, although its turning present afflictions 
into penance is a proper lenten thought. 
4. despoiled: stripped. 

knowen shield: 1. with its identifying device; 2. customary, wonted; see FQ "known armes." 

7. exylde: G^mpare Petrarch, Rime, 21.10, "ne I'esilio infelice alcun soccorso." 

8. languor: 1. sorrow, distresse — see Am. 50.10; 2. longing or ennui. 

11. dumps: 1. fits of melancholy; 2. absence of mind; the only usage by Spenser, but 
see Am. 4.4, "dumpish spright." See Watson, Hecatompathia, 11: "a dumpe, or 
sounden extasie." 

dreary: melancholic, sad. 
13. absens: Compare evening prayer Ps. 74.1, "O God, wherefore art thou absent 
from vs so long." 

my penaunce make: See lines 1-14 note, FQ IV.viii.2.5, "with penaunce 

Friday 15 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 71-72, John 2. Evening Prayer: Pss. 73-74, 2 Thess. 1. 

Sonnet 53 

1 . Panther: Spenser accepted the received medieval and early Renaissance distinc- 

tion between the leopard and panther (FQ & 26.3). Here he also 
develops the accepted view that the panther attracted its prey by its spotted 
hide but hid its head because sight of it frightened the prey away. See Bart. 
Angl. 376": 

And all foure footed beasts haue liking to beholde the diuerse coulours 
of the Panthera and Tygres, but they be a fearde of the horriblenesse of 
theyr heads, and therfore they hide their heads, and toll the beastes to 
them with fayrenesse of the other deale of the body, and take them when 
they come so tolled and eate them: and though he be a right cruel beast, 
yet he is not vnkind to them that helps and sucour him in anye wise. 

2. fray: frighten. 

3. bush: 1. shrub; 2. a place of concealment or ambush (OED 4 cites the phrase, 

"thrust one's head in a bush"). 

dreadfull head: in Am. 31.5, such beasts have a "dreadfiill countenaunce." 

4. pray: TTic bestial topos matches morning prayer Ps. 76.4 (Geneva version) for 

Saturday 10 March: "Thou art more bright and puissant, then the mountaines 

Commentary 183 

of pray," with its sidenote "he compareth the kingdomes ... to the mountaines 
that are fill of rauening beasts." 

5. cruell fayre: the standard Petrarchist epithet, see Petrarch, Rime, 23.149, "fera 

bella e cruda." 

play: toy with, as a large cat often does with its prey. 
6-7. ivith the goodly serriblant of her heui, / she doth allure me: See Am. 31.10, "through 
sweet allurement of her louely hew." 

6. goodly semblant: countenance. 

hew: 1. shape, figure; 2. complexion, color; see Am. 31.10 note. 

11. embrew: 1. primarily to stain; 2. here, in its pregnant sense, to pierce {OED 3). 

12. Proverbial, see Smith, Proverb Lore, 339. 

14. as in theyr maker ye them best may see: Compare the conclusion in Am. 9.13. 

Saturday 16 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 15-11 , John 3. Evening Prayer: Ps. 78, 2 Tliess. 2. 

Sonnet 54 

The sonnet, opening with the theatrical topos and closing with the image of the 
stone, reverses the structure of Sonnet 18. Pageant, masque and spectacle are among 
Spenser's favorite conceits, although they are uncommon among sonneteers. 

1. Of this worlds Theatre: The emblem corresponds to the opening image of the 

Epistle for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, 17 March, Heb. 9.11-16, which presents 
Christ as "a greater and a more perfite Tabernacle (koine, aKr|vfi(;), not made 
with hands, that is not of this buylding." The koine's aKr|vfi (Vulgate, tabema- 
culum), was used primarily by the Greeks as a technical term for a wooden stage 
on which actors performed. (See Am. 18.9-14 note.) Compare evening prayer 
Ps. 84.1 (Geneva version), "how amiable are thy tabernacles" (Vulgate, Quam 
dilecta tabemacula tua). 
Theatre: trisyllabic. 

2. ydly: foolishly, even unconcernedly. 

sits: See morning prayer Ps. 80.1 &. 14, where God "sittest vpon the 
Cherubins," and is called upon to "looke downe from heauen: beholde, and 
visite this vine." 

3. pageants: 1. a play's individual scenes — such as are subsequently played out; 2. 

the drama of life itself, as in the phrase 'to play one's pageant'; 3. since pageant 
was used of the stage itself, an echo of aKTivfj. 

4. disguysing: 1. concealing; 2. masquing; disguysing was the old English word for 

masquing and Spenser frequently links the two — e.g., FQ Ill.iii.5 1 .9, "to maske 
in strange disguise." 

5. fits: befits; but a fit was 1 . a strain of music associated with dancing and masquing; 

2. a short period of time such as a stay (1); 3, a paroxysm, such as the poet's 
troubled wits (2). 

6. mask: 1. masque; 2. mask, disguise. 
8. Iwaile: See Am. 18.12. 

Tragedy: the theatrical topos is developed to accord with the peculiar 
pseudo-etymological detail provided by Heb. 9.1 1-12. Paul's GKr\vf\, "not made 
with hands," is distinguished from earlier aKr|vfj on which were enacted other 
performances "by the blood of goates" (v. 12; koine, SrarfiaToq tpdycov) and 
"the blood of buUes and of goates" (v. 13; koine, id al\xa xaupcov Kai 
ipdycov). Tragedy ingeniously reflects the koine's xpdyoc;, which is its partial 

184 Commentary 

11-12. when I laugh she mocks, and when I cry I she laughes: Imitating directly 
morning prayer Ps. 80.6, "our enemies laugh vs to scome" (Vulgate, subsan' 
naverunt = deride, mock, particularly in a pantomine or masque) and Ps. 79.4, 
with its context of onlookers, "We are become an open shame to our enemies: 
a very scome (Vulgate, subsannatio = derision, mockery) and derision (Vulgate, 
illusio = a mocking, laughing) vnto them that are round about vs." (The 
Geneva version attaches to its rendering, "We are a reproche to our neigh- 
bours," the sidenote, "but thei . . . laughed at our miseries.") See Am. 18.12, 
corresponding to Ps. 52.7, "shall laugh him to scome." 

12. hardens euermore her hart: the same complaint occurs in Am. 18.6. See morning 
prayer Ps. 81.12 (Geneva version), "So 1 gaue them vp vnto the hardenes of 
their heart." 

13. merth nor mone: a common poetic yoking — see I Henry IV, II.iii.44. 

14. stone: The Sunday's readings repeatedly associate temples with stones, see its 
Gospel, John 8.59, "TTien toke they vp stones, to cast at him, but lesus hid him 
self, and went out of the Temple," and morning prayer Ps. 79.1, "thy holy 
Temple haue they defiled, and made Hierusalem an heape of stones." 

Sunday 17 March, Fifth Sunday in Lent: Epistle: Heb. 9.11-16. Gospel: John 8.46-59. Morning 
Prayer: Pss. 79-81, John 4. Everung Prayer: Pss. 82-85, 2 Thess. 3. 

Sonnet 55 

The sonnet's expeditio, the third of the sequence and similar to Sonnet 9's, attempts 
to find a proper element with which to compare the lady's substance; it first 
eliminates the four elements of earth, water, air and fire, finally to arrive at a fifth 
element, the heavens. The paradoxical factors which cancel the four elements are 
they themselves in reverse order of their progression. The order and its contrary are 
given by Ovid, Met. 15.237-52 (Golding 15.262-75): 
TTiis endlesse world conteynes therin 1 say 
Fowre substances of which all things are gendred. Of theis fower 
The Earth and Water for theyr masse and weyght are sunken lower. 
The other cowple Aire, and Fyre the purer of the twayne 
Mount vp, and nought can keepe them downe. And though there doo remayne 
A space between eche one of them: yit euery thing is made 
Of them same fowre, and intoo them at length ageine doo fade. 
TTie earth resoluing leysurely dooth melt too water sheere. 
The water fyned tumes too aire. The aire eeke purged cleere 
From grossenesse, spyreth vp aloft, and there becommeth fyre. 
From thence in order contrary they backe ageine retyre. 
Fyre thickening passeth intoo Aire, and Ayer wexing grosse, 
Retumes too water: Water eeke congealing intoo drosse, 
Becommeth earth. No kind of thing keepes ay his shape and hew. 
1. So oft as 1: see Am. 52.1, "So oft as . . . 1." 

3. maruaile: The only usage in Amoretti and echoing the double Joannine use in the 
second lesson at morning prayer for Monday 18 March, John 5.28, where Christ 
warns "Marueile not at this" and claims the Father "wil shcwe . . . greater 
workes then these, that ye should marueile" (v. 20). 

mould: 1 . earth, particularly that out of which the human body was formed 
- Ovid's "tellus"; 2, shape or hue - a sense sustained in hye (12). 

Commentary 185 

5. hi^ thou^ts: 1. properly lofty; 2. proud, haughty (11). 

heauenly: disyllabic by syncopation. 

6. water: Compare the detail of morning prayer Ps. 88.17, "They came round about 

me daily like water," evening prayer Ps. 89.10, "TTiou rulest the raging of the 
sea," and John 5.3-7, passim, the pool of Bethesda with its "mouing of the 
water," "stirring of the water," "troubled the water" and "the water is trou- 

hume like fyre: in direct imitation of Ps. 89.45, "bume like fire." 

7. lig^t: 1. having little weight in proportion to bulk; the syllogistic major, "that al 

light thynges contend vpwarde" (OED a 12), was standard — see headnote, 
Ovid, Met. 15.242-43, "gravitate carent . . . alta petunt"; in the 16th century 
applied not only to air but to water (in the sense of pure) and earth (in the sense 
of friable); 2. by transference of women, wanton, unchaste. 

rare: 1. when used of the air, opposed to dense, with its particles widely 
dispersed, see headnote, Ovid, Met. 15.245-46), "tellus / in liquidas rarescit 
aquas" (= the earth rarefies [itself] into liquid waters); 2. uncoimnon; 3. splen- 
10-1 1. skye . . . heauen: The concluding comparison corresponds to the exclamation 
in evening prayer Ps. 89.6, "For who is he among the cloudes: that shal be 
compared vnto the Lord . . . that shall be like vnto the Lord?" Conventionally 
the sky lies beyond the fourth element, fire. 

11. hau^ty lookes: 1. high-minded, exalted; 2. proud, disdainful. 

aspire: rise up as smoke or fire, see Am. 6.8. The word retained associations 
with 'spire,' to soar aloft, see headnote, Ovid, Met. 15.271, "spyreth vp aloft." 

12. ivnmortall: Compare the only biblical use of the adjective in the second lesson at 
evening prayer, 1 Tim. 1.17, "the King euerlasting, immortal, inuisible." 

hye: 1. Osgood, Concordance, 417 gives the reading high, although three 
consecutive qualifiers would be an unusual Spenserian construction; 2. more 
probably an older spelling of 'hue' (OED sb la) despite the difficulties of rhyme 
the reading would cause; see headnote, Ovid, Met. 15.252, "Nee species sua 
cuique manet" (Golding: "No kind of thing keepes ay his shape and hew") — in 
direct contrast to John 5.37, "nether haue ye sene his [God's] shape (Vulgate, 
speciem eius)." 

Monday 18 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 86-88, John 5. Evening Prayer: Ps. 89, 1 Tim. 1 

Sonnet 56 

TTie sonnet's images of beast, tree and ship mirror the first three emblems of the six 
visions comprising Petrarch's "Standomi un giomo" {Rinxe, 323), each an allegory 
of Laura's death. Spenser had earlier translated Marot's rendering of the canzone for 
A Theatre for Worldlings and adapted it for The Visions of Petrarch. Here the role of 
Petrarch's "fera" is turned from hunted to hunter. TTie sonnet finds little close 
correspondence with any of the scriptural readings prescribed for Tuesday 19 March. 

1 , 5 &. 9. Fayre ye be sure: The sonnet's structure imitates Tasso's "Voi set bella, ma 

. . ." (Rirne, 4.69.523). 

Fayre . . . but cruell: a customary Petrarchan and Petrarchist paradox, see 
Petrarch, Rime, 23.149, "fera bella e cruda," and 126.29, "fera bella." 

vnkind: 1. uncharitable; 2. unnatural. 

2. Tygre: See Petrarch, Rime, 323.4, "una fera m'apparve da man destra." In Pet 


186 Commentary 

Spenser uses "Hynde" (4) from Marot's "Biche," itself an adaptation of Pet- 
rarch's "fera." Petrarch identifies the beast with the tiger in Rime, 152.1, "fera, 
un cor di tigre." The image is a Spenserian favorite, although uncommon 
among his predecessors, see FQ VI.x. 34.4-6. 
4. felly: fiercely. 

7. tree: In Pet 29, the tree is the "Lawrell." 

8. ruinate: bring ruin to. 

10. Tocke amidst the raging floods: See evening prayer Ps. 93.4-5 for Tuesday 19 

March: "TTie floodes are rysen TTie waues of the sea are mightie, and rage 

horribly." The day's second lesson at morning prayer, John 6.16-21, tells of the 
disciples' ship tossed by a storm; it parallels the account in Luke 8.22-25 with 
which Am. 34, "Lyke as a ship," corresponds. See also Pet 21-24. Fletcher, 
Ucia, Sonet 8.6-7, also associates the tiger and rock: "My sighes, that rocke, 
like wind it cannot rent, / Too Tyger-like you sweare, you cannot loue." 

Tuesday 19 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 90-92, John 6. Evening Prayer: Pss. 93-94, 1 Tim. 2 & 3. 

Sonnet 57 

In preparation for the theme of mutuality and sanctification of the flesh which will 
mark subsequent sonnets. Sonnet 57 marks the end of the war. 

1. Street warriour: The epithet places the poem within the tradition of similar 

epithets, e.g., Du Bellay, L'Olive, 70, "6 ma douce guerriere." TTie locus classicus 
was Petrarch, Rime 21, "Mille fiate, o dolce mia guerrera, / per aver co' begli 
occhi vostri pace." Tlie poem resembles the warfare sonnet. Am. 11.1-4, with 
its epithet, "cruell warriour." 

haue peace mth you: Petrarch's "per aver . . . pace." 

2. High time: Petrarch's "fiate." 

3. sue: 1. pursue, prosecute; 2. secondarily, woo or court, the warfare is thus identi- 

fied with the poet's courtship (see Am. 11.1 note). 

4. your incessant battry: Reversing the direction of the "incessant battery" of Am. 


6. should hue a iot: the smallest bit (of time), whit (as in the second lesson at morn- 

ing prayer for Wednesday 20 March, John 7.23, "euery whit"). 

7. through launced euery where: 1. lanced, pierced throughout — compare 1611 

emendation, "through-launced"; 2. the association of arrows being launched or 
discharged is also present. 

8. thousand arrowes, which your eies haue shot: transferred from Petrarch's "mille 

fiate," although the number of a thousand arrows was standard, e.g., Petrarch, 
Rime, 86.2, "mille strali"; see Am. 8.5-6 &. 12.1 notes. 

10. stoures: 1. assaults, even 'death-struggle' {OED sb. 2); 2. times of coriflict — a 

1 1 . what glory can he got: The question reflects the misplaced glory cited by Christ 
in John 7.18, "He that speaketh of him self, seketh his owne glorie: but he that 
seketh his glorie that sent him, the same is true." 

12. in slaying him . . , : The lady's incessant attempts to slay the poet reflect the 
attempts to kill Christ, recounted in John 7, "for the lewes soght to kil him" (v. 
1), and the repeated question, "Is not this he, whome they go about to kil?" (v. 
25; see vv. 19, 20). 

13. timely grace: 1. in short time; 2. in good time; see John 7.6 & 8, "My time is not 
yet come: but your time is alway readie." 

Commentary 187 

14. little space: space of time — see John 7.33. "Yet am I a litle while with you" 

(koine, fiiKpov xp^vov = smallest time). 
Wednesday 20 March: Morning Prayer: Pss. 95-97, John 7. Evening Prayer: Pss. 98-101, 1 Tim. 4. 

Sonnets 58 and 59 

The vanity of the world was a frequent topic of meditation and Sonnet 58 and its 
adversative, Sonnet 59, reflect the proper assessment of the world made elsewhere 
in Van 152-54: 

Why do vaine men mean things so much deface, 

And in their might repose their most assurance, 

Sith nought on earth can chalenge long endurance? 
Both sonnets reflect the full range of scriptural readings for Thursday 2 1 and 
Friday 2 March, each corresponding to the readings for both days. 

Sonnet 58 

1. B> her that is most assured to her selfe: The superscription, unique in the sequence, 

is the sequence's only instance of visual imaging. The final verse of 1 Tim. 4, 
the chapter preceding the second lesson at evening prayer for Thursday 21 
March, 1 Tim. 5, with which Sonnet 58 corresponds, has attached to it a long 
sidenote, the last part of which, to avoid its extending down beyond the bottom 
of the chapter, has in frequent Geneva Bibles been run across between the 
chapters as a one-line extension. TTiere thus appears in many Geneva Bibles a 
line above 1 Tim. 5, in a different font and with the appearance of a short 
superscription, which runs "if/iic/i is an assurance of thy saluation." Spenser's own 
superscription mirrors the apparent Geneva version one. 

By her: 1. concerning; Martz 163 cites as evidence Gascoigne, A Huruireth 
Sundrie Flowers (ed. C. T. Prouty [1942]) 114.10 & 115.12, "He began to write 
by a gentlewoman" and "Another Sonet written by the same Gentlewoman 
vppon the same occasion," with its masculine signature, "Si fortunatus ir\foe- 
lix"; 2. written by; if so, then the lady is presented as author of the sonnet, who 
signs herself, most assured (see line 14 note). The following adversative Am. 59 
is the pxDet's reply. 

2. Weake is th'assurance that iveake flesh reposeth: The judgement concerning the flesh 

corresponds to the incident of the woman taken in adultery, whom Christ 
refuses to judge, in the second lesson at morning prayer, John 8, "Ye iudge after 
the flesh: I iudge no man. And if I also iudge, my iudgement is true" (vv. 15- 
16; see FQ I.x. 1.1-2, "What man is he, that boasts of fleshly might, / And 
vaine assurance of mortality"). The lady is likewise cautioned not to judge 
wrongly (lines 13-14). assurance (assurd): 1. self-confidence, self-reliance; 2. 
theologically, the assurance of salvation; 3. a betrothal (see Am. 42.12 and 

2-3. her: flesh's {caro is feminine). 

4-5. that soonest fals whenas she most supposeth I her selfe assurd: See Van 167-68, and 
Pet 79-81. 

6. All flesh is frayle: Proverbial, see Smith, Proverb Lore, 267, Whitney 217, Omm's 
caro foenum, and FQ VI. i. 41. 7, "All flesh is frayle." The aphorism reflects 
specifically the thrice repeated metaphor of man as grass in morning prayer Ps. 
102, "My heart is smitten downe, and withered like grasse" (v. 4), "My dayes 
are gonne like a shadow: and 1 am withered like grasse" (v. 1 1) and Ps. 103.15 

188 Commentary 

(with its headnote gloss in the Geneva Version, "Thefrailtie of mans life"), "The 
dayes of man are but as grasse: for he florisheth as a flowre of the fielde." Grass 
is identified as flesh in Isa. 40.6-7, "All flesh is grasse, and all the grace thereof 
is as the floure of the field. The grasse withereth, the floure fadeth, because the 
Spirit of the Lord bloweth vpon it" with its sidenote, "The Spirit of God shal 
discouer the vanitie in all that seme to haue anie excellencie of them selues." 
. (See 1 Pet. 1.24, "For all flesh is as grasse, and all the glorie of man is as the 
flower of grasse. The grasse withereth, and the flower falleth away.") 

vnstayd: unsupported; in Am. 59. 11, "the stay of her owne stedfast might" 
is commended. 

7. like a vaine bubble: See Van 152. Paralleling the second lesson at evening prayer 

for 22 March, 1 Tim. 6, "vaine bablings" (v. 20) and "he is pufte vp and 
knoweth nothing" (v. 4). Proverbial, see Whitney 217, Omnis caro foenum, 3-4, 
"like bubbles small," and Smith, Proverb Lore, 79 who cites Varro, De Re 
Rustica, 1. 1.1, "si est homo bulla (= bubble, trifle, or vanity)." The line is 
probably suggestive — as indeed are the poem's references to nought (see Am. 
51.7-8 note), bulla being associated both with <l)OXA,ov = a flower petal and 
^aXXdq = phallus (bubble's associative bauble/babble was used bawdily of a 
phallus, see Shakespeare, RJ Il.iii.95, "to hide his bauble in a hole"). 

blowen vp with ayre: SC Feb., 87, "For Youngth is a bubble blown vp with 
breath," is glossed, appositely for Spenser and his betrothed, as "A verye moral 
and pitthy Allegoric of youth, and the lustes thereof, compared to a wearie 
wayfaring man." 

8. deuouring tyme . . . prayd: Ovid's "Tempus edax rerum" (Met. 15.234) was prover- 

bial; see morning prayer Ps. 102.3, "For my dayes are consumed awaye lyke 

10-11. Ne none so rich or wise, so strong or fayre, I but fayleth trusting on his owne 

assurance: The admonition corresponds to Paul's advice, 1 Tim. 6.17, "Charge 

them that are riche in this worlde, that they be not high minded, and that they 

trust not in vncerteine riches." 
14-15. misdeeme so farre, I that to your selfe ye most assured arre: The pharisees' 

misjudgement is similarly condemned in John 8.15-16. 
15. >e most assured: 'yours assured' was a corrunon closing to sixteenth century 


Thursday 21 March: Momir^ Prayer: Pss. 102-103, John 8. Evening Prayer: Ps. 104, 1 Tim. 5. 

Sonnet 59 

The adversative sonnet to Sonnet 58 extends the correspondence with the second 
lessons at evening prayer for 21 and 22 March, 1 Tim. 5 and 6. It similarly identifies 
the disorder of the flesh and the natural disorder of the raging seas that is allegori- 
cally developed in FQ III. iv. 8-10. The motif of the ship tossed by a storm is else- 
where used to describe temperance (FQ ll.ii.24). The sonnet, like Shakespeare's 
Sonnet 36, is punctuated throughout with references from the BCP, marriage 

1-2, Thrise happie she . . . setled so in hart: Compare the happiness of the Red Cross 
Knight at his marriage, "Thrise happy man the knight himselfe did hold, / 
Possessed of his Ladies hart and hand" {FQ I.xii.40.6). The ceremony is con- 
cluded with a nautical metaphor not unlike that here (see FQ I.xii.42). 

Commentary 189 

1/9. assured I assurance: See Am. 58.2 note 3: betrothed; compare BCP, marriage 
service, "For be ye well assured. ..." 

3-4. for better . . . I with worse: See BCP, marriage service, "for better, for worse." 

4. start: depart (OED 4e). 

5-6. steddy ship . . . I the raging waues: Contrasting happiness with the dangers of sea- 
faring reflects the imagery in Paul's claim, 1 Tim. 6.8-9, "let vs therewith be 
content. For they that wil be riche, fall into tentation and snares, and into 
many foolish and noysome lustes, which drowne men in perdition and destruc- 
tion" (6.8-9). 

7. depart: 1. deviate from; 2. secondarily, separate, put asunder, thus continuing the 

BCP's marriage service association, "till death vs depart." 

8. false delist: Compare EXiessa's false claim, "For Loue is free, and led with selfe 

delight" {FQ lV.i.46.8). 
9-10. need notfeare the spight I of grudging foes: See 1 Tim. 6.2, "let them not despise 
them." In FQ IV.ix.14, Poena, having reformed her "lewd loues and lust 
intemperate" (7), is married to the lowlie Squire and thenceforth "ne spite of 
enemis / Could shake the safe assuraunce of their state." 

10. fauour seek of friends: The societal precondition to marriage, see FQ II. iv. 2 1.3, 
"Accord of friends, consent of parents sought." 

11. stay: 1. continuance; 2. reliance, even self-reliance; 3. nautically, the ropes 
which support a mast. 

stedfast: firmly fixed like a pillar or mast. 

12. bends: inclines; nautically the stays keep the mast upright and unbending 
towards either side. 

13. rest: 1. is settled; 2. is reposed — see Am. 58.2, reposeth. 

14. such one: ambiguous: either 1. one is the subject of loues, hence the poet is most 
happy because she (such a one) loves him best; or 2. one is the object of loues, 
hence the p>oet is most happy because he loues such a (Most happy) one. Or it is 
both — hence the complementarity of the betrotheds' assurance is underscored. 

Friday 22 March: Morning Prayer: Ps. 105, John 9. Evening Prayer: Ps. 106, 1 Tim. 6. 

Sonnet 60 

Sonnet 60 takes stock of the year passed, Spenser choosing the penultimate day of 
the year to commemorate its passing, because 24 March, the final day, was the feast 
of Palm Sunday in 1594 and required a festive sonnet. Reckonings of time were 
frequent among sonneteers. Spenser's numberings here have since the eighteenth 
century been used to calculate the year of his birth (see line 8 note). His knowlege 
of astronomy was not, as Harvey indicated of his earlier work, a limited one, but, as 
the calendrical niceties of Epith. show, complex and precise. 

1 . They that in course of heauenly spheares are skild: Harvey in his copy of Dionysius 

Periegetes' Surveye of the World (1572) complains of Spenser's culpable ignorance 
of astronomy, "Pudet ipsum Spenserum, etsi Sphaerae, astrolabiique non plane 
ignarum; suae in astronomicis Canonibus, tabulis, instrumentisque imperitiae" 
{Marginalia [ed. Moore Smith] 162). Evidently his expertise had grown by the 
time Epith. came to be written. 

course: passage; see Am. 62.2, "compast course." 

2. sundry: separate, individual; possibly chosen because of its suggestive association 

with sun. 

190 Commentary 

4. Mars; in the Ptolemaic system, where the normal form of a planet's orbit was 

thought circular, that of Mars was observed to be the most eccentric, see FQ 
VII.vii.52.1-4. Dodge (cited in Variorum, Minor Poems, 2.440) writes, "TTie 
planetary "yeare" to which Spenser refers is apparently the period of "resti- 
tution," that during which a planet, leaving a given position with regard to the 
sun, will return to that same position; the period, in other words, during which 
the revolutions of the planet in its epicycle and of the sun in its orbit will bring 
both back to the same relative position (of course, only approximate). For Mars, 
Ptolemy reckons this period at 79 years." (See Yale 636 which cites Almagest 
9.3.) In fact, the earth, sun, and Mars are again in a straight line after 60.19 
years. TTie numeral 60 coincides with the sonnet's number; this is the last of the 
martial sonnets, suggesting that Mars has indeed run his course. 

5. winged God: Cupid. 

his planet cleare: a reference to the brightness of Venus. 

6. one year is spent: Petrarch likewise takes stock in the penultimate sonnet of the 

Rime, the 364th out of 365: 

Tennemi Amor anni ventuno ardendo 
lie to nel foco e nel duol pien di speme; 
poi che Madonna e '1 mio cor seco inseme 
saliro al ciel, dieci altri anni piangendo. 

8. then al those fourty which m)! life outwent: If the number forty is in any way 

accurate, it suggests 1553/54 as the year of Spenser's birth. Such a date would 
also fit well the date of his matriculation at Cambridge University, 20 May 1569 
(see Variorum, Minor Poems, 2.439-40). 

9. louers hooks: Associated with Lechery in FQ I.iv.25.8, "read in louing bookes." 

inuent: 1. discover; 2. devise or even fabricate. 
10-11. Proverbial, see Smith, Proverb Lore, 461. 

\1>. my loues fayre Planet: Venus occurs again in Epith. 282, "Hast thee O fayrest 
Planet to thy home." 

short: Spenser's only usage as a verb: 1. shorten her orbit, reduce the time 
of the coming earth year; 2. advance the date of; 3. mathematically, be short 
when calculating. 
14. this yeare ensuing: this approaching year. 

or else short my dayes: Possibly reflecting evening prayer Ps. 109.7, "Let his 
dayes be fewe." Otherwise the sonnet bears little comparison with any of the 
proper psalms or lessons for Saturday 23 March. 

Saturday 23 March: Morning Prayer: Ps. 107, John 10. Evening Prayer: Pss. 108-09, 2 Tim. 1. 

Sonnet 61 

The sonnet, which commemorates Palm Sunday, 25 March in 1594, intervenes 
between sonnets acknowledging the year past and the year to come, and Spenser 
has called upon an earlier episode which celebrates the same occasion in FQ 
II. ii. 40-42. There Elizabeth I's annual bestowing of the Order of Maidenhood is 
recorded: "An yearely solemne feast she wontes to make / The day that first doth 
lead the yeare around" (42.6-7). The queen is addressed as the "Great and most 
glorious virgin Queene aliue, / That with her soueraigne powre . . . (40.3-4) / In her 
the richesse of all heauenly grace / In chiefe degree are heaped vp on bye / And all 
that else this worlds enclosure bace ... (41.1-3) / Adornes the person of her 

Commentary 191 

Maiestie; / That men . . . / Do her adore with sacred reuerence, / As th'Idole of her 

makers great magnificence." (41.5-9). 

1-2. glorious image of the makers beautie . . . Idoll of my thought: See headnote, FQ 
II.ii.41.9. The epithets establish the lady as of heavenly making — thus contrary 
to the associations of evening prayer Ps. 115.4, "Their idoles are siluer and 
golde: euen the worke of mens hands." 

2. My souerayne saynt: See headnote, FQ II.ii.40.3, & IV. Pr.4.2, where Elizabeth 

I is addressed as, "that sacred Saint my soueraigne Queene." 

3. dare not henceforth aboue the bounds of dewtie I t'accuse of pride, or rashly blame for 

ought: An instruction to the poet himself (identified in line 14 as among the 
men of meane degree), which gives the poem a sense of future resolve. He may, 
seemingly, accuse or blame her when it is his duty, but not otherwise, such as on 
those prior occasions when poetic convention or hyperbole allowed. 

5. dxuinAy sxrrought: 1. the manner of her being made; 2. the divine origin of her 

being made. 

6. of the brood of Angels heuenly borne: See the description of Una, "the Virgin borne 

of heauenly brood," Belphoebe, "So was this virgin borne," and Cambina, who 
"seemed borne of Angels brood" {FQ l.iii.8.7; III. vi. 3.6 & IV.iv.39.7). 

brood: 1. of the family or lineage of angels; 2. the implied sense, 'of angelic 
contemplation' (brood), cannot be discounted. 

heuenly: as in diuinely (5), both 1. the manner of her being borne; and 2. 
the heavenly origin of her birth. 

borne: 1. brought forth into existence, generated; 2. in a transferred sense, 
of a heavenly condition — as in the phrase, 'a bom Englishman*; 3. homonymi- 
cally, carried, sustained. 

The line also uses morning prayer Ps. 1 10.3, "the deawe of thy birth is of 
the wombe of the morning," an Old Testament analogue for the conception 
and birth of Christ announced to the Blessed Virgin by an angel (see Roche 
105-6), by drawing on the passage that narrates the conception and birth of 
Belphoebe for which the psalm verse also provided the basis {FQ 111. vi. 3. 1-7): 
"Her berth was of the wombe of Morning dew, / And her conception of the 
ioyous Prime, / And all her whole creation did her shew / Pure and vnspotted 
from all loathly crime, / That is ingenerate in fleshly slime. / So was this virgin 
borne, so was she bred, / So was she trayned vp." Significantly for the eve of 
Christ's conception (25 March) Spenser has celebrated the lady's conception as 
an analogue of Christ's (see Am. 1.11 note). 

7. vpbrought: 1. raised and educated; 2. homonymically, as in borne (6), raised up, 

"exalted" (see lines 13-14 note). 

9. The bud ofioy, the blossome of the mome: See Ps. 1 10.3 "the deawe of thy birth is 
of the wombe of the morning." Johnson, ''Amoretti and the Art of the Liturgy," 
55 notes that Palm Sunday was also known as Blossom Sunday and Flowering 

11-12. Scorn I base things: The phrase {Fuge turpia) was proverbial — see Am. 5.6 & 

13-14. Such heauenly formes . . . men of meane degree. In the first instance heauenly 
formes retains its Neo-Platonic associations, but the sonnet's claim about the 
lady's heavenly origin corresponds exactly to that of the feast's Epistle, the 
hymn of Phil. 2.5-12, which acclaims the "glorie" of Christ, who "being in the 
forme of God, thoght it no robbery to be equal with God" (v. 6; the thought is 

192 Commentary 

evident earlier in diuinely wrought (5) and heuenly home [6]). The paradox 
between heauenly formes and men of meane degree (= not gently bom, servants) 
further corresponds with that, acclaimed in Philippians, which contrasts Christ 
"being in the forme of God" with his action when he "made him self of no 
reputation, and toke on him the forme of a seruant, and was made like vnto 
men" (v. 7). 

worshipt: exactly matching the purpose of the paradox in Phil. 2.9-10, 
"Wherefore God hathe also highly exalted him, and giuen him a Name aboue 
euerie name. That at the Name of lesus shulde euerie knee bowe," with its 
Geneva version sidenote g, "Worship, and be subiect to him." See also Ps. 
110.3, "holy worship." 

Palm Sunday 24 March: Epistle: Phil. 2.5-12. Gospel: Matt. 26.1-27.57. Morning Prayer: Pss. 

110-13, John 11. Evening Prayer: Pss. 114-15, 2 Tim. 2. 

Sonnet 62 

Sonnet 62 celebrates the change from the old to the new year on March 25, a 
commencement date debated by Spenser in the Generall Argument to SO, "For it 
is wel known and stoutely mainteyned with stronge reasons of the learned, that the 
yeare beginneth in March. For then the sonne reneweth his finished course, and the 
seasonable spring refiresheth the earth." Tlie annual return of the year becomes a 
pattern of the seasonable return to grace for the poet and his betrothed. (Yale 637 
notes that if the 89 amoretti, the 9 anacreontic verses, and the 24 stanzas of Epithala- 
mion are totalled, numerically Sonnet 62 marks the beginning of the volume's 
second part.) 

In structure the sonnet anticipates the Cranmerian prayer structure of Easter 
Sunday's Am. 68. Like Am. 68 it uses the first person plural pronoun as the subject 
of the prayer — its first occurrence in the sequence. 

1. yeare: By coincidence the Epistle for the Monday before Easter, Isa. 63, contrasts 

the "olde time" with the present and celebrates the new year to come, "the 
yere of my redemed is come" (v. 4). 

2. compost course: circular passage or progress; that which can be described with 

compasses — matching the repeated detail in morning prayer Pss. 1 16.3, "com- 
passed me round about," and 118.10, "compassed me rounde about." It is a 
term of temporal measurement in Am. 60.1 , "the course of heauenly spheares," 
in FQ lll.vii.55.3 & Ro 22.9. 

4. betokening: signifying, one of only two usages by Spenser; the word looks forward 

to the rewards of Easter. 

5. So let vs: the pronoun occurs only 3 times in the sequence, see Am. 68.13 (for 

Easter Sunday) and Am. 87.7 (for Expectation Sunday). 

6. chaunge eeke our mynds: A prayer proper to Lent and a translation of iiExavo^o) 

= to change the mind, to be converted, to repent (the Geneva Bible's normal 
rendering). The equivalent instruction is frequent in the day's readings, see Isa. 
63.17, "Retume (Vulgate, convertere) for thy seruants sake," the day's second 
lesson at morning prayer, John 12.40, "and shulde be conuerted" (Vulgate, 
convertantur), and Ps. 116.7, "Tume againe then vnto thy rest, O my soule 
(Vulgate, convertere anima mea)." 
10. into the gloomir^ world his gladsome ray: See John 12.46, "I am come a light into 
the worldc . . . darknesse" (see also vv. 35-36). 
glooming: appearing dark. 

Commentary 193 

11. blend: blinded, blemished. In imitation of the prophecy of Isa. 6.9, appealled to 
in John 12.40, "He hathe blinded their eyes . . . that they . . . and shulde be 
conuerted" (koine, ^TtiaTacfxoaiv = to turn oneself away from, an equivalent 
to liExavo^co; the two terms were often yoked together, see Acts 3.19). Spenser 
apparently knew that the verb was used traditionally to describe the circular 
course of the heavenly bodies, see Homer, Od. 5.274. 

12. timely: 1. in time; 2. seasonably or opportunely, see Am. 4.9. 

13-14. See Am. 4.3-4, "and bidding th'old Adieu, his passed date / bids all old 
thoughts to die in dumpish spright." 

13. heauy spright: TTie change of adjective from Am. 4.4, "dumpish sprite," fits the 
repeated detail of the day's Gospel, Mark 14.34, "My soule is verie heauie" (see 
v. 38, "the spirit in dede is readie," & v. 40), and evening prayer Ps. 119.28, 
"My soule melteth away for very heauines." 

Monday 25 March, Monday afore Easter: Epistle: Isa. 63.1-19. Gospel: Mark 14.1-72. Morning 
Prayer: Pss. 116-118, John 12. Evening Prayer: Ps. 119.1-32, 2 Tim. 3. 

Sonnet 63 

The sonnet continues the theme of a change in weather, established in Sonnet 59 

with its steady ship which parts the "raging waues and keepes her course aright," 

and sustained in Sonnet 62, with its images of a course run and storms turned to 


1-4. The topos of the storm-tossed bark was commonplace (see Am. 34 & 59), as 
was its steering a course towards the safety of port, e.g., Petrarch, Rime, 151.1-4, 
"Non d'atra e tempestosa onde marina / fuggio in porto gia mai stanco noc- 
chiero, / com' io dal fosco e torbido pensero / fiiggo ove '1 gran desio mi sprona 
e 'nchina." (Compare Ariosto, Lirica, 3.28, "O sicuro, secreto e fidel porto," du 
Bellay, Les Regrets, 34, "Comme le marinier que le creul orage," and Ronsard's 
version. Amours Diverses, 13.) The conceit echoes Paul's statement in the 
second lesson at evening prayer for the Tuesday before Easter 26 March, 2 Tim. 
4.6-7, "the time of my departing is at hand. 1 haue foght a good fight, and haue 
finished my course." Like the Palmer's benediction, in a passage also drawing on 
2 Tim. 4.6-7 ("Must now anew begin, like race to runne; / God guide thee, 
Guy on, well to end thy warke, / And to the wished hauen bring thy weary 
barke" [FQ II. i. 32. 7-9]), the poet presents his completed course as a bark safely 
arriving at a haven. (For the image of departing and arriving see the day's 
Epistle, Isa. 50.5-11, "nether turned I backe" (v. 5), its second lesson at 
morning prayer, John 13, "Whither 1 go, can ye not come" (v. 33 and passim) 
and "he shulde departe out of this worlde" (v. 1), and in 2 Tim. 4.9, "Make 
spede to come vnto me atonce," and 21, "Make spede to come before winter.") 
assay: trial, test. 

2. endured: See morning prayer Ps. 1 19.89, "O Lorde, thy woorde: endureth for euer 
in heauen." 

4. silly: 1. defenseless; 2. weak, poor — contrasting with deare and daynty (8). 

7. soyle: land, often one's proper homeland. 

fraught: 1. filled; 2. nautically of a ship, laden. 
8-9. happy . . . rest: Compare the poet's "happy rest" in Am. 76.13. 

8. daynty: 1. tenderly beautiful; 2. from its etymon dignitatem, worthy, precious. 

9. Most happy he: Recalling Am. 59.13-14, "most happy she . . . / but he most 


194 Commentary 

12. remembrance: The only occasion Spenser uses the word in Amoretti and match- 
ing morning prayer Ps. 119.59, "I called mine owne wayes to remembrance." 

14. sorrowes: TTie poet's sorrow reflects the biblical archetype of the sorrowful 
servant, celebrated in the day's Epistle, Isa. 50.11, "ye shal lie downe in 

Tuesday 26 March, Tuesday afore Easter: Epistle: Isa. 50.5-11. Gospel: Mark 15.1-47. Moming 

Prayer: Ps. 119.33-72, John 13. Evening Prayer: Ps. 119.73-104, 2 Tim. 4. 

Sonnet 64 

The sonnet's opening reference to kiss is the only overtly physical reference in a 
sequence otherwise devoid of physical touch. Its flowers, moreover, are not chosen 
because of their particular odors, but are fashioned to hide a series of love-knots and 
word-plays. The sonnet thereby differs from the popular blason, whose conventions 
Spenser observed exactly in Sonnet 15. 

1 . Comming to kisse her lyps: TTie conceit corresponds to the biblical topos of Judas' 

kiss, recounted in the Gospel proper to the Wednesday before Easter, Luke 
22.1-71: "he that was called ludas one of the twelue, went before them, and 
came nere vnto lesus to kisse him. And lesus said vnto him, ludas, betrayest 
thou the Sonne of man with a kisse?" (vv. 47-48). The betrayal takes place in 
the Garden of Gethsemane. 

grace: 1. pleasantness of taste or smell; 2. favor, goodness. 
1-2. (such grace I fourui) . . . a gardin of sweet flowres: The sonnet by not celebrating 
an act of perfidy but its opposite, grace, and by singing of a gardin of sweet 
flowres, reflects the day's special first lessons at moming and evening prayer, 
Hos. 13 and 14, chosen because Hosea, having condemned false prophets who 
offer false sacrifices, "Let them kisse the calues" (13.2), asks that a song be on 
Israel's lips, "receiue vs graciously: so wil we render the calues of our lippes" 
(14.2). His song is of a sweet-smelling garden: "I wil be as the dewe vnto Israel: 
he shal growe as the lilie and fasten his rootes as the trees of Lebanon. His 
branches shal spreade, and his beautie shalbe as the oliue tre, and his smel as 
Lebanon . . . they shal reuiue as the come, and florish as the vine: the sent 
thereof s/ui/i»e as the wine of Lebanon" (vv. 5-7). The items in Spenser's sweet- 
smelling garden generally differ from Hosea's com, vine, olive and fir tree, the 
exception being "lilie." 

2. smelt: See line 1 note, Hos. 14.6-7, "smel . . . sent." Medieval and Renaissance 

tropology linked and identified Hosea's Israel-garden, the chosen people, the 
elect, the Song of Solomon's hortus inclusus ("My sister, my spouse is as a garden 

inclosed Tliy plantes are as an orcharde of pomegranates with swete frutes 

... let my welbeloued come to his garden, and eat his pleasant frute" [4.12- 
161), and sweet-smelling flowers. See Trapp 266, commenting upon Hos. 14.6-8, 
"by flowers . . . are vnderstood . . . the first fruits of the Spirit, whereby the Elect 
giue a pleasant smell." 

5-10. Gillyflowers . . . Pincks . . . Cullarnbynes: Compare the only other occasion 
when Spenser invokes these flowers, SC April, 136-37, "Bring hether the 
Pincke and purple Cullambine, / With Gelliflowres." 

5. Gillyflowers: 1. a plant with flowers scented like a clove; 2. probably also gill = a 
giddy young woman (OED 4) + flower. 

7. browes lyke budded Bellamoures: {bel = fair + amour = love); the only certain use 
of the word as a flower, although see FQ II. vi. 16.7, where Belamoure is possibly 

Commentary 195 

a flower. Either 1. the "floure Armour," which Hill 105 describes as "like to an 
ear of come"; or 2. Bellamoures are no flowers at all but loving glances identical 
to belgards (Italian, bel = beautiful + guardo = look) — see FQ ll.iii, 25, 2-3, 
"Vnder the shadow of her euen browes, / Working belgards." Fowler, Conceitful 
Thought, 96 contends that Bellamoure is not a flower "but a love glance, which 
will bloom as the young lady's budded brow opens." 

8. eyes lyke Pincks: Pink — the general name of the species Dianthus, which has 

variegated sweet-smelling flowers. Dianthus = Si-avGfiq = double-flowering, a 
flower appropriate to the eyes. 

9. Straivberry bed: more physical than emblematic, although strawberries were 
omnipresent in medieval and Renaissance iconography. 

10. neck . . . bounch of Cullambynes: an extended etymological pun: 1. collum = neck 
+ bynde = bunch {OED bind 9); but 2. also columbine: like a dove (= columba) 
or of the color of a dove's neck {OED 3). 

11. lillyes: See lines 1-2 note, Hos. 14.5, "he shal growe as the lilie." 

12. lessemynes: Jasmine or Gethsamine (see Turner, Herbal, 2.19.b, "lesemin or 
Gethsamine"). The only occurence in Spenser and a probable ultimate crypto- 
gram, the locus of the day's reading being the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Wednesday afore Easter, 27 March: Epistle: Heb. 9.16-28. Gospel: Luke 22.1-71. Morning Prayer: 
Ps. 119.105-144, Hos. 13, John 14; Evening Prayer: Ps. 119.145-176, Hos. 14, Tit. 1. 

Sonnet 65 

The sonnet's argument, one of the weightier and more complex of the sequence, 
affirms the betrotheds' perfect love and sets the nature of their forthcoming mar- 
riage within the context of the new covenant of grace. As such, it befits the 
TTiursday before Easter, Maundy Tliursday, whose second lesson at morning prayer 
in 1594, John 15, celebrates the institution of the new covenant, a feature of which 
is Christ's maruiatum, "As the Father hathe loued me, so haue I loued you: continue 

in my loue This is my commandement, that ye loue one another, as 1 haue 

loued you. Greater loue then this hathe no man, when any man bestoweth his life 
for his friends" (John 15.9 & 12-13; Kaske, " 'Amoretti' 68," 518 wrongly appoints 
John 15 as the second lesson at morning prayer for March 27). For the coincidence 
of readings for the feast days of Maundy TTiursday and St. Barnabas, June 1 1 , see 
Introduction, p. 46. Maundy Thursday was also associated with marriage in 1594 
through Ps. 128, one of the day's psalms at evening prayer, which was also read 
during the marriage service. 

1-4. The captive lover is a common enough Petrarchist conceit, as indeed is the 
poet's reassuring the lady that she will, in contrast, gain a further liberty by 
ensnaring that of the poet (e.g., Amoret's "wished freedome" [FQ IV. x. 37. 5]). 
But Spenser's idea that through marriage two new liberties are gained is poeti- 
cally unusual: both partners will share the new freedom that the holiness of 
marriage sanctions, although paradoxically, the poet concludes, he, who once 
was afeared of being bound, will thereby be bonded. 

1 . misdeeme: wrongly judge. 

2. fondly: foolishly — see the day's second lessons at evening prayer Tit. 3.9, "But 

stay foolish questions . . . and contentions ... for thei arre vnprofitable and 

feare: Perfect love is beyond fear in John's amplification of the day's 
maruiatum, "There is no feare in loue, but perfect loue casteth out feare: for 

196 Commentary 

feare hathe painfulnes: and he that feareth, is not perfect in loue" (1 John 4.18). 
loose: See the day's Gospel, Luke 23.16, "let him lowse" (see vv. 17, 22 & 
25, "he let lowse vnto them him that . . . was cast into prison"). 

5. hands: 1. fetters; 2. the sense of a betrothal or engagement is also present (see 

Am. 1.3); 3. band was also used of a covenant or league (OED 12), see Epith. 

6. constraynt: See morning prayer Ps. 120.4, "Wo is me, that I am constrained." 

7. gentle bird: Qjrresponding to the metaphor in morning prayer Ps. 124.6, "Our 

soule is escaped, euen as a birde out of the snare of the fouler: the snare is 
broken, and we are deliuered (Vulgate, liberati sumus = gain liberty [3])." 

captiuity: See evening prayer Ps. 126.5, "Tume our captiuitie, O Lord." 

8. nor discord spill: Compare the day's Epistle, 1 Cor. 11.18, Paul's complaint, "1 

heare that there are dissensions among you." 

discord: disharmony, with hearts apart {dis = apart + cor = heart), but with 
an implied sense of musical disharmony. The concord-discord antithesis was 
firmly rooted in Spenser's conception of the nature of things (see Variorum 
4.311), with concord nourishing virtue in the individual (e.g., FQ ll.ii.33.8-9). 
feeds her fill: Proverbial, see Smith, Proverb Lore, 256; see Am. 72.8, where 
the bird desires "to feed his fill." 
9-14. The sestet argues for the rightfulness of physical pleasure in marriage. Perfect 
love, because it is beyond the reach of pride, retains a prelapsarian goodness 
similar to that of the golden age, which is also "withouten . . . pride," and of 
which Spenser treats in FQ lV.viii.30: 
But antique age yet in the infancie 

Of time, did liue then like an innocent. 
In simple truth and blamelesse chastitie, 
Ne then of guile had made experiment. 
But voide of vile and treacherous intent. 
Held vertue for it selfe in soueraine awe: 
Then loyall loue had royall regiment. 
And each vnto his lust did make a lawe. 
From all forbidden things his liking to withdraw. 

Spenser similarly portrays the marriage of Una and the Red Cross Knight 
(FQ l.xii.20ff.) in edenic terms, drawing upon its customary biblical analogues. 
Revelations (19.7, "the mariage of the Lambe") and the Song of Solomon. 

10. league: covenant — a term reflecting a specific application of Protestant covenan- 
tal thought to marriage. Compare the impediment declared by Duessa before the 
marriage of the Red Cross Knight and Una, "Withhold, O soueraine Prince, 
your hasty bond / From knitting league with him, I you aread" (FQ l.xii.28.3-4). 

1 1 . simple: 1 . pure; 2. single — counterbalanced by mutuall; 3. by transference, simple 
was also used of a wound (12) without complications. 

mutuall good will: Compare the plighting of the Red Cross Knight and 
Guyon, "With right hands plighted, pledges of goodwill" (FQ II. i. 34. 2), and 
contrast the reprehensible egocentric "freewill" of Am. 10.4, and the proper 
"goodwill" of Am. 67.13. 

12. to salue each othes wound: hereafter wounds are not found in the sequence. 
13-14. Faith, appropriately in convcntal theology, renders an "indifferent" thing a 

spotlesse pleasure, and by remedying the lust of the flesh, absorbs its difficulties 
into the freedom awarded by the covenant of grace; see Epith. 192. 

Commentary 197 

13. fearelesse: See line 2 note, 1 John 14. 

brasen: of brass, therefore strong, such as the "brasen towre" in which 
Una's parents are imprisoned (FQ I.xi.3.2). 

tounre: Recalls the day's special first lesson at evening prayer, Jer. 31, where 
the prophet, writing of the re-establishment of the Old Testament covenant, 
makes of it a covenant between husband and wife ("I was an housband vnto 
them, saith the Lord" [v. 32]), and sees as a sign of its faithfulness and duration 
a tower and a new city: "the citie shalbe buylt to the Lord from the tower of 
Hananeel, vnto the gate of the comer" (v. 38). 

14. spotless pleasure: In the locus amoenus of love-making, the Temple of Venus, 
where the edenic associations are clear, pleasure is also without sin, "Their 
spotlesse pleasures, and sweet loues content" (FQ lV.x.26.2). See HL 287. 

Thursday afore Easter, 28 March: Epistle: 1 Cor. 11.17-34. Gospel: Luke 23.1-56. Morning 
Prayer: Pss. 120-125, Dan. 9, John 15. Evening Prayer: Pss. 126-131, Jer. 31, Tit. 2 & 3. 

Sonnet 66 

TTie sonnet, which corresponds to the feast of Good Friday, 29 March, is, like the 
preceding Sonnet 65, preoccupied with marriage, initially in a humorous vein, 
although its good-natured bantering cedes place to the weighty reciprocity of its 
final couplet. Tlie primary notion of disparagement (3) as a marriage to one of baser 
rank, the secondary notion of paragon (5) as a consort in marriage, together with 
mate (6), matchable (7), sorted (10) and pere (10) all contribute to the marital theme. 
Tlie final paradox of light and dark is an appropriate contrast for Good Friday, when 
the light of Christ is opposed, in the gospel's phrase, to "darkenes ouer all the 
land." Because the lady's light has illumined the poet, his light will reflect back on 
her and, because each will enhance the other, a mutuality accrues to both. (If the 
poem is construed as an address to Christ, then the light of the final couplet is also 
Christ's light which has enlumind the poet. As in the conclusion to Am. 68, the 
reflection between Christ and the poet is emphasized, as well as the reflection 
between the poet and the lady. The light, of course, is the same.) 
1-2. blessings I heauen: Compare morning prayer Pss. 134.4, "The Lord that made 

heauen and earth: giue thee blessing," and 133.3-4, "For there the Lorde 

promised his blessing: and life for euermore." 

2. throum: TTie sense of lots being thrown or cast down by fortune's (or providence's) 

hand is implied (see line 10 note, sorted, and Am. 82.2 note, "lot"). 

3. disparagement: 1. The disgrace of a marriage to one of inferior, non-gentle, rank, 

see FQ VI. x. 37. 5, "base disparagement"; 2. a lowering of dignity or esteem, 
despisedness (see HB 162-165) — such as afflicted the suffering "seruant" in the 
day's special first lesson at evening prayer for the feast, Isa. 53.3, who "was 
dispised and we estemed him not." 

4. so meane a one: Reflecting both Isaiah's suffering "seruant" (53.1 1) and the day's 

second lesson at evening prayer, Phil. 1.16, "Not now as a seruant, but aboue 
a seruant, euen as a brother beloued, specially to me." (In Am. 61.14, "men of 
meane degree," corresponds to Phil. 2.6, "the forme of a seruant," read for 
Palm Sunday 24 March.) 

5. paragon: 1. a pattern of excellence; 2. a mate, consort in marriage — see FQ 

VI. ix. 11.5, "To be a Princes Paragone esteemed." 

6. fit: 1. worthy; 2. made (see Am. 22.1 note). 

mate: 1. companion; 2. spouse. 

198 Commentary 

7. Matchable to none: 1. unequalled; 2. not joinable in marriage — a secondary 

5/8. high worths I lowly state: In contrast to evening prayer Ps. 138.6, "For though 
the Lorde be high, yet hath hee respect vnto the lowly." 

8. why did ye stoup vnto so lowly state?: A probable echo of Heb. 10.12-13, which 

makes the same comparison, "But this man . . . sitteth for euer at the right hand 
of God, And from hence forthe tarieth, til his enemies be made his fotestole," 
itself a coincidental echo of the psalm verse read at morning prayer Ps. 132.7, 
"fal low on our knees before his footestole." 

9. gate: had got; unusual and here for rhyme. 

10. sorted with: I. consorted with as a companion or mate — a unique usage in 
Spenser; 2. etymologically associated with heavenly fortune, fate, lot (= sors). A 
feature of the crucifixion account is the fulfilling of Isaiah's prophecy, "and on 
my coate did cast lottes" (Vulgate, sortem). 

peer: 1. equal in rank; 2. wife (OED sb 3). 

11. it selfe dilate: expand out from itself; see Nature's judgement with its Aristotelian 
sense of fulfillment, FQ Vll.vii.58.5, "But by their change their being doe 

12. darknesse: 1. recalls the crucifixion, when "there was a darkenes ouer all the 

land And the sunne was darkened" (Luke 23.44-45); 2. retains its Neo- 

Platonic sense of a shadow which is related to reality as the phenomenal world 
is related to the world of heavenly ideas, and thus echoes Good Friday's Epistle, 
Heb. 10.1, "For the La we hauing the shadowe of good things to come, and not 
the very image of the things." 

13. enlumind: illuminated, enlightened. 

14. reflex: 1. only used here and technically: the reflection of light from the sun, 
particularly as it rebounds from a region of darkness back into light (OED sb 1); 
2. Neo-Platonically, the dilating of the lady's light will illumine the poet, who, 
once illumined, will by reflex continue to enlarge — and fulfill — her light, see 
HB 176-82. 

Good Friday 29 March: Epistle: Heb. 10.1-25. Gospel: John 18.1-19.42. Morning Prayer: Pss. 
132-135, John 16. Evening Prayer: Pss. 136-38, Phil. 1. 

Sonnet 67 

Sonnet 67 comprises a web of related topoi, drawn from disparate sources, but all 
proper to the Evening before Easter, 30 March, and to the poet's forthcoming 
marriage-covenant (see Prescott, "Deer," 33-76 and Dasenbrock 43-44 for exten- 
sive treatments of the cervine topos). 

1 . Spenser has taken cognizance of the ancient liturgical tradition associated 
with Easter Evening, the procession of the catechumens to the font to be baptized, 
during which Ps. 42.1-2 was sung, "Like as the hart desireth the water brookes 
(Vulgate, ad fontes aquarum): so longeth (Geneva Bible, so panteth) my soule after 
thee, O God. My soule is a thirst for God, yea, euen for the liuing God: when shall 
I come to appreare before the presence of God?" The sonnet echoes the psalm's 
phrases in Lyke as (1), thirst (8), next hrooke (8), and its transference of the Geneva 
version's "so panteth" to the panting hounds (4). 

2. The sonnet belongs to the tradition of the chase, preserved in Petrarch's 
"Una Candida cerva" {Rime, 190), and imitated by many of his successors, including 
TaMO, "Questa fera gentil" {Rime, 2.429.1). Spenser echoes the spirit of the 

Commentary 199 

convention rather than the letter. He ignores, for example, the collar about the 
deer's neck and the only specific element he shares with either precedent is the 
"cangiato voler" of Tasso's gentle beast. 

3. Rather, Spenser has resorted to the cervine tradition's locus classicus, the 
account in Ovid, Met. 10.106-42, of Cyparissus, who, like Ps. 42, would lead his 
deer to water brooks: "Icervum] tu liquidi ducebas fontis ad undam" (122; Golding, 
(10.129), "thou to water springs him led"; like Petrarch's deer, Ovid's also has 
about its neck a collar inset with jewels 1113]). From Ovid Spenser has also drawn 
the details of the fearelesse (10) nature of the deer, as well as the sonnet's shady place 


4. Throughout the sonnet, and particularly through its pun on deareldeer, the 
hart remains an image of the spouse, whom the poet takes in hand and who is 
bound by her owne goodwill (12). The biblical analogue whose cervine association 
links marriage with baptism and thus underwrites the conceit was Prov. 5.18-19, 
"Let thy fountaine be blessed, and reioyce with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as 
the louing hinde and pleasant roe: let her breasts satisfie thee at all times, and delite 
in her loue continually." 

1. Lyke as: See headnote, Ps. 42.1; the custom of singing the canticle Sicut cervus 
during the procession of the catechumens to the font at the Easter Vigil had its 
roots in the early church. It was common to all pre-reformed Easter Vigil rites 
and was accepted into the 1570 Roman Missal of Pius V. 

1 & 3. weary . . . shady place: Reminiscent of the detail provided by Ovid, Met. 
10.128-29, with its action of the weary deer returning to the brook and its 
being accidentally discovered by the Cyparissus, "fessus (= weary) in herbosa 
posuit sua corpora terra / cervus et arborea (= shady) frigus ducebat ab umbra." 
Spenser uses the episode of Cyparissus, who of course killed the deer, in FQ 

3. sits downe: Compare morning prayer Ps. 139.1, "O Lord thou hast searched me 

out, and knowen me: thou knowest my downe sitting " 

4. beguiled: cheated; different from beguyld (14) which intends charmed or diverted. 
7. gentle deare: the association of hunting and marriage (here underwritten by the 

pun on deare = 1. dear; 2. deer) was commonplace, and is used by Spenser in 
the account of Amoret and Scudamour, FQ IV. x. 55. 6-8, "but 1 which all that 
while / The pledge of faith, her hand engaged held, / Like warie Hynd within 
the weedie soyle." In FQ Scudamour is both the hunter who has ambushed 
Amoret, and also the hunted deer whose refuge Amoret is. Tlie same image is 
used at their reunion, "Like as a Deare, that greedily embayes / In the coole 
soile, after long thirstinesse, / Which he in chace endured hath, now nigh 
breathlesse." {FQ (1590), IIl.xii.44.7-9). See also Tasso, Rime, 2.429.1.1-8: 
Questa fera gentil, ch'in si crucciosa 

Fronte fuggia pur dianzi i vostri passi 

Fra spini e sterpi, e dirupati sassi, 

Strada ad og'nor prendendo erta, e dubbiosa; 
Or, cangiato voler, d'onestaposa 

Vaga, discende ai sentier piani e bassi, 

E, quasi ogni durezza indietro lassi, 

Incontro vi si fa lieta e vezzosa. 
Spenser identifies the "fera gentil" as a deer when he translates Petrarch's 
"fera gentil" (Rune, 323.8) as "a Hynde" in Pet 4 & 9. 

200 Commentary 

8. beholding: seeing, looking, but its origin, 'be + hold,' is reflected later in in her 
hand . . . tooke (11). 

thirst: See headnote, Ps. 42.2, and compare evening prayer Ps. 143.6, "my 
soule gaspeth vnto thee as a thirstie land." 

10. sought not to fly: See evening prayer Ps. 142.5, "I had no place to flee vnto." 

fearelesse: TTie deer in Ovid's account of Cyparissus shows the same fearless 
nature, allowing men to take it and soothe it with their hands, "isque metu 
vacuus naturalique pavore / . . . mulcendaque coUa / quamlibet ignotis manibus 
praebere solebat" (Met. 10.117-19; Golding, 10.124-26, "This goodly Spitter 
beeing voyd of dread, as hauing quyght / Forgot his natiue fearefulnesse, . . . / 
Would suffer folk ... to coy him with theyr hand." 

11. in hand . . . her tooke: See morning prayer Ps. 139.9, "Euen there also shall thy 
hande leade me: and thy right hand shall hold me." In Epith. 238-39 a similar 
hesitancy occurs. 

halfe trembling: trembling is generally quivering brought on by fear or appre- 
hension. The qualifier's antecedent remains open, implying mutuality: either 1 . 
the deare is the lady, and because it is now fearelesse, the shaking, in its dimin- 
ished form, appears as a continuing after-effect; or 2. the poet, consequent upon 
his own weariness, is halfe trembling. 

11-12. hand . . . goodwill: See FQ 11. i. 34. 2, the leave-taking of the Red Cross Knight 
and Guyon, "With right hands plighted, pledges of good will." TTie sonnet's 
goodiviU. contrasts with the reprehensible (and pre-Lenten) "freewill" of Am. 

14. her oume will beguyld: Corresponding to Tasso's "cangiato voler" (= changed 
will); see line 7 note. 

beguyld: charmed, or diverted (from a course of action). 

Holy Saturday 30 March: Epistle: 1 Pet. 'iAl-ll. Gospel: Matt. 27.57-66. Morning Prayer: Pss. 

139-41, John 17. Evening Prayer: Pss. 142-43, Heb. 1. 

Sonnet 68 

The sonnet's opening liturgical reference to Easter Sunday, 31 March 1634, and its 
celebration of Christ's triumph ouer death and sin (2), introduces a poem, shaped after 
the manner of a formal prayer with invocation, relative clauses, and petition. The 
sonnet's tone is joyous and forthrightly personal as it anticipates the forthcoming 
marriage. It is addressed both to God and to the poet's betrothed who are allied in 
the poem's parallel epithets, deare Lord (5) and deare loue (13). For the moment the 
covert is laid aside, while the explicit mutuality of the common pronoun vs and the 
verb entertayne is precise. 

1-14. The structure reflects the Cranmerian style of the BCP's Collects (and the 
Latinate structure of the original Collects of the pre-reformed rites), its opening 
bearing some resemblance to the Collect for Easter Sunday, "Almightie God, 
which through thy onely begotten Sonne lesus Christ hast ouercome death, and 

opened vnto vs the gate of euerlasting life " Cranmer omits the pre-reformed 

Latin's hodiema die, which Spenser's on this day acknowledges, "Deus, qui 
hodiema die per Unigenitum tuum aetemitatis nobis aditum devicta morte reserasti. . ." 
Ponsonby's claim {Complaints, To the Gentle Reader) that Spenser had once 
translated "The hewers of the Lord," which contain at least seven such prayers, 
suggests some familiarity with the formulaic conventions of a Collect. (Kaske, 

Commentary 201 

" 'Amoretti' 68," 518-19 traces the discovery of the prayer structure back to 
James A. Noble in 1880.) 

1. Lord of lyfe: A seasonably appropriate address deriving from Acts 3.15, "And 

killed the Lord of life, whome God hathe raised from the dead"; see FQ 

2. triumph ouer death and sin: Reflecting the Geneva version sidenote (see Prescott, 

"Deer," 43) to Eph. 4.8, "led captiuitie captiue" (see lines 3-4), "to triumph 
ouer . . . death and sinne," as well as the liturgical topos of the feast's specially 
chosen second lesson at morning prayer, Rom. 6.9-11, which contrasts sin and 
death with life (verses that were also read as one of two special anthems that 
were substituted on Easter Sunday for morning prayer's opening Ps. 95): "Know- 
ing that Christ being raised from the dead, dyeth no more: death hath no more 

dominion ouer him (Bishops' Bible, "no power vpon him") Likewise thinke 

ye also, that ye are dead to sinne, but are aliue to God in lesus Christ our 
Lord." Paul later acclaims the freedom from captivity that the resurrection buys, 
"But now being freed from sinne ... ye haue your frute in holines, and the end, 
euerlasting life. For the wages of sinne is death; but the gifte of God is eternal 
life" (v. 22-23). The second anthem at morning prayer was drawn from 1 Cor. 
15.20, "Christ is risen againe, the first fruites of them that sleepe." (Compare 
the Geneva version's sidenote to the chapter, "O death, where is thy victorie!") 

3. harrowd hell: robbed hell; after his death Christ descended into hell to release 

those held captive by Satan. The image is rooted in 1 Pet. 3.19, read during the 

Epistle for Easter Evening, "By the which he also went, and preached vnto the 

spirits that were in prison." 
3-4. didst bring away I captiuity thence captiue vs to win: Imitating Eph. 4.8 (& Ps. 

68.18), "he led captiuitie captiue." 
5. This ioyous day, deare Lord, with ioy begin: Compare the acclamation in the day's 

special Psalm at evening prayer, Ps. 118.24, "This is the day which the Lord 

hath made: we will reioyce and be glad in it." Tlie verse is echoed in Epith. 

115-16, "Fit for so ioyfuU day, / The ioyfulst day that euer sunne did see." 
7. with they deare blood clene washt from sin: Compare Rev. 1.5, "him that loued vs, 

and washed vs from our sinnes in his blood," and 1 John 1.7, "the blood of 

lesus Christ his Sonne clenseth vs from all sinne." 
deare: 1. beloved; 2. costly, precious. 

9. weiring worthily: valuing highly; it introduces the sestet's mercantile trope. 

10. likewise loue thee: See Rom. 6.1 1, "Likewise thinke ye." 

11. that all lyke deare didst buy: who bought all those who are dear to you — an 
explicit echo of 1 Cor. 6.20, "For ye are boght for a price (Bishops' version, 
"For ye are dearely bought"). 

buy: a seasonal commonplace, deriving from Christ's accomplishing 
redemption at Easter (red = back + emere = buy). Ps. Ill was read on Easter 
Sunday for its phrase, "He sent redemption vnto his people" (v. 9). 

12. with loue may one another entertayne: A prayerful resolution to the earlier instruc- 
tion of Am. 4.14, "prepare your selfe new loue to entertaine" (see note). 

entertayne: 1. engage, but 2. hold mutually between ourselves, {inter = 
between + tenere = hold). The line's syntax is ambiguous: either 1. that Christ 
and those who are dear to him may embrace each other; or 2. that those who 
are dear to Christ may embrace each other; or 3. both meanings, thus under- 
scoring the covenantal nature of love. 

202 Commentary 

12-14. In obedience to the exhortation in 1 John 4.7 &. 11, "Beloued, let vs loue 

one another: for loue cometh of God Beloued, if God so loued vs, we oght 

also to loue one another." 
13. So let vs: TTie second of three occasions in the sequence when the personal 

pronoun occurs — see Am. 62.5 note. 

ought: 1. are obliged, because love is Christ's lesson; 2. secondarily, owed, 

echoing the Easter theme of redemption (see line 1 1 note); ought opens and 

shuts the Lenten section of Amoretti (see Am. 22.2). 
Easter Sunday 31 March: Epistle: Col. 3.1-8. Gospel: John 20.1-11. Morning Prayer: Pss. 2, 57, 
111, Rom. 6. Evening Praiier: Pss. 113, 114, 118, Acts 2. 

Sonnet 69 

TTie second occasion when a sonnet's principal theme is one of poetic immortality, 
see Am. 27.9-12, 75.4-12 (for Low Sunday), & 82 (for the feast of the Ascension). 
The theme fits exactly the liturgical topos associated with Easter Monday, 1 April, 
the sepulchre (Vulgate, monumentum, koine, |J,vr||i8iov = memorial or record) or 
monument from which Christ arises. Mention of the monument occurs in both the 
day's Gospel, Luke 24.24, "certeine of them . . . went to the sepulchre" (Vulgate, 
monumentum) and the special second lesson at morning prayer. Matt. 28.8, "they 
departed quickely from the sepulchre" (Vulgate, monumento). 

2. Trophees: Among the Greeks, either 1. a monument comprising a tree (^uXov), 

from which spoils of victory were hung, which corresponds with the tree of 
Christ's victory acknowledged by Peter in the day's Epistle, Acts 10.39, "hang- 
ing him on a tre" (koine, ^uA-Ou); or 2. a structure erected to commemorate a 
victory and adorned with spoils. Since trophy derives from xptno = to turn, 
from which trope also derives, Spenser, etymologically, is anticipating line 9's 
verse (from vertere = to turn). 
Vsed: were accustomed to. 

3. records: accounts preserved for memory, monuments. 

enrold: 1. inscribed in a roll or register; 2. recorded. 

4. emprize: a pun: 1. an enterprise of chivalric nature; but 2. an inscription (Italian, 

impresa = a stamped motto) on a monument. 

5. trophee: In Col 951, the poet's death, recorded in verse, is a "simple trophe" of 

Rosalind's conquest. 

most fit: qualifies either trophee or deuize. 

7. of my loues conquest: 1. primarily the conquest of my love, that is, my betrothed; 

but 2. secondarily the conquest of my, the poet's, love, or even 3. the conquest 
by my love, my betrothed, or the conquest by my, the poet's, love. 

8. honour, hue, and chastity: See Epith. 191-92, "There dwels sweet loue and con- 

stant chastity, / Vnspotted fayth and comely womanhood." Both passages echo 
the BCP, marriage service, "loue her, comfort her, honour and keepe her." 

9. Poetic immortality was prominent from classical times onwards; see Horace, Odes, 

3.30.1-9, beginning, "Exegi monumentum aere perennius" (I have built a 
monument more lasting than bronze), and Ovid's conclusion to Met. 15.871 & 
878-79, "opus exegi . . . perque omnia saecula fama . . . vivam," which intro- 
duces a passage echoed in Am. 27. (See Whitney 131, Scripta manent.) Compare 
the intimations of immortality, Matt. 28.20, "1 am with you always, vntil the 
end of the worlde (Vulgate, ad consummationem saeculi). Amen." 

10. monirrxent: {monere = to record, remember — see memory [6]); either 1. an erec- 

Commentary 203 

tion intended to commemorate a person; 2. a written document or record — see 
Vieu> 92.1385. The poet is following the instruction given to Moses in the day's 
specially chosen first lesson at evening prayer, Exod. 17.14, "And the Lord said 
to Moses, Write this for a remembrance in the boke (Vulgate, scribe hoc ob 
monumentum in Ubro), and rehearse it to loshua." See Shakespeare Sonnet 81.9- 
11, with its indebtedness to the same passage, "Your monument shall be my 
gentle verse, / Which eyes not yet created shall ore-read, / And toungs to be, 
your beeing shall rehearse." 

12. rare: 1. uncommon; 2. splendid. 

13-14. Proverbial, see Smith, Proverb Lore, 655. 

13. happy purchase: 1. the seizing (after the chase) of spoil or prey; 2. the buying — 
which recalls the preceding sonnet. Am. 68.1 1, "all lyke deare didst buy." See 
Am. 27.11-12. 

spoils: recalling the tree (trophy) on which spoils were hung. 

14. gotten: 1. obtained; 2. won in victory, captured as spoils {OED v 4-5); 3. memo- 
rized {OED v 8). 

toyle: 1. labor; 2. battle, thus concluding the sonnet's associations with war 
(see Am. 11.6 note). 
Easter Monday 1 April: Epistle: Acts 10.34-44. Gospel: Luke 24.13-36. Morning Prayer: Pss. 1-5, 
Matt. 28. Evening: Prayer: Pss 6-8, Acts 3. 

Sonnet 70 

The second sonnet in the sequence to celebrate the coming of spring, the other 
being Sonnet 19. Here the sonnet's occasion topos corresponds to the readings for 
the feast of the Annunciation, which, because the feast's normal date, 25 March, 
fell in the week before Easter in 1594, was transferred in that year to the first open 
day after Easter, the Tuesday of Easter Week, 2 April. 

1. herald; messenger, envoy - see Am. 19.1, "messenger of Spring." The epithet 

matches the Gospel for the feast of the Annunciation, Luke 1.26, "the Angel 
(koine, dyyEA-Oc; = herald, envoy) Gabriel." 

2. cote armour: 1. in heraldry, a vest of rich material embroidered with devices and 

worn by heralds; 2. the flowers announcing love's king. 

5. Goe to my loue: in imitation of Solomon's instruction which opens the special 

first lesson at morning prayer for the Annunciation, Eccles. 2, "Go to now, I 
wil proue thee with ioye: therefore take thou pleasure in pleasant things." The 
poem's celebration of the spring flowers corresponds to Solomon's, "I haue 
planted me vineyards. I haue made me gardens and orchardes (with its Geneva 
version sidenote, "paradises"), and planted in them trees of all fhite" (Eccles. 

careless: without cares. 

5-8. Barroway 42 sees in the quatrain reminiscences of Ecclesiastes' garden's parallel 

in the Song of Sol. 2.7 & 10-12, "nor waken my loue, vntil she please. . . . My 

welbeloued spake and said vnto me, Arise, my loue, my faire one, and come thy 

way. For beholde, winter is past: the raine is changed, and is gone away. The 

flowers appeare in the earth " The Geneva Bible closely identified the virgin 

of the Annunciation and the beloved of the Song of Solomon, the virgin being 
addressed by the angel, "Haile thou that art freely beloued" (v. 28). 

6. awake: Corresponding to Paul's summoning in the second lesson at morning 

prayer for 2 April, 1 Cor. 15.3, "Awake to Hue righteously." By coincidence 1 

204 Commentary 

Cor. 15.3 is a gloss to Eccles. 2 (see Geneva Bible sidenote to the verse) and 
Paul makes frequent reference to those who are asleep, "the first frutes of them 
that slept" (v. 20; see vv. 6, 18 & 51). 
8. by the forelock take: 'To take time by the forelock,' was proverbial (see Smith, 
Proverb Lore, 111), although this is its only explicit usage by Spenser; its hcus 
classicus was Phaedrus, Fabulae, 5.8, "Calvus, comosa fronte, nudo occipio. . . . 
Occasionem rerum significat brevem." 

The sonnet's theme oi carpe diem matches directly the feast's first lesson at 
evening prayer, Eccles. 3.1-8 passim, "To all things there is an appointed time," 
with its apposite phrases, "A time to plant," "A time to speake," "A time to 
loue" and "He ha the made euerie thing beautiful in his time." 

10. louely: 1. loving; 2. beautiful. 

11. make: mate; a rime equivoque with line 9. 

12. amearst: punished; the only use of the word by Spenser. 

dew: see 1 Cor. 15.8, "due time." 

13. whilest it is prime: Compare the associated carpe florem of the Bower of Bliss, FQ 

Gather therefore the Rose, whilest yet is prime, 
For soone comes age, that will her pride deflowre: 
Gather the Rose of loue, whilest yet is time, 
Whilest louing thou mayst loued be with equall crime. 
The conceit was a traditional one, although in Spenser's case directly 
connected to Tasso, Gerusalemme Liberata, 16.15.5-8, "Colgiam la rosa in su'l 
mattino adomo / Di questo di, che tosto il seren perde: / Colgiam d'Amor la 
rosa: amiamo hor, quando / Esser si puote riamato amando," which Fairfax (with 
Eccles. 3.2 & 8 in mind, "a time to plucke vp that, which is planted," "a time 
to embrace," and "a time to loue") translates: "Gather the rose of loue, while 
yet thou mast / Louing, be lou'd; embrasing, be embrast." The preceding line to 
the passage from Tasso gives the passage a temporal context by explicitly 
acknowledging the passing nature of April and its non-return, "Ne perche faccia 
indietro April ritomo," which Spenser has evidently recalled when composing 
Am. 70 for 2 April. 

prime: 1. spring; 2. the moment of greatest perfection. 

14. none can call againe the passed time: Compare Solomon's axiom in Eccles. 3.15, 
"What is that that hathe bene? that is now: and that that shalbe, hathe now 
bene: for God requireth that which is past," with its sidenote, "God onelie 
causeth that, which is past, to retume." 

Annunciation: Epislle: Isa. 7.10-15. Gospel: Luke 1.26-38. I Morning Prayer: Eccl. 2. I Evening 
Prayer: Eccl. 3. Tuesday 2 April, Easter Tuesday: Epistle: Acts 13.26-42. Gospel: Luke 24.36-49. 
Morning Prayer: Pss. 9-11, Luke 24.1-12. Evening Prayer: Pss. 12-14, 1 Cor. 15. 

Sonnet 71 

Dundas 13 has pointed out that the sonnet's apparent conceit, the drawn-work, 
seemingly encloses a further code, the B of Bee being a cypher for Boyle and the S 
or Sp of Spyder, a cypher for Spenser, the "spinner and therefore maker of allu- 
sions." In the bands of the drawn-work's network the embroidered bee is held fast. 
The net's locus classicus was Ovid, Met. 4.170ff., where Venus and her lover are 
imprisoned by a net/snare ("retiaque et laqueos") like to a spider's web. The 
incident, in Golding's translation (4.205-6), associates drawn-work with the spider's 

Commentary 205 

web: "This piece of worke was much more fine than any handwarpe oofe / Or that 
whereby the Spider hanges in sUding firom the roofe." 

1 . drawen work: drawn-thread work, ornamental work done on a woven fabric by 

drawing out threads from the warp and woof (oof) to form a patterned network. 
Needlework can then be added. Although the sonnet apparently works an 
occasional conceit, the second lesson at morning prayer for Wednesday 3 April, 
John 21.18, reinforces its intimacy by associating bands and cords with the 
difference between the young and the old, "When thou wast yong, thou 
girdedst thy self . . . but when thou shalt be olde . . . another shal girde thee," 
to which the Geneva version attaches the sidenote, "In steed of a girdle, that 
shalt be tyed with bands and cordes: and where as now thou goest at libertie, 
then thou shalt be drawen to punishment." (Compare also the earlier trope in 
John 21.6, where the disciples, "Cast out the net [Vulgate, rete — see headnote, 
Ovid, "retia") on the right side of the ship ... So they cast out, and they were 
not able at all to drawe it. . . .") 

2. Bee: rarely used elsewhere by Spenser, which reinforces its use here as a secret 

token. The Spider and the Bee were frequently treated emblematically, e.g., 
Whitney 51, who presents them under the inscription, "Vitae, aut mori." 

3. Spyder: elsewhere an emblem of touch {FQ 11. xi. 13.3). 

3-4. doth lurke I in close awayt: In direct imitation of morning prayer Ps. 17.11-12, 
"They lie waiting in our way on euery side . . . lurking in secret places." 

5. Right so: a common colloquialism, e.g., Am. 53.5. 

snare: a concern also of evening prayer Ps. 18.4, "the snares" (Vulgate, 
laquei — identical, then, to Ovid's phrase, "retiaque et laqueos"). 

6. thralled: held in bondage, made captive. 

7. strei^t bands: 1. strait, tightly drawn together bands; but 2. (from strictus = drawn 

out — of a sword) streit, drawn out, hence imprisoned in the interstices left by 
the drawn threads. 

8. remoue: move from, escape. 

10. xvoodbynd: (wood + bind = band) woodbine is a climbing plant like ivy and thus 

suitable for the sides and top of embroidery. It was known as "ladies bower" 

(Gerard, Herbal, Table of Names). 

fragrant Eglantine: see Am. 26.3. Eglantine (from acus = needle, aculeus = 

prickle) is an appropriate flower for needlework. It is "pleasant to smel to" 

(Turner, Herbal, 2.; see FQ ll.v.29.4. 
14. gentle: of an animal 1) well-bred; 2. easily managed. 

Wednesday 3 April: Morning Prayer: Pss. 15-17, John 21. Evening Prayer: Ps. 18, Heb. 5. 

Sonnet 72 

Sonnet 72 is a loose translation of Tasso's "L'alma vaga di luce e di bellezza" (Rime, 
2.98. 67). Spenser's decision to translate it for Thursday 4 April fits neatly with the 
account of Christ's ascension into heaven contained in Acts 1 , the day's second 
lesson at morning prayer. Both Spenser's sonnet and Tasso's original reflect a 
twofold movement, to heaven and back to earth: 

L'alma vaga di luce e di bellezza, 

Ardite spiega al Ciel I'ale amorose; 

Ma si le fa I'umanita gravose, 

Che le dechina a quel, ch'in terra apprezza. 

206 Commentary 

E de' piaceri alia do Ice esca avvezza, 

Ove in sereno volto Amor la pose 

Tra bianche perle e mattutine rose, 

Par che non trovi altra maggior dolcezza. 

E fa quasi augellin, ch' in alto s' erga, 

E poi discenda alfin ov' altri il cibi; 

E quasi volontario s'imprigioni. 

E fra tanti del Ciel graditi doni, 

Si gran diletto par che in voi delibi, 

Ch' in voi solo si pasce, e solo alberga. 
1-8. The ascension account in Acts 1 opens "while they behelde, he was taken vp: 
for a cloude toke him vp out of their sight" (v. 9). The disciples, having "loked 
stedfastly towarde heaven," are then instructed to direct their gaze earthwards, 
"And while thei loked stedfastly towarde heauen, as he went, beholde, two men 
stode by them in white apparel. Which also said. Ye men of Galile, why stand 
ye gasing into heauen? This lesus which is taken vp from you into heauen, shal 
so come, as ye haue sene him go into heauen" (vv. 10-11). 

1. spred her bolder winges: Spenser makes comparative the 'Ardite' of Tasso's "Ardite 

spiega . . . I'ale." The emblem of the soul taking wings to itself was a Petrarchist 
favorite, e.g., Petrarch, Rime, 362, "Volo con 1' ali de' pensieri al cielo." 
Whitney 152 has a device with verses like Spenser's — see line 11, "with heauie 
clogge of care" — while Prescott, Spenser's Poetry, 616 cites Alciati 121, an 
emblem of a winged figure with a clog (a weighted chain). See Casady 101-2. 

2. in mind to mount up to the purest sky: See HHB 134-40, for a similar Neo-Platonic 

ascent; the passage there does not reverse its progress towards the earth. 
in mind to: see Tasso's "vaga" = desirous, intending. 

4. clogd with burden of mortality: see Tasso, "si le fa I'umanita gravose." 

5. iuhere: on earth. Spenser differs from his Petrarchist peers in asserting that he 

finds contentment on earth, for his spirit, having gazed upon the lady's beauty 
here, forgets its earlier striving towards heaven. 

6. resembling heauens glory: ODmpare morning prayer Ps. 19.1, "TTie heauens declare 

the glorie of God." 

7. sweet pleasurs bayt: See Tasso, "E de' piaceri alia dolce esca avvezza." 

10. mantleth: a hawking term, suggested by Tasso's metaphor, "quasi augellin, ch' in 
alto s' erga, / E poi discenda"; the exercise of stretching out alternate wings over 
the corresponding leg. 

9-12. 1) the poet's fancy finds fulfillment on earth, no longer requires the other 
heauen, but seeks only to please his heart's desire; this reading requires that her 
refer either to fancy or to spirit; 2. if her refers to souerayne beauty, then the heart 
that the fancy seeks to please is the lady's. The pun on Hart reir\forces the 
second reading: the fancy seeks to please the desire of her hart and the sestet's 
references to bath, full delight,and Hart all echo the marriage imagery proper to 
Prov. 5.18-19, "Let thy fountaine be blessed, and reioyce with the wife of thy 
youth. Let her be as the louing hinde and pleasant roe: let her breasts satisfie 
thee at all times, and delite in her loue continually." 

13. Hart: 1. if heart, the advice is self-advice; 2. if hart, the reference is to the 
poet's betrothed and the advice is equally directed at her; 3. if both, the advice 
is mutual advice. 

13-14. A couplet contrary to anything found in Tasso and a markedly Spenserian 

Commentary 207 

affirmation. Because the lady's presence remains bound to earth, hers is not the 
traditional Petrarchist angelification which Spenser's peers often embraced. 

Thursday 4 April: Morning Prayer: Pss. 19-21, Acts 1. Evening Prayer: Pss. 22-23, Heb. 6. 

Sonnet 73 

Sonnet 73 is the second successive — and more faithful — translation of a Tasso 
sonnet, "Donna, poiche fortuna empia mi nega" (Rime, 2.319.222), although 
Spenser avoids using Tasso's opening two lines. Tasso's sonnets are linked by the 
common phrases, "E fa quasi augellin, (che I'ali spiega)" which seeks a "dolce 
esca." Sonnet 73 continues the bird simile implicit in Am. 72, retaining a common 
vocabulary, spy (5/5), hart (13/7), back doth fly I flyes backe (7/8), while Tasso's "dolce 
esca" becomes in Sonnet 73, desired food. Spenser also adopts the conclusion to the 
prior Tasso original as the concluding couplet to Sonnet 73. 

Donna, poiche fortuna empia mi nega 

Seguirvi, e cinge al pie dure catene; 

Almen per le vostre orme il cor ne viene, 

Cui laccio, oltre i bei crini, altro non lega. 

E fa quasi augellin, che I'ali spiega 

Dietro ad uom, che dolce esca in man ritiene, 

Che di cibarsi ne' vostri occhi ha spene, 

E questa e la cagion ch'ognor vi sega. 

Prendetel voi, e dentro al vostro seno 

Rijxsnetel benigna, e quivi poi 

Felice prigionero i giomi spenda. 

Forse avvera, che i dolci affanni suoi 

Canti, e'l bel vostro nome, e'l suono intenda, 

Quanto cingon d'intomo Adria, e Tirreno. 
TTie sonnet corresponds to none of the readings proper to Friday 5 April. 

1. Being: disyllabic. 

captyued: trisyllabic. 

care: sorrow, suffering. In FQ lV.viii.5.5, a gentle bird comforts the 
suffering knight. 

2. none: none other. 

seruile: like a slave. 

3. but the fayre tresses of your golden hayre: See Tasso, "oltre i bei crini." See Am. 

5-12. Spenser's translation is here closest to Tasso's original. 
8. to feed his fill: Proverbial (Smith, Proverb Lore, 256). See Am. 65.7-8. 
10. gently encage: a rendering of Tasso's less specific "Riponete." 
14. lodging in your bosome to haue lent: Compare the conclusion to Tasso's "L'alma 

vaga di luce e di bellezza," Am. 72 headnote, "Ch' in voi solo si pasce, e solo 


Friday 5 April: Morning Prayer: Pss. 24-26, Acts 2. Evening Prayer: Pss. 27-29, Heb. 7. 

Sonnet 74 

1-14. In celebrating the three Elizabeths in whom the poet is blessed, his mother, 
his queen and his betrothed, the sonnet imitates closely the second lesson at 
morning prayer for Saturday 6 April, Acts 3, in which Peter blesses the three- 

208 Commentary 

fold God of glory who has upheld Christ, "The GOD of Abraham, and Isaac, 
and lacob, the GOD of our fathers hathe glorified his Sonne lesus" (v. 13). 

1. happy: a synonym for blessed — see Am. 1.11-12 note. 

fram'd: 1. fashioned, shaped; 2. more particularly fram'd was used of the 
fetus in the womb (see Am. 8.9 note), taken up in from mothers womb (6); 3. 
specifically, letters shaped into words {OED 8a). 

trade: practice. 

2. that happy name: See Acts 3.16, where the threefold God is upheld through the 

name of Christ, "And his Name hathe made this man sounde, whom ye se, and 
knowe, through faith in his Name." 
desynd: indicated. 

3. three times thrise happy: See FQ IV.ii.41.5-6, where Agape's giving birth is 

similarly acclaimed, "TTirise happie mother, and thrise happie mome, / TTiat 
bore three such, three such not to be fond." (The Most happy letters, being three 
times thrise, equal nine letters, the number in the name Elizabeth.) 

5. kind: nature — a rime equivoque with line 7 where it carries the meaning, most 

benevolent; see Am. 70.9-11. This first happiness echoes the blessing an- 
nounced in Acts 3.25, "in thy sede shal all the kinreds of the earth be blessed." 

6. from mothers womb: An exact correspondence with the cause of Peter's blessing 

in Acts 3.2, the healing of the man crippled "from his mothers wombe." 

deriu'd: obtained (an origin or lineage). 

by dew descent: 1. by generation or by proper lineage; but 2. etymologically, 
words were considered to 'descend' from their root {OED v 8c). 
8. richesse: wealth. In the Folio editions, "riches." 

10. my spirit out of dust was raysed: See morning prayer Ps. 30.10, "Shall the dust 
giue thankes vnto thee." TTie phrase, and its associated Ps. 113.7 (Geneva 
version), "He raiseth the nedie out of the dust," was commonplace, see SC 
Oct., 39 and View 168.3552. 

1 1 . to speake her prayse: Likewise evening prayer Ps. 34.1 sings, "his praise shall euer 
be in my mouth." 

14. three such graces: On one level the three gifts of nature, grace and glory. The 
three graces are the handmaids of Venus, their dance being described in FQ 
■ V1.X.15, where they "to men all gifts of grace do graunt." TTiey are AyA,afa (= 
orrmment [9]), 0dXia (= richness {richesse [8]) and Ei!)<t)poauvr| (= merriment). 
To the three Spenser adds a fourth, Elizabeth 1. He may also have had in mind 
the "three sundry Actions in liberalitye" of SC April, 109 Gloss. 

Saturday 6 April: Morning Prayer: Pss. 30-31, Acts 3. Evening Prayer: Pss. 32-34, Heb. 8. 

Sonnet 75 

TTie sonnet's opening combines a possible occasion of writing in the sand only to be 
washed away with further references to water, washing, naming and eternal life 
which fit well with the liturgical topoi of the First Sunday after Easter, Sunday 7 
April, known as Low Sunday or Dominica in albis fdepositis], which acknowledges the 
neophytes who, having been washed in the waters of Baptism and received their 
names, are required no longer to wear their white vestments. 

As Ovid brings the Metarrwrphoses to a conclusion with the conceit of poetic 
immortality, so Am. 75 seemingly was intended temporarily to bring the sequence 
to a close. 

Commentary 209 

1. wrote her name: See the day's Epistle, 1 John 5.13, "These things haue I written 

vnto you, that beleue in the Name of the Sonne of God," and its second lesson 
at morning prayer. Acts 4, with its repeated reference to name, as the apostles, 
"preached in lesus Name the resurrection from the dead" (v. 2; see vv. 7, 10, 
12, 17. 18, 30). 

strand: strictly, the stretch of shore that lies between the tide-mark. 

2. washed: See the references to water in 1 John 5.6 & 8, including the sidenote to 

verse 6, "TTie water . . . declare that we haue our sinnes washed by him"; see 

also the second lesson at evening prayer, Heb. 9.23. 
5. Vayne man ... in vaine assay: reflecting the imaginings of Acts 4.25, "Why 

did . . . the people imagine vaine things?" 
10-11. hue by fame: I . . . eternize: The court of Elizabeth I is full of "knights of 

noble name, / That couet in th'immortall booke of fame / To be eternized" {PQ 


fame: see Ovid, Met. 15.878, "perque omnia saecula fama" (Golding, 

15.994-96, "and time without all end / ... My life shall euerlastingly bee 

lengthened still by fame"). On the conceit of poetic immortality, see Am. 27, 

69.9-14 & 82.5-8. 

10. dy in dust: Compare morning prayer Ps. 35.5, "Let them be as the dust before 
the wynde." 

11. my verse your vertues rare shall eternize I and in the heuens wryte your glorious name: 
Matching the purpose of John's writing, 1 John 5.13, "These things haue I 
written vnto you, that beleue in the Name of the Sonne of God, that ye may 
knowe that ye haue eternal life." Likewise Acts 4.12, "for among men there is 
giuen none other name vnder heauen." See Ovid, Met. 15.876, "nomenque erit 
indelibile nomen" (Golding, 15.990-91, "And all the world shall neuer / Be 
able for too quench my name"). 

vertues . . . name: similarly linked in Acts 4.7, "By what power (Vulgate, 
virtute), or in what Name haue ye done this?" 
rare: 1. uncommon; 2. excellent. 

13. shall all the world subdew: An exact rendering of Ovid, Met. 15.877, "domitis 
terris" (= the subdued world), and in contrast to 1 John 5.4 (and passim), "all 
that is borne of God, ouercometh the worlde." 

14. later life renew: probably the "heauenlie" life which the betrothed will finally 

Sunday 7 April, First Sunday after Easter: Epistle: 1 John 5.4-13. Gospel: John 20.19-24. 
Morning Prayer: Pss. 35-36, Acts 4. Evening Prayer: Ps. 37, Heb. 9. 

Sonnet 76 

Sonnets 76 and 77 variously draw upon and adapt Tasso's sonnet, "Non son si belli 
i fiori onde natura" {Rime, 3.133.94). Spenser has chosen to reflect a range of 
epithets provided by Tasso's sonnet to mark the occasion of the conception and 
indwelling of Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, recounted in Matt. 1 , the 
first chapter of the new round of New Testament second lessons at morning prayer 
that began on 3 May. (Its temporal reference to early fruit in May, a departure from 
Tasso's "april," also fits neatly with a sonnet composed in early May.) Sonnet 76 
draws especially on Tasso's second quatrain for its opening litany of praise, while 
Sonnet 77 expands and elaborates his sestet. (For an extended contrast, see Scott, 
"Sources," 192 and Lever 110.) 

210 Commentary 

Non son si belli i fiori onde natura 

Nel dolce april de' vaghi anni sereno 

Sparge un bel volto, come in real seno 

E bel quel ch'a I'autunno Amor matura. 

Maraviglioso grembo, orto e cultura 

D'Amore e paradiso mio terreno! 

11 mio audace pensier chi tiene a freno 

Se quello onde si nutre a te sol fura? 

Quel che i passi fugaci d'Atalanta 

Volser dal corso, o che guardo il dragone, 

Son vili al mio desir ch' in te si pasce: 

Ne coglie Amor da peregrina pianta 

Pomo ch'in pregio di belta ti done 

Che nel tuo sen sol di te degno ei nasce. 
Sonnets 76 and 77 are two of the most physical of the amoretti, although their 
easy flow and confident elegance contrast with the tense control of Tasso. 
1. Fayre bosome: Tasso's "Maraviglioso grembo"; the chest cavity as well as the 
enclosure formed by the chest and arms in an embrace; "grembo," in contrast 
to "seno," was used more specifically as bosom, lap, or even womb. See morn- 
ing prayer Ps. 17.14, "whose bellies (Vulgate, venter = womb) thou fillest with 
thy hid treasure." Because Spenser drops Tasso's temporal opening which 
embellishes the contrast between nature and love, he can recast his eulogy in a 
mode which hints at the unfallen quality of the paradice of pleasure (3). 

The association between paradise, the garden in the Song of Solomon and 
the Annunciation was customary, the angel identifying the Virgin in the 
Geneva version as the beloved: "Haile thou that are freely beloued . . . blessed 
art thou among women," to which Elizabeth adds, "because the frute of thy 
wombe (Vulgate, ventris) is blessed" (Luke 1.28 & 42). The phrases echo the 
description of the beloved in the Song of Solomon, "He shal lye betwene my 
brests" (1.12), and "vnder his shadow had I delight . . . and his firuit was sweet 
vnto my mouth . . . comfort me with apples" (2.3-5; see its archetypical hlason, 

fraught: laden, as a vessel. 

3. the bowre ofblisse: See FQ ll.xii.42.ff. 

paradice of pleasure: Not unlike the "Elysian fields" of the Temple of 
Venus, FQ IV. x. 23. 2-3, described as "a second paradise to ghesse, / So lauishly 
enricht with natures threasure"; bosome was associated with paradise through 
Luke 16.22, "Abrahams bosome," which the Geneva Bible glosses as paradise. 

4. the sacred harbour of that heuenly spright: the only epithet in the opening quatrain 

that finds no correspondence in Tasso, but one that could equally be applied to 
the Blessed Virgin. 

harbour: 1. lodging, dwelling-place; 2. since harbour was a frequent six- 
teenth century spelling of arbor, bowre. 

5. louely: 1. beautiful; 2. loving. 

7. diuing: plunging — the only time Spenser uses the word. 

insight: internal sight, in contrast to the external louely sight (5). 
9, And tmxt her paps like early fruit in May: Because Spenser has dropped Tasso's 

temporal contrast between April and autumn, he is free to change April to May. 

Compare Belphoebe, FQ II.iii.29.7-9, whose "daintie paps . . . like young fruit 

Commentary 211 

in May / Now little gan to swell," a phrase which Upton, quoting Ariosto's 
description of Alcina {Orl. Fur. VII. 14.3), "due pome acerbe," identifies as two 
unripe apples or young fruit in May. 

paps: 1. Tasso's "seno" which intends more particularly 'mamillae'; 2. 
secondarily, hills {OED 2b) — thus where the poet's thoughts will find happy rest 
(1"3); see morning prayer Ps. 15.1, "who shall rest vpon thy holy hill?" 

early fruit in May: by hypallage, "fruit in early May." 
11. wanton ivinges: Not found in Tasso, but corresponding to the feature of morning 
prayer Ps. 17.8, "Keepe me as the apple of an eye: hyde me vnder the shadowe 
of thy wings." 

loosely . . . iuanton: TTie poet's thoughts are identified with the winged 
Cupid's wantonness. 

Friday 3 May: Morning Prayer: Pss. 15-17, Matt. 1. Evening Prayer: Ps. 18, Rom. 2. 

Sonnet 77 

Sonnet 77 completes the indebtedness to Tasso's "Non son si belli i fiori onde 

natura" (see headnote. Am. 76), Spenser here concentrating on its sestet. 

1. dreame: the dream motif changes Tasso's classical spirit and gives it a surreal 

quality. The modulation accords with the dream topos of Matt. 2, the second 
lesson at morning prayer for Saturday 4 May, which contains four accounts of 
dreams. The "Wisemen from the East," who "opened their treasures" to Christ 
were "were warned of God in a dreame" (v. 12), and Joseph, on three occasions, 
was instructed by an angel, who "appeared in a dreame" (vv. 13, 19, 22). The 
dreamlike quality absolves Spenser's poem of the seasonal changes which were 
an integral part of Tasso's sonnet. 

2. table: see evening prayer Ps. 23.5, "TTiou shalt prepare a table before me." 

pure yuory: See Ovid's account of Atalanta, whose skin is described as 
being of ivory, "terga ebumea" (Met. 10.592; see lines 7-8 note, Atalanta). The 
emblematic tradition associating breasts with ivory derived from Song of Sol. 
5.14, "his bellie (Vulgate, venter) is as bright iuorie." Compare Belphoebe's 
forehead, FQ ll.iii.24. 1-2, "Her iuorie forhead . . . / Like a broad table did it 
selfe dispred"; the passage draws on Ariosto (who is also indebted to the Song 
of Solomon), Orl. Fur. Vll. 11-16, which compares Alcina's breasts to young 
apples made of pure ivory, "due pome acerbe, e pur d'avorio fatte" (14.3; see 
Lynche, Diella, 31.1, "Faire Iuorie browe, the bord Loue banquets on"). 

3. iuncats: dainty sweetmeats. Spenser uses the term only once elsewhere, FQ 

V.iv.49.8-9, "And beare with you both wine and iuncates fit, / And bid him 
eate." The lines recall paradise through "bid him eat" which suggests Eve 
bidding Adam to eat the forbidden fruit (see Hamilton, Faerie Queene, 557). 

4. pompous: 1. full of pomp, magnificent; 2. ostentatious. 

6. golden: Corresponding to Hippomenes' "aurea poma" of Ovid, Met. 10.650, and 
echoing Matt. 2.11, where the Wise Men offered "euen golde." 

7-8. Tlie eleventh labor of Hercules was to obtain the apples which Juno received 
at her marriage and which she entrusted to the guardianship of the Hesperides 
on Mt. Atlas. Tlie Hesperides were assisted in their task by the dragon Ladon 
(see Tasso, il dragone), which Hercules slew. The emblematic comparison be- 
tween breasts and the Hesperides was frequent, e.g., Lynche, Diella, 22.9, "her 
breastes two aples of Hesperides." Atalanta was surpassed in running by Hippo- 

212 Commentary 

menes of Euboea who threw down the apples (in his case three), which Atalanta 

paused to pick up (See Ovid, Met. 10.560-680). Spenser connects the two myths 

in FQ II.vii.54.5-9. 
7. far passing: Recalls the manner in which Atalanta was surpassed by Hippomenes. 
9. Exceeding sweet: Despite Barroway's willingness (41-42) to see here a reference to 

Song of Sol. 4.11, compare morning prayer Ps. 19.10, "More to be desired are 

they then gold: yea then much fine golde: sweeter also then honie, and the 

hony combe." 

Exceeding: In imitation of Matt. 2.10 &. 16, "exceading great ioye," and 

"exceading wroth." 

yet voyd of sinfull vice: Spenser's apples, because brou^t from paradice, 

change the nature of love, which in Tasso is a temporal force, to a love of 

prelapsarian origin. 
13-14. Her brest that table: Echoing in part evening prayer Ps. 22.9, "But thou art 

hee that tooke me out of my mothers wombe: thou wast my hope when I 

hanged yet vpon my mothers breasts." 'Write them vpon the table of thine 

heart' was a stock metaphor (from Prov. 3.3) for 'keep in mind.' 
14. thoughts . . . fedd: Tasso's "mio desir ch' in te si pasce." Compare evening prayer 

Ps. 23.2. "He shall feede me (Vulgate, in loco pascuae)." 

Saturday 4 May: Morning Prayer: Pss. 19-21, Matt. 2. Evening Prayer: Pss. 22-23, Rom. 3. 

Sonnet 78 

TTie first sonnet of a number explicitly concerned with the lady's absence. Casti- 
glione. The Booke of the Courtier, 4 (Everyman, 316-17), explains how absence 
should be turned to the lover's advantage, "TTie lover therefore that considereth 
onely the beautie in the bodie, loseth this treasure and happinesse, as soone as the 
woman beloued with her departure leaueth the eies without their brightnesse. . . . 
The Courtier by the helpe of reason must full and wholy call backe againe the 
coueting of the bodie to beautie alone . . . and frame it within his imagination 
sundred from all matter." 

Tlie sonnet corresponds with Rogation Sunday, the Fifth Sunday after Easter, 5 
May, the first of a series of days of fast leading up to the feast of the Ascension. The 
days were marked by the ancient custom of 'beating the bounds' — a procession or 
perambulation which went from place to place through the fields establishing the 
bounds of the parish. Signs were left and decked with garlands (MacMichael, 1 14) 
and, in its Reformed rite, "in the . . . going about the minister shall use none other 
ceremony than to say in English the two psalms . . . the hundred and third psalm 
and the hundred and fourth psalm. . ." (Grindal, 141). The psalms were chosen 
particularly for the verse "Thou hast set them their boundes, which they shall not 
passe" (104.9). Details of the two psalms persist through the sonnets for both 
Rogation Sunday and Rogation Monday. 

1-14. The poem's argument of the poet going his way, having looked upon his 
beloved's natural face, corresponds to the metaphor in day's Epistle, James 1 .22- 
27, of the man, who, having looked upon his natural face in a mirror, goes his 
way: "he is like unto a man, that beholdeth his natural face in a glasse (koine, 
x6 7tp6oo)7iov Tf\c, yzvtazcac, aOtoO ^v tadnxpc^ = the face of his birth in a 
mirror). For when he hathe considered him self, he goeth his way, and forget- 
teth immediately what maner of one he was." (The poet, of course, continues 

Commentary 213 

to carry his lady's image freshly in his mind.) Am. 45 corresponds to a like 
metaphor and thence uses Plato's image in a mirror (The Republic, 402B; see 
Am. 45.1-14 note) to construct its Platonic argument. Sonnet 78, corresponding 
to a matching mirror image, constructs its argument along similar lines. 

1. I go from place to place: Reflecting the perambulation of 'Rogationing the Bound- 

aries.' See Petrarch, Rime, 35.1-4: 

Solo e pensoso i piii deserti campi 
vo mesurando a passi tardi e lenti, 
e gli occhi porto per fuggire intenti 
ove vestigio uman la rena stampi. 

2. hynd: The simile corresponds exactly to the unique psalter reference in the day's 

evening prayer Ps. 29.8, "The voyce of the Lorde maketh the Hindes to bring 
foorth yong, and discouereth the thicke bushes" (Geneva Version, "forests"; see 
its sidenote f, a parallel to Petrarch's "i piu deserti campi," "In places most 
desolate, where as semeth there is no presence of God.") 

3. seeke each where, where last I sawe her face: Imitates the repeated detail in evening 

prayer Ps. 27.9-10, "seeke yee my face: thy face Lord will I seeke. O hide not 
thou thy face from me," and morning prayer Ps. 24.6, "this is the generation of 
them that seeke him: euen of them that seeke thy face, O lacob." 
5-7. I seeke .../... nor . . . can fynd: Spenser's failure to find the lady's face runs 
counter to Christ's instruction in the day's Gospel, John 16.24, "aske, and ye 
shal receiue" (in all parallel accounts IMatt. 7.7, Luke 11.91, "Aske, and it 
shalbe giuen you: seke, and ye shal finde."). 

5. syr\d: echoing the signs of the day's perambulation; 1. bearing her imprint, 

footstep; 2. sealed as her own. 

6. deckt: corresponding to the action of decking the landmarks with flowers and the 

detail of perambulation Ps. 104.2, "Thou deckest thy selfe with light." 

11. trexv obiect: Platonically, the true reality, not the imperfect image, beheld in the 
mind and not in the sight. 

12. fancies: 1. used technically by neo-Platonists for the faculty which forms mental 
representations of things not present to the senses; 2. as a contraction of fantasy, 
a deceived or delusive imagination — in contrast to trew obiect (11; see Am. 45.4, 
Am. 3.12 note, and Am. 88 headnote, for a fuller discussion of Plato's use of 
(|)(ivTaa|ia = semblance). 

14. behold her selfe: In imitation of James 1.23, "beholdeth his natural face." See 
Am. 45.13. 

Rogation Sunday 5 May, Fifth Sunday after Easter: Epistle: James 1.22-27. Gospel: John 16.23- 
33. Morning Prayer: Pss. 24-26, Matt. 3. Evening Prayer: Pss. 27-29, Rom. 4. Perambulation 
Psalms 103-4. 

Sonnet 79 

Sonnet 79, written for Rogation Monday, 6 May, treats at greater length Sonnet 
59's aphorism "All flesh is frayle," its distinction between fleshly beauty and true 
beauty which is of heavenly seed making it of one of the most apparently Platonic 
arguments of the sequence. Its argument of fleshly frailty draws on perambulation 
Ps. 103.14-16, "For he knoweth whereof we be made: he remembreth that we are 
but dust. The dayes of man are but as grasse: for he florisheth as a flowre of the 
fielde. For as soone as the winde goeth over it, it is gone: and the place thereof shall 
knowe it no more." Like Sonnet 58 it also draws upon the associated passages 1 Pet. 

214 Commentary 

1.22-24 and Isa. 40.3-8 (see Am. 58.6 for further detail). The simile of the flesh as 

a flower that fades was a popular Spenserian one, frequently with Petrine and Isaian 

echoes (e.g., FQ V.ii.40.4-5 and VI.x.44.5-7). 

1-14. The sonnet's division between frayle corruption and true beautie reflects the 
contrast made in Rom. 5.17, the day's second lesson at evening prayer, where 
Paul distinguishes between the corruption introduced into the world by Adam 
and the grace and perfection bought by Christ: 'Tor if by the offence of one, 
death reigned through one, muche more shal they which receiue the abundance 
of grace . . . reigne in life through one, that is lesus Christ." 

I . credit: give credibiUty to or evidence of it; a unique Spenserian usage as a verb. 
4. much more praysed: hyperbolically exceeding the praises of God that open both 

perambulation psalms, Ps. 103.1 & 2, Ps. 104.1, 'Trayse the Lorde, O my 

6. glorious: imitating perambulation Ps. 104.1, "thou art become exceeding glori- 

8. frayle corruption: as above, reflecting perambulation Ps. 103.15 (with its headnote 
gloss in the Geneva Version, "The frailtie of mans life"), "The dayes of man are 
but as grasse"; grass is identified as corrupt flesh in Isa. 40.6-7, "All flesh is 

that doth flesh ensew: Imitating evening prayer Psalm 34.13, "seeke peace, 
and ensue it," the only occasion the word occurs in Coverdale which is not 
found in the Geneva version. 

10. diuine and borne of heauenly seed: See 1 Pet. 1.23, "Being borne a new, not of 
mortal sede, but of immortal, by the worde of God." 

I I . fayre Spirit: Compare the day's second lesson at morning prayer. Matt. 4.1 where 
"lesus [is] led aside of the Spirit into the wildemes"; see Isa. 40.7. 

12. proceed: Compare Matt. 4.4, "But by euerie word that procedeath (koine, 
^K7iop8UO|i^va)) out of the mouth of God." (6K7iop£U|ia was the proper 
theological term for the trinitarian procession of the Spirit.) 

14. All other fayre lykeflowres untymely fade: see headnote perambulation Ps. 103.14- 
16. See its associated passages, Isa. 40.6-7, "All flesh is grasse, and all the grace 
thereof is as the floure of the field. The grasse withereth, the floure fadeth, 
because the Spirit of the L«rd bloweth vpon it," and 1 Pet. 1.24, "For all flesh 
is as grasse, and all the glorie of man is as the flower of grasse. The grasse 
withereth, and the flower falleth away." 

Monday 6 May: Moming Prayer: Pss. 30-31, Matt. 4. Evening Prayer: Pss. 32-34, Rom. 5. 

Perambulation Psalms 103-4. 

Sonnet 80 

TTie sonnet's argument strongly suggests that the first six books of The Faerie Queene 
were completed by the spring of 1594, although they were not published until 1596, 
and that Spenser intended to continue the poem. The exhaustion the work caused 
him is the subject of frequent asides throughout the work (FQ l.xii.1.42, lI.x.1-2 & 
VI. Pr. 1-2), although the simile of the steed is unique to Amoretti. 

The sonnet shows little correspondence with any of the proper psalms or either 
of the second lessons for Rogation Tuesday 7 May. 
1 . race as I a haue run: Spenser's resolve will be the same as the Palmer's to Guyon, 

who "Must now anew begin, like race to runne" {FQ II. i. 32. 7). 

Commentary 215 

2. compile: which, heaped or piled together, make up its composition — suggesting 

the tedium of the work. Spenser is echoing Vergil, who was known as the 
compilator {compilare = to steal or plunder) by his reproachful rivals, because he 
imitated (or stole from) Homer. 

3. giue leaue to rest me: Calidore, seeking a place of retirement, makes a similar plea 

to Meliboe, FQ VI.ix.3 1.3-4. 

halfe fordonne: 1. half done before; 2. exhausted (OED lie), and since 
Spenser normally uses the prefix 'fore' as an intensifier, more exhausted (see FQ 

4. neu) breath: 1. new life and refreshed vigor; 2. new inspiration, the classical and 

scriptural divinus inflatus, see Col 823-24. 
5-6. steed . . . prison: The simile was a classical one from Vergil, Aen. 11.292-3, 
"Qualies ubi abruptis fugit praesepia vinclis / Tandem liber equus campoque 
potitus aperto. ..." See Homer, II. 6.506 and Tasso, Gerusalemme JJherata, 9.75. 
The day's second lesson at morning prayer, Matt. 5.25, warns "Agre with thine 
aduersarie quickely, . . . lest . . . thou be cast into prison." 

5. toyle: 1. hard labor, exertion; but 2. a suggestion of an enclosure in which an 

animal is trapped is also retained. 
7. assoyle: 1. discharge myself of the task; but 2. from the prison also. 

9. mevu: 1. a place of secret retirement, a study or den, (OED 3c); 2. a prison (6); 3. 

secondarily, a cage in which hawks and falcons were kept — the falconine image 
recurs later in the sonnet (see line 12 note); 4. finally, a stable, associated with 
steed (5; when the king's stables were built on the site of the royal falcons' mews 
at Charing Cross, by association they were called the Royal Mews). 

10. sport my muse: enliven, recreate (as in gather to my selfe new breath), but note the 
homonym, muse/mews. 

1 1 . heauenly hew: 1 . Neo-Platonically, a heavenly form or shape — see Am. 3.8 note; 
2. possibly an oblique equine reference, a steed, when it knocks its legs together, 
being said to hew them (OED 8). 

12. hig/ier pitch: 1. to a more intense or higher degree; 2. to a higher musical pitch 
- continuing the image of sing (10); 3. when connected with mew (9), the 
highest point of flight of a hawk or falcon before swooping (OED 18). 

13. low and meane: 1. literarily, an unadorned, plain style (OED a 1 11 3c) — an echo 
of the affected modesty of the opening stanza to FQ, "Me, all to meane, the 
sacred Muse areeds" (I. Pr.i.7); 2. musically, the degree in descant between the 
treble and base parts {OED a 2 lb). 

Tuesday 7 May: Morning Prayer: Pss. 35-36, Matt. 5. Evening Prayer: Ps. 37, Rom. 6. 

Sonnet 81 

Lee 197 describes Sonnet 81 as "little better than a literal translation" of Tasso 's 
"Bella e la donna mia, se del bel crine" (Rime, 2.25.17): 

Bella e la donna mia, se del bel crine 

L'oro al vento ondeggiar avvien ch' io miri, 

Bella, se volger gli occhi in vaghi giri, 

O le rose fiorir tra neve e brine. 

E bella, dove poggi, ove s'inchina; 

Dov' orgoglio I'inaspra a' miei desiri, 

Belli sono i suoi sdegni, e quei martiri, 

216 Commentary 

Che mi fan degno d'onorato fine. 

Ma quella, ch' apre un dolce labro, e serra, 

Porta de' bei rubin si dolcemente, 

E belta sovra ogn' altra altera ed alma. 

Porta gentil della prigion dell' alma, 

Onde i messi d'Amor escon sovente, 

E portan dolce pace, e dolce guerra. 
Spenser, while following Tasso's distrihutio or merismos (Rix 48), has as usual selected 
some of Tasso's details and omitted others. The sonnet bears no resemblance to the 
coincident scripture readings for Wednesday 8 May. 

1. fayre golden heares: A common feature of Petrarchist Ladies, e.g., Belphoebe's 

hair, FQII.iii.30.1. 

2. loose wynd ye wauing: The locus classicus of hair waving in the wind was Vergil, 

Aen. 1.318, "comam diffundere ventis." 

3. Where Tasso's roses are generally white, Spenser customarily presents cheeks as 

red roses, e.g., Belphoebe, FQ II.iii.22.5-6. 
5-6. An element of Spenser's not found in the original. Spenser nowhere else 

compares the breast with a bark. 
7-8. Compare the chiaroscuro of Ariosto, Orl. Fur. VII. 12.2-3, "son duo negri 

occhi, anzi duo chiari soli, / pietosi a riguardare, a mover parchi." 
8. with smiles she driues away: Contrast Am. 21.12, "her smile me drawes, her frowne 

me driues away." 
10-12. Spenser has added to Tasso's "Porta de' bei rubin" the standard association 

of pearls from Rev. 21.21, "And the twelue gates were twelue pearles, and euerie 

gate is of one pearle," see Am. 15.8-9 & FQ II.iii.24.6-8 (with its reference to 

Song of Sol. 4.11), "And when she spake, / Sweet words ... / . . . twixt the 

perles and rubins softly brake." The association was standard among Petrarch- 

ists, e.g., Lynche, Diego and Gynevra, 74-76. 
12. the message of her gentle spright: Tasso's "Porta gentil . . . dell' alma, / Onde i 

messi d' Amor escon sovente," although "gentil" has been transferred from gate 

to spright. 
13-14. Spenser's own conclusion and a departure from Tasso. 

Wednesday 8 May: Morning Prayer: Pss. 38-40, Matt. 6. Evening Prayer: Pss. 41-43, Rom. 7. 

Sonnet 82 

For the feast of the Ascension, Thursday 9 May, Spenser has chosen to celebrate 
the lady's heavenly name. The poet's lowliness and poetic inadequacy echoes his 
similar plaint and question in FQ II. x. 1.1-5: 

Who now shall giue vnto me words and sound, 
Equall vnto this haughtie enterprise? 
Or who shall lend me wings, with which from ground 
My lowly verse may loftily arise 
And lift it selfe vnto the highest skies? 
This is the third time the theme of poetic immortality has been used in the 
sequence (see Am. 27.9-12 & Am. 75.4-12). 

1. toy: The poet's joy reflects the feast's special morning prayer Ps. 21.6, "For thou 
shalt giue him euerlasting felicitie: and make him glad with the ioy of thy 
countenance." It is also reminiscent of the address in FQ II. i. 31. 1-3, "Ioy may 

Commentary 217 

you haue, and euerlasting fame, . . . For which enrolled is your glorious name / 
In heauenly Registers aboue the sunne." TTie thought was a poetically familiar 
one, e.g., Sidney, AS 69.1, "O ioy, too high for my low stile to show." 
2. / blesse my lot: Garresponding to Ps. 21.3, "For thou shal preuent him with the 
blessings of goodnesse," and in line with Am. 66.1, "To all those happy bless- 
ings which ye haue, / with plenteous hand by heauen vpon you thrown." 

lot: 1 . the marked piece used in the contest of chance to determine an out- 
come — the image is continued in so lucky placed; 2. fate, fortune (= sors; see 
note Am. 66.9); 3. providential plan, (so identified in Am. 84.14, "blesse your 
fortunes fayre election") — in contrast to Spenser's "luckelesse lot" as he 
embarks on FQ Book 111 (see 111. Pr.3.4). See Ariosto, Orl. Fur. 111.2.2, "dal ciel 

placed: in Am. 66.2 the lots are "thrown." 
4-8. See headnote, FQ 11. x. 1.1-5. The lines are a translation of Ariosto, Orl. Fur. 

Chi mi dara la voce, e le parole 
Convenienti a si nobil soggetto? 
Chi I'ale al verso pristera, che vole 
Tanto ch' arivi a I'alto mio concetto? 
Molto maggior di quel furor, che suole, 
Ben or convien, che mi riscaldi il petto. 
Ariosto's "furor" is found in Sonnet 82's closest companion. Am. 85.11, 
"heauenly fury." 
5. equall heuens: impartial, even — as in an even lay or lot (= aequus; see headnote, 
FQ II. X. 1.2). A common expression, e.g., Greene, Groatsworth of witte, 42, 
"Equal heauen hath denied that comfort." 
6-7. inuent I som heuenly wit: discover; an inversion, for invention is generally the 
result of wit; invention, as the first part of rhetoric, is the first of the five inward 
wits (OED Id). The thought's bcus classicus is Ovid, Met. 15.878-79, with its 
sense of prophecy, "perque omnia saecula fama, / siquid habent veri vatum 
presagia, vivam." 

wit: 1. mind, intelligence; 2. poet. 

7. enchased: 1. enshrined as a relic (= French enchasser); 2. set as a jewel in gold, 

replicating Ps. 21.3, "For thou . . . shalt set a crowne of pure golde vpon his 
head" (Vulgate, coronam de lapide pretioso = a crown of precious stones); 3. 
engraved - a meaning used elsewhere by Spenser (e.g., FQ lV.x.8.7-8), and 
hence a possible echo of the day's special first lesson at evening prayer, 2 (4) 
Kings 2.7, "Send me now therefore a cunning man that can worke in golde . . . 
and that can graue in grauen worke," and 14, "and he can skill to worke in 
golde . . . and can graue in all grauen workes, and broder in all broydred worke." 

8. ^rious name: Reflecting the praises of Ps. 8.1 & 9, "how excellent is thy name 

in all the worlde: thou that hast set thy glory aboue the heauens." Compare 
Am. 75.12, "and in the heuens wryte your glorious name." 

golden moniment: See Am. 69.9-10, "Euen this verse vowed to eternity, / 
shall be thereof immortall moniment," and compare evening prayer Ps. 68.13, 
"her feathers like golde," a verse reflected in the "golden quill" of the associat- 
ed sonnet, Am. 85.10. 
12. setting your immortall prayses forth: Compare the repeated use of the word in Ps. 
21.3, Ps. 15.4, & Ps. 8.1 & 9, "set," and "setteth," together with Ps. 68.4, 

218 Commentary 

"sing praises vnto his name . . . praise him in his name, yea, and reioyce before 

13. lofty argument: In exact imitation of the opening detail to the feast's Epistle, 
Acts 1.2 (Vulgate), in multis argumentis (koine, tv TioXXoiq T8K|xr|ioi(; = 
conclusive or lofty arguments). See headnote, FQ II.x.1.4, "My lowly verse may 
loftily arise," and Ariosto, Orl. Fur. III. 1.4, "I'alto mio concetto." 

13-14. vpUftingme, shall lift you vp: Imitating morning prayer Ps. 24.7 & 9, "Lift vp 
your heades, O ye gates, and be ye lift vp ye euerlasting doores"; see headnote, 
FQ II.x.1.5). 

14. vnto an hi^ degree: Continues the Ascension imagery, see Ps. 68.18, "Thou art 
gone vpon high." 

Thursday 9 May, Ascension: Epistle: Acts 1.1-12. Gospel: Mark 16.14-20. Morning Prayer: Pss. 
8, 15, 21, Deut. 10, Matt. 7. Evening Prayer: Pss. 24, 68, 108, 2 (4) Kings 2, Rom. 8. 

Sonnet 83 

Sonnet 83 is a virtual repetition of Sonnet 35. It bears no correspondence with any 

of the proper psalms or any of the second lessons for Friday 10 May or Saturday 1 1 


6. seeing: the only change from Am. 35.6: "hauing." 

Friday 10 May / Saturday II May: Morning Prayer: Pss. 50-52 / 56-58, Matt. 8 / 9. Evening 

Prayer: Pss. 53-55 / 59-61, Rom. 9 / 10. 

Sonnet 84 

Sonnet 84's conclusion gives thanks for the poet's election, an appropriate conclu- 
sion to a sonnet written for Expectation Sunday, 12 May, whose second lesson at 
evening prayer in 1594 was Rom. 11, the principal scriptural account of the 
doctrine of election: "Euen so then at this present time is there a remnant through 
the election of grace. And if it be of grace, it is no more of workes; or els were grace 
no more grace" (vv. 5-6). The sonnet's structural distinction between sensuall desyre 
(3) and pure affections (5), and its final imputation of election to the poet's spiritual 
part corresponds exactly with Paul's ascribing election not to the realm of the flesh 
but of grace. TTie poet also observes Paul's link between election and love, "as 
touching the election, they are beloued for the fathers sakes" (v. 28). 
1-14. The octet's syntax is ambiguous, see Osgood {Variorum, Minor Poems, 2.452): 
" 'Affections' and 'thoughts' seem to be vocative, and 'goe' imperative, unless 
some influence of 'Let' lingers about it to make it infinitive. And what is the 
antecedent of singular 'your selfe' — 'affections,' thoughts,' or an implied 'eyes'? 
Perhaps it is a sonnet conceived as embodying all these." It is clear, however, 
that the pxiet is addressing his two selves, his carnal, which he calls to suppress 
itself, and his spiritual, the pure affections (5) and modest thoughts (6), which he 
admonishes to [let] goe visit (7). 
1 & 7. Let not & [let] goe visit: The instructions imitate the repeated admonitory 
formulae, "Let vs . . . ," of the Commirmtion against sinners, which was customari- 
ly read after morning prayer in churchs, "Upon one of the two Sundays next 
before the feast of Pentecost" {Liturgical Services of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth 
(1847) 239). 

filthy lustfull fyre: corresponding with the Commimition's omnipresent refer- 
ences to "fire and brimstone" and its instruction "Goe ye cursed into the fire 

Commentary 219 

3-4. ne one li^t ^nce ofsensuall desyre I Attempt to work her gentle mindes vnrest: See 

the similar aspiration, Epith. 198-99. Epith.'s 11th section bears some similarity 

with the themes of Am. 82 & 24. 
5-6. pure affections . . . modest thoughts: Compare the Commination's advice, "Tume 

you cleane," and its proper psalm, Ps. 51, throughout. 
5. pure affections: In contrast to the "base affections" of Epith. 196, which are ruled 

over by "vnspotted faith." 

spotlesse: Qjmpare the day's second lesson at morning prayer, Matt. 10.16, 

"innocent (koine, dcK^paioi = spotless, uncontaminated) as doves." 

12. too constant stiffenesse: TTie lady's undisceming obstinacy corresponds to the 
plight of Israel, whose hardness prevented its election in Rom. 11.7, "Israel 
hathe not obteined that he soght: but the election hathe obteined it, and the 
rest haue bene hardened" (see v. 25, with its elective "secret" that "obstinacie 
is come to Israel," and its sidenote q, "Meaning stubbemes and induration." 
The day's Commination also condemns "obstinate sinners" and the "stub- 
bemesse of their hearte"). 

13. rare perfection: See Am. 24.2 note. 

14. blesse your fortunes: See Am. 82.2, "I blesse my lot," where "lot" derivately 
intends providence. 

Sunday 12 May, Sunday after Ascension: Epistle; 1 Pet. 4.7-12. Gospel: John 15.26-16.4. 
Morning Prayer: Pss. 62-64, Matt. 10. Evening Prayer: Pss. 65-67, Rom. 11. 

Sonnet 85 

1-14. Sonnet 85, which corresponds to the Monday of Expectation Week, 13 May, 
opens with an indirect reference to the secret nature of election with which 
Sonnet 84 concludes. Its distinction between the unilluminated judgement of 
the world and the poet's true appraisal corresponds to that of Matt. 1 1 , the day's 
second lesson at morning prayer, between those to whom true judgement has 
been given and those of the world to whom it has not, "I giue thee thankes, 6 
Father, Lord of heauen and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the 
wise and men of vnderstanding" (v. 25; the sidenote to the parallel verse, Luke 
10.21, explains, "He attributeth it to the free election of God, that the wise and 
worldings knowe not the Gospel, and yet the poore base people vnderstand 

3. Cuckow: See Am. 19.1, "Cuckow, messenger of Spring." In Matt. 11.10 it is the 

prophet John who is the messenger, "Beholde, I send my messenger (koine, 
&yyeX6v = messenger, see Am. 70.1 note, "herald") before thy face." 
Mauis: the song-thrush; see Epith. 81. 

4. ivitlesse: In contrast to heauenly fury (1 1) and the "heuenly wit" of Am. 82,7. 

clatter: talking idly or emptily; the cuckoo was known for its repetition of 
the same sound without variation. 

5-6. But they that skill not of so heauenly matter, I all that they know not: echoes the 
claim about secret and heavenly knowledge in Matt. 11.27, "no man knoweth 
the Sonne, but the Father: nether knoweth any man the Father, but the 

8. not to deeme of her desert aspyre: observes the Pauline admonition in the day's 
second lesson at evening prayer, Rom. 12.3, "that no man presume to vnder- 
stand aboue that which is mete to vnderstand." 
desert: excellence, worth. 

220 Commentary 

9-14. The secret nature of the poet's divine inspiration corresponds to the nature 
and origin of the elects' secret knowledge, the sidenote to Matt. 11.26 stating, 
"Faith Cometh not of mans wil or power, but by the secret illumination of God." 

9. Deepe . . . parts entyre: Contrast Am. 6.11, "deepe . . . parts entire" 

closet: 1. the secret and most private part; 2. physically, associated with the 
heart and the pericardium (see La Primaudaye 2.221) and the breast or womb. 

10. written with, a golden quill: either 1. the feather of a bird formed into a pen, 
corresponding to morning prayer Ps. 68.13, "and her feathers like gold" (Vul- 
gate, pennae . . . aun); or 2. the hollow stem of a reed in its transferred sense of 
a pen or quill, corresponding to Matt. 11.7, "A reed shaken with the winde" 
(Vulgate, harundinem; see also Vulgate Psalm 68.30, arundinis, a psalm shared 
with Sonnet 82, see Am. 82.8 note); 3. secondarily, a reed pipe, echoing Matt. 
11.16-17, "we haue piped vnto you" (koine, HuXfjoaiisv = we have played on 
a reed instrument), which is expanded later in her shrill trump shal thunder (13). 
In FQ 11.x. 3. 1-9 the classical quill of Homer is out-blazoned by the trumpet. 

11. heauenly fury: the prophetic rage with which the poet-magus is inspired from 
above, corresponding to the Plato's \iavia as used in Phaedrus, 245A, the other 
variety of which is earlier associated with prophecy ("fj \iavia 8yy£V0|XEvr| Kai 
7tpo(t)riT8uaaoa" [Phaedrus, 244D]). The term had been defined by Cicero, De 
Divinatione, 1.31.66, "ea [praesagitio] si exarsit acrius, furor appellatus, cum a 
corpore animis abstractus divino instinctu concitatur," and popularized by 
Ficino, whose 1482 translation of Plato's Ion bore the subtitle, De Furore Poetico; 
see Sidney, Apologie, LV, "they are so beloued of the Gods, that whatsoeuer 
they write, proceeds of a diuine fury." It is the same as the "heauenly fury" with 
which Artegal interprets Britomart's dream {FQ V.vii.20.9) and the "halfe 
extatick stoure" of Merlin (deriving from Ariosto, Orl. Fur. III. 9.4, "il profetico 
spirito di Merlino"), when he prophesies about Elizabeth's reign. Like Am. 82 
Sonnet 85 owes something to Ariosto, Orl. Fur. III. 1.5-6, "Molto maggior di 
quel furor, che suole, / Ben or convien, che mi riscaldi il petto." 

The sonnet's prophetic inspiration finds a correspondence with Matt. 1 1 .9, 
speaking of John, "A Prophet? Yea . . . more then a Prophet," and Rom. 12.6, 
"whether we haue prophecie, let vs prophecie according to the proportion of 
faith." The whole sonnet is in keeping with the heavenly inspiration whose 
arrival is awaited during Expectation Week. 
13. her shrill trump shal thunder: Compare Am. 29.12, and the cuckoo in Am. 19.1-2, 
with whom the "trompet shrill" is also associated. 

Monday 13 May: Morning Prayer: Ps. 68, Matt. 11. Evening Prayer: Pss. 69-70, Rom. 12. 

Sonnet 86 

An unusual sonnet in its recrimination, although in part an adversative poem to the 
Am. 85 's "heauenly fury." Such maledictions often find at least one place in sonnet 
sequences, e.g., Petrarch, Rime, 206, "S' i' '1 dissi mai," where the poet, accused of 
disturbing his beloved by loving another, condemns the slander and false lies after 
the manner of an Old Testament prophet. Spenser concludes the first six books of 
FQ on a similar recriminatory note (VI.xii.41). 

1 . Venemous toung tipt with vile adders sting: Reflects the malediction in the second 
lesson at morning prayer for Tuesday 14 May, Matt. 12.34-37, "O generacions 
of vipers (with its Geneva version sidenote, Or, broodes), how can you speake 

Commentary 221 

good things, when ye are euil? ... an euil man out of an euil treasure, bringeth 
forth euil things. But I say vnto you, that of euerie idle worde that men shal 
speake, they shal giue acounte thereof at the day of iudgement. ... by thy 
wordes thou shalt be condemned" (see Am. 2.1, "Vnquiet thought," which 
corresponds to the Matthew's condemnation when it was read for TTiursday 24 
January). Allecto, the first Fury (Vergil, Aen. 7.351), exudes similar poisonous 
viperous thoughts, "vipeream inspirans animam." 

Furies: TTie three avenging goddesses with snakes twined in their hair, "the 
Authours of all euill and mischiefe" (Gloss to SC Nov., 164; see Vergil, Aen. 

TTie allusion recalls the figure of Ate, Discord, who "was borne of hellish 
brood, / And by infemall furies nourished" {FQ IV.i.26.7-8, see Homer, II. 
19.91-94, 126-31). The conceit's locus classicus, where Agamemnon invokes the 
Furies to condemn slander and perjury occurs later, II. .258-65, "tpivveq, ai 
9'u7id yaiav / dv0pt67tou(; Tfvuvxai, dxic, k' ^TtiopKov d^oaaTj, / . . . e( 6^ 
Ti tcl)v5 ■ ^TiiopKov, ^|ioi 0eoi d^^yea 5oiev / noXXd |iaX ' , 6aaa 6i8oOoiv, 
6tic; a^' dA.(TT|Tai 6\i6aaaq" (Chapman, 19.251-57, "ye Furies vnder earth 
that euery soule torment / Whom impious periury distaines . . . and let my 
plagues be such / As are inflicted by the gods, in all extremitie / of whomsoeuer 
perjur'd men, if godlesse periury / In least degree dishonor me"); Spenser has 
taken cognisance of the passage later, see lines 5 and 7 notes. 

In imitation of Petrarch Spenser has more particularly drawn upon a range 
of matching detail in the Old Testament psalmic curse, Ps. 140, "Deliuer me, 
O Lord, from the euil man," which Christ's condemnation of the scribes and 
pharisees in Matt. 12.34-37 was traditionally accepted as paralleling. He para- 
phrases the Geneva Bible version of the psalm, including its condemnation of 
slanderers, "TTiei haue sharpened their tongues like a serpent: adders poyson is 
vnder their lippes" (v. 3), see toung (1), vile adders (1), poysoned (4). Such men 
"make warre continually" (v. 2; Coverdale, "stirre vp strife"; compare stirre vp 
181). The sonnet's coles of yre (8) and vpon thee fall (6) reshape the psalm's curse 
"Let coles fall vpon them" (v. 10); fyre (9), and hell (5), appear in the curse's 
continuation, "let him cast them into the fyre, and into the depe pittes," (a 
synonym for hell). TTie concluding condemnation, mischiefe thy reward, I dew to 
thy selfe that it for me prepard, replicates the psalm's condemnation, "let the 
mischief of their owne lippes come vpon them" (v. 9; Coverdale, "fall vpon the 
head of them"). The sonnet's details also find a correspondence with the 
psalm's sidenotes: Let all the plagues (5) with the note, "Gods plagues shal light 
vpon him," and false forged lyes .../... let IciTuile (7-9) with the further note, 
"by their false . . . lies thei kindle the hatred of the wicked against me." 

Spenser had, in FQ IV.viii.26.8-9, already identified the figure of slander 
with the asp through the association with Ps. 140, "For like the stings of Aspes, 
that kill with smart, / Her spightfull words did pricke, and wound the inner 
part." Likewise Detraction, who was "neare to Enuie" is pictured using the 
same psalmic verse in V.xii.36.3-5, "her cursed tongue full sharpe and short / 
Appear'd like Aspis sting, that closely kils, / Or cruelly does wound, whom so 
she wils." 

fell: 1. fierce, dreadful - in imitation of Vergil, Aen. 2.337, "tristis Erinys"; 
2. deadly (particularly when used of poison); 3. in a transferred sense, rancorous- 
ly, as with gall; 4. possibly a fell of hair - a reference to the Furies' hair. 

222 Commentary 

3. combe: 1. dress their heads; but 2. reminiscent of a cockscomb. 

4. poysoned words: Reflecting the "idle worde" of Matt. 12.37. 

spitefull speeches: Spenser, in contrast to many medieval writers who com- 
mend jealousy as a means of enhancing love, generally denounces it as a threat 
to true love, see FQ III. 11.1-2, where jealousy "that tumest loue diuine / To 
ioylesse dread" is addressed as "O HatefuU hellish Snake, what furie furst / 
Brought thee from balefuU house of Proserpine." 

5. horrid paines of hell: a translation of Homer's "dA-yea . . . 7ioA.A.d |iaX'" (which 

Chapman [19.254] translates as "plagues," and Pope as "horrid woes"). Tisi- 

phone, the third Fury, appears with a scourge of snakes as the portress to hell in 

Vergil, Aen. 6.57-74. 
7. false forged lies: corresponding to Homer's "^7i(opKOV 6|aoaar|." 
11. conspire: See Matt. 12.14, where the pharisees, who slandered Christ, "consulted 

against him, how they might destroye him." 
13. shame he thy meed: See FQ "Honi soit qui mal y pense," the motto of 

the Knights of the Garter. Contrast the intent of morning prayer Ps. 71.11 & 

22, "My tongue also shall talke of they righteousnesse ... for they are . . . 

brought vnto shame that seeke to do me euill." 

Tuesday 14 May: Morning Prayer: Pss. 71-72, Matt. 12. Evening Prayer: Pss. 73-74, Rom. 13. 

Sonnet 87 

The first of three concluding sonnets lamenting the lady's absence and seeking 
consolation for it. The conjunction of reascend (8) and expectation (9) associate it 
with the period eifter the Ascension and leading up to the feast of Pentecost, which 
"is called Expectation-week for now the Apostles were earnestly expecting the 
fulfilling of that promise of our Lord, If I go away, I will ser\d the Comforter to you, S. 
John 16.7" (Sparrow 170). 

1-14. The poet's preoccupation with the slow passing of night and day reflects the 
observation of Paul in the second lesson at evening prayer for Wednesday 15 
May, Rom. 14.5, "This man estemeth one day aboue another, and another man 
counteth euerie daye a like." (The verse expands one firom the preceding 
chapter, "The night is past, and the day is at hand.") 

The sonnet's extended reverse aubade, caused by the absence of the poet's 
beloved, is like the psalmist who, in "heauinesse" and lacking "comfort," 
laments the Lord's absence in the day's morning prayer Ps. 77.2-7, "In the time 

of my trouble I sought the Lord ... in the night season Tliou boldest mine 

eyes waking ... in the night 1 commune with mine owne heart and search out 
my spirits. Will the Lord absent him selfe for euer?" 
2. long weary dayes: For the locus classicus of the weariness of day succeeding night 
and night day, see Ovid, Met. 15.188, "Cum lassa quiete" (Golding, 15.206-09, 
"We see that after day commes nyght and darks the sky, / And after nyght the 
lyghtsum Sunne succeedeth orderly. / Like colour is not in the heauen when all 
things weery lye / At midnyght sound a sleepe." 

outwome: 1. worn out; 2. a sense of exhaustion is also implied. Compare 
FQ 111. v. 6 1.1, Arthur's complaint against the night, "Thus did the Prince that 
wearie night outweare." 
4. protract: its only Spenserian usage; prolongation, both of time (from euening vntill 
mome) and space (from west to east). 

Commentary 223 

5-8. The antithetical thought was frequent among poets, e.g., Shakespeare, Sonnet 

6. noyous: annoying. 

7. forlome: 1. forsaken; 2. secondarily, forlorn hope or expectation. 

8. reascend: The only occasion Spenser uses the word. 

9. expectation: See headnote, Expectation Week. The same temporal association may 

underly Sidney's lament, AS 21.7-11, "least else that friendly foe, / Great 
expectation, weare a traine of shame. / For since mad March great promise made 
of me, / If now the May of my years much decline, / ^X^at can be hoped my 
haruest time will be?" 

10. fain: 1. wish, desire; 2. a possible pun on 'feign,' fashion. 

beguile: to distract the attention from pain. 

11. term: 1. period; 2. the condition of grief {weary dayes and many nights). 

his: its = griefs. 

12. minute: the shortest period of time for the Elizabethan. 

myle: 1. mile; 2. homonymically, moil (= toil, drudgery; see Shakespeare, 
Sonnet 50.4-6); minute and myle recall the temporal and spatial oi from euening 
vntill mome (4). 
Wednesday 15 May: Morning Prayer: Pss. 75-77, Matt. 13. Evening Prayer: Ps. 78, Rom. 14. 

Sonnet 88 

Sonnet 88's use of technical Platonic terms, particularly its Idaea playne (9), is the 
most consistent and, apparently, most conscious of all the amoretti. But any explicit 
adherence to Platonic doctrine, as some have discerned (Lee xcviii, Casady 288), 
runs contrary to the anti-Platonic direction of the final couplet. Rather Spenser has 
turned Plato's terminology into a conceit of his own devising. The poet's mind may 
be sustained by contemplating the image of the heavenly ray as revealed in the lady, 
the true Idea of beauty itself, but the paradoxical starving of his body is insisted 
upon with down-to-earth reality. 

The poet's lack of light fits properly with the liturgical perspectives of Expecta- 
tion Week. As well, the proximate comfort of the Holy Spirit's coming at Pentecost 
has been fused with the details of the second lesson at morning prayer for Thursday 
16 May, Matt. 14, a combination of liturgical theme and distinctive scriptural 
imagery which occurred only in 1594. Matt. 14 recounts that, when the disciples 
saw Christ walking on the water, they cried out in fear, "It is a spirit" (v. 26; 
Vulgate, phantasma, koine, (|)dvTaajid). <l>dvTaa^a was used by Plato to indicate 
an image presented to the mind as an object. He associates it {Phaedo, 64. D) with 
the darkness and shadows of the visible world and sees it as a portion of the visible 
still remaining with the spiritual. He elsewhere differentiates it from eiKCOV {Sophist, 
236. B-Q, defining it a as semblance (= <|)dvTaCT|xa) rather than an original 
likeness (= eiKtov). As in Am. 45, where Spenser adopted the Platonic e(k(5v to 
fulfill a liturgical correspxjndence, so here he has also chosen to write a sonnet of 
Platonic cast to correspond with the day's uncommon scriptural use of (|)dvTaa}xa. 
1-4. The vocabulary of sonnet's opening quatrain, comfort, affrayd, night and dangers, 
all reflect Matt. 14, when Christ, who "in the fourth watche of the night" 
walked towards the disciples' boat endangered by a storm, said, "Be of good 
comfort. It is I: be not afraied" (v. 27). (Peter is also reported as "afraied" Iv. 
301, which the Geneva version glosses, "he must nedes fall in danger.") 

224 Commentary 

3. I wander as in darkenesse: Compare evening prayer Ps. 82.5, "walke on still in 

5-6. 1. physically, when others look upon their shadows in full daylight; 2. philo- 
sophically, an allusion to the Platonic world of shadows. 

6. shadowes vayne: The Platonic phenomenal world of which (j)avTdo| are part 

was differentiated from the true world of l5Sai; compare Am. 35.13-14, a 
sonnet also coinciding with an account of the feeding of 5000 (see line 12 note). 
TTie phrase is often used by Spenser in a non-Platonic way to commend the 
simple life, e.g., FQ VI. ix. 27.3-6, and to condemn the busy life at court 

8. whereof some glance doth in mine tie remayne: Exactly rendering the notion behind 

Plato's (j)dvTaa|ia (see headnote). 

7. th'onely image of that heauenly ray: See Am. 45.11, "ymage" (= eiKCOv) and Am. 

78.4, "ymage." The same thought occurs in HB 184-88, "It you behoues to 
loue, and forth to lay / That heauenly riches, which in you ye beare, / That men 
the more admyre their fountaine may, / For else what booteth that celestiall raf, 
If it in darknesse be enshrined euer." Renwick 156 cites Bembo, Rime, f. 3F, 
"La bella immagin sua veduta in parte / 11 digiun pasce, e i miei sospiri acqueta." 

9. Idaea: the I56a of Plato, undarkened by the dross of physicality, and in contrast 

to (t)avTdafiaTa; see Am. 45.7, "the fayre Idea of your celestial hew." 

playne: 1. clear, in contrast to clearest day (5); 2. possibly a trace of Latin 
plenum (French plein) = full. 

10. through contemplation: See HHB 134-37, "Thence gathering plumes of perfect 
speculation, / To impe the wings of thy high flying mynd, / Mount vp aloft 
through heauenly contemplation, / From this darke world," where the direction 
is clearly an ascension. Here, however, the object of the poet's contemplation, 
although absent, remains on earth. 

12. feed my loue-affamisht hart: see Matt. 14, where " Christ fedeth fiue thousand" (vv. 
13-21). Spenser's distinction between spiritual and bodily nourishment matches 
the Geneva version's sidenote to the account, "Christ leaueth them not 
destitute of bodelie noourishment, which seke the fode of the soule." 
loue-affamisht: a unique occurrence in Spenser. 

Thursday 16 May: Morning Prayer: Pss. 79-81, Matt. 14. Evening Prayer: Pss. 82-85, Rom. 15. 

Sonnet 89 

Sonnet 89 is associated with Pentecost through its image of the Culuer and its 
allusion to the liturgical occasion of the coming of Holy Spirit, the heavenly 
comforter. No marked correspondence exists between the sonnet and any of the 
proper psalms or either of the second lessons for Friday 17 May. Spenser may have 
had in mind Tasso's "O vaga tortorella" {Rime, 4.50.399), although any reference 
to widow would have been inappropriate. 
O vaga tortorella 

tu la tua compagnia 

ed io pianago colei che non fii mia. 

Misera vedovella, 

tu sovra il nudo ramo, 

a pi^ del secco tronco io la richiamo: 

mal'aura solo c 'I vento 

rispondc mormorando al mio lamento. 

Commentary 225 

The poet's plaint anticipates the sohtary notes which begin Epith., "So I vnto my 
selfe alone will sing" (17). 

I. Culuer: Dove, and emblem of the Holy Spirit. In FQ IV.viii.3-12 the dove, by 

leading Belphoebe back to Timias overcomes their separation. Thus by implica- 
tion the separation of the lovers here will also be overcome. 

bared bough: see Tasso, "il nudo ramo," & TM 245-46, where the poet 
associates his plaint with the lament of Euterpe, the muse of lyric poetry and 
inventor of the double flute: 

All comfortlesse vpon the bared bow, 

Like wofull culuers doo sit wayling now. 
3. wishful vow: 1. a vow full of wishes; 2. wished-for vow. In Epith. 385-87 the vow 
is one full of wishes only, the wished-for vow having already been exchanged. 

9. that vnder heauen doth houe: 1. finger (4), expect; 2. hover — which sustains the 

bird simile and recalls the description of the culvers in Vergil, Aen. 6.191, "ipsa 
sub ora viri caelo venere volantes"; 3. pass on, pass by {OED 3). 

10. comfort: See morning prayer Ps. 86.4, "Comfort the soule of thy seruant." 

II. aspect: aspect. Her face is hauntingly absent in Am. 78.8. 

God: here, at the conclusion, the only occasion in the sequence when God 
is specifically mentioned. 
12. vnspotted pleasauns: Spenser for the greater part of FQ uses the noun only with 
a negative association (Duessa [l.ii.30.1], the House of Pride [l.iv.38.2], the Red 
Cross Knight's fall [l.vii.4.2], Phaedria [], the Bower of Blisse (ll.xii.50.3] 
and Cupid's masque [lll.xii.18.1]). Only late in Book VI (x.5.4), does he assso- 
ciate pleasauns with the unfallen. 

Friday 17 May: Morning Prayer: Pss. 86-88, Matt. 15. Evening Prayer: Ps. 89, Rom. 16. 


The classical precedent for Spenser's placing before his Epithalamium a series of three 
fescennine anacreontic verses lies with the model set by Claudian, whose Epithalarm- 
UTTX de nuptiis Honorii Augusti, wherever it is found in extant Latin manuscripts, is 
preceded by four short fescennine verses. (See Birt, cxxix-cxxxiii, who establishes 
among the manuscripts six orders of Claudian's major poems. In the five series 
which contain the Epithalamium it is preceded always by the Fescinnina.) Renaissance 
editors of Claudian adopted the same poetic order of placing the Fescinnina immedi- 
ately prior to the Epithalamium, beginning with the Vicenza edition of 1482, and 
subsequently in those of Venice (1500), Vienna (1510), Florence (1519), Paris 
(1530), and particularly that of Basil (1534) which places the Fescennina before both 
Claudian's Epithalamium de nuptiis Honorii Augusti and a relocated Epithalamium 
dictum Palladio . . . et Celerinae. This linking was observed in the subsequent editions 
of Lyon (1535 & 1551) and Antwerp (1571) (see Birt clxxxiv-cxciv). 

Spenser's inclusion before his Epithalamion of anacreontic verses, whose ques- 
tionable nature caused some earlier commentators to doubt his authorship — and 
apparently caused Sidney on his deathbed to disown his Anacreontics (see Duncan- 
Jones, "Sidney's Anacreontics," 226) - thus observes the classical model provided 
by Claudian. The Anacreontics also bear a resemblance to the theme of Claudian's 
fourth and concluding Fescennirm, whose lopos is that of the bee defending its honey 

226 Commentary 

from stealing. The genial context given by Claudian to Theocritus' Kr|piOKA,€7tTT|(; 
had already been adopted by Spenser in Am. 26. 

James Hutton 106-31 has demonstrated the widespread development of the 
KripiOKX^Tixriq motif following the publication in 1485 of the Aldine Theocritus 
and the 1554 Paris edition of the Anacreontis Teii odae by Henri Estienne. The 
invention, found in Theocritus' Idyll 19, was ascribed originally to him, although 
latterly to Bion or Moschus. Facets of the invention are found in Anacreontea, 35, 
but the matter of the two poems is so closely allied that their influence can only be 
traced together. Hutton identifies some 130 workings of the motif in a list that 
concludes with the end of the 18th century and which contains such names as 
Tasso, Alciati, Ronsard, de Baif, Estienne, Scaliger, Belleau and Whitney (147, "Fei 
in me/Ie"), any of which Spenser could have read. He identifies "certain divergent 
traits" which distinguish the two Greek models, but concludes that Spenser's 
Anacreontic verses, like many neo-Latin, French and Italian versions, are a syncre- 
tic compilation of the two sources and manifest features whose proximate origins are 
finally indeterminable. 

Some of the verses' features do, however, find a kinship with elements particular 
to both TTieocritus and Anacreon, as well as Claudian, Tasso, Marot and Watson. 
Evidence exists to suggest that Spenser was familiar with the Greek versions of 
Theocritus and Anacreon, for he had apparently already translated Moschus' Idyll, 
"Epcog 5pa7i^Tr|q (Amor Fugitivus or The Fugitive Love), with which the 
KripiOKA-^Ttxrig invention was closely identified. E. K.'s gloss to SC March, 79, 
notes, "... Moschus his Idyllion of wandring loue, being now most excellently 
translated into Latine by the singuler learned man Angelus Politianus: whych worke 
1 haue seene amongst other of thys Poets doings, very wel translated also into 
Englishe Rymes." Spenser later recounts Venus' search for the fugitive Cupid as a 
prelude to the Garden of Adonis in FQ 11-26. The Anacreontea would have 
been available to him, as they were to Sidney, in Estienne's 1554 Greek edition 
with Latin verse translations. The theme was popular amongst Spenser's contempo- 
raries and can be found among others in Lynche, Diella, 18. 

Prescott, Spenser's Poetry, 623-24 has recently identified two reworkings of 
epigrams by Marot: Spenser's second anacreontic verse, "As Diane hunted on a 
day," being a loose rendering of Marot's "L'Enfant Amour n'a plus son arc es- 
trange," and the third verse, "1 Saw in secret to my Dame," a translation of Marot's 
"Amour trouua celle qui m'est amere." In the fourth series of anacreontic verses 
Hutton 106-31 identifies three strains: the first two stanzas are a rendering of 
Tasso's madrigal, "Mentre in grembo," the second two draw upon the classical 
models of Theocritus and Anacreon, while the final two stanzas are Spenser's own 
invention, although they share the conceit of Cupid's being cured with the conclu- 
sion to Watson's Hecatompathia, 53. 

The following are the two classical models: 
Theocritus. Idyll 19. 

Tdv KX,^;tTav n6T"Ep(oza KOKd K^vTaae [ifkicsaa 
KTip(ov tK oCuPXwv ouXeOjievov, &Kpa bt xeipwv 
SdKTuXa TidvG ' OnSvu^ev. 6 b'&Xyze Kai x^P'^^^^^. 
Kttt Tdv ydp ^TtdTtt^E Kttl dX,aTO, xq. 6' 'A(t>po6fT(jt 
8ei46 te xdv 68uvav Kal \xt\i^exo, 6xxi ye tut96v 
Gripfov iaxi ii^Xiqqa Kat dX.(Ka xpaOnata tioiei. 


Commentax':) 227 

Xd ndrnp ysXdaaaa- t( 6' ; ouk laoc, tooi neXfaaaiq 
(be, tutGov ^^v lr|q, td hi ipaujiaxa dX(Ka noiEiq; 
(Love the thief was once stung by a wicked bee, as he filched a honeycomb from the 
hive, and all his finger-tips were pricked. It hurt, and he blew on his hand, stamped 
the earth, and skipped about; and he showed his hurt to Aphrodite, complaining 
that the bee is but a tiny creature, but it causes such wounds. And his mother 
laughed: "What! are you not like the bees, you who are also little, but cause such 
great wounds?" [Hutton, 1091) 
AnacTcon. 35. 

"Epax; Ttoi'^v f>65oic;i 

OUK efSev, dXX*^Tpc69r|- 
xdv 6dKTuXov TtaxaxOEiq 
xdg xzv^oc, coA.6Xu^E. 
5pa|ic5v 6^ Ktti TtexaaGei^ 
Tipoq xfjv KaXi^v KoGfipTiv 
'dXcoXa, (ifixep, 'e{7I8v, 
'fiXcoXa Kd7ioGvf|aKco- 
6(|)iq |i' Sxuv|/E |iiKpd^ 
nxEptoxdc;, 6v KaXoOoiv 
^i^Xixxav ol YEtopyoi'.' 
d S'eIttev *£{ x6 K^vxpov 
TtovEi x6 xdq nEXfxxaq, 
n6aov SoKEiq TtovoOaiv, 
'Epcoq, 6aou<; aO PdXXEiq; ' 
(Love once failed to notice a bee that was sleeping among the roses, and he was 
wounded: he was struck in the finger, and he howled. He ran and flew to beautiful 
Cythere and said, "1 have been killed, mother, killed. I am dying. I was struck by 
the small winged snake that farmers call 'the bee.' " She replied, "If the bee-sting 
is painful, what pain. Love, do you suppose all your victims suffer?" (Loeb Classics, 
trans. David Campbell, 107-9]) 

1-82. The verses comprise 9 starizas (of which 1-2 are awarded one page and the 
subsequent 7 a single page), 3 rhyme schemes (1, 2-3, 4-9), and 4 metrical 
patterns (1, 2, 3, & 4-9). All end with a tetrameter couplet. Only lines 1-2 

strictly observe the short hemiambics of the Anacreontea: * — ^ — "^ . 

1-6. The stanza develops the KripiOKX^TtxTiq invention with a series of bawdy puns 
and imitates the associated honey-stealing of Claudian's Fescinnina, 4.7-8, "non 
quisquam . . . / Hyblaeos latebris nee spoliat favos," to which Whitney alludes 
in his emblem, ''Post amara dulcia" (165). The topos was frequent even among 
English sonneteers, e.g., Barnes, Parthenophil and Parthenophe, Ode, 16.39-52, 
and Bamfield, Cynthia, 8.6-11, "Ah foolish Bees (thinke 1) that doe not sucke 
/ His lips for hony . . . Kisse him, but sting him not, for if you doe, / His angry 
voice your flying will pursue." 

1. waxed: 1. grew; but 2. clearly the word has been chosen for its association with 

wax and honey. 

2. Venus baby: Cupid. 

3. cunning: 1. deceitful art; 2. as a bawdy pun (from cunnus = female pudenda), 

knowledge of the sexual type. 

228 Commentary 

7-14. Compare Marot, "L'Enfant Amour n'a plus son arc estrange," Oeuvres, 

L'Enfant Amour n'a plus son arc estrange, 

Dont il blessoit d'hommes & cueurs & testes: 

Auec celuy de Diane a faict change 

Dont elle alloit aux champs faire les questes. 

Ilz ont change, n'enfaictes plus d'enquestes; 

Et si on diet: a quoy le congnois tu? 

le voy qu'Amour chasse souuent aux bestes, 

Et qu'elle attainct les hommes de vertu. 
15-22. A translation of Marot, "Amour trouua celle qui m'est amere," Oeuvres, 

Amour trouua celle qui m'est amere, 

Et ie y estoys, i'en s^ay bien mieulx le compte: 

"Bon iour (dict-il), bon iour Venus ma mere." 

Puis tout a coup il veoit qu'il se mescompte, 

Dont la couleur au visage lui monte 

D'auoir failly: honteux, Dieu s^ait combien: 

"Non, non. Amour (ce dis ie) n'ayez honte; 

Plus cler voyantz que vous f y trompent bien." 
23-42. A rendering of Tasso's madrigal, "Mentre in grembo," Rime, 2.341, 

Mentre in grembo a la madre Amore un giomo 

Dolcemente dormiva, 

Una zanzara zufolava intomo 

Per quella dolce riva, 

Disse allor, desto a quel susurro, Amore: 

Da si picciola forma 

Gam' esce si gran voce e tal rumore 

Che sveglia ognun che dorma? 

Con maniere vezzose 

Lusingandogli il sonno col suo canto 

Venere gli rispose: 

E tu picciolo sei. 

Ma pur gli uomini in terra col tuo pianto 

E 'n ciel desti gli Dei. 

Spenser imitates both Tasso's opening lines and their rhythm, although he 
changes Tasso's gnat into a bee. 
25. trumpet: used elsewhere by Spenser also of the gnat, see FQ II. ix. 16.3. 

32. corage: 1. bravery; 2. lust. 

33, closely: secretly or inwardly. 

51-52. The fly that I so much did scome, I hath hurt me with his little home: An echo 
of Cupid's exclamation in Anacreon, "6(l)iq fiiKpdg FlTepcoTdq" (= little 
winged serpent). 

horn: assists the poem's bawdy associations. 

54. of his griefe complayned: Cupid's complaining of his grief is specifically mentioned 
only by Theocritus, see 19.5, "xdv 65uvav Kai (i^|i(j)eTO." 

55. could not chose but laugh: Venus laughing is not contained in Anacreon and is a 
feature of Theocritus, 19.8, "x<2c nAxrip yeXdaaaa" Hutton 123, however, 
indicates that Spenser's continental antecedents generally imitate the detail: "in 


Commentary 229 

Ronsard Venus smiles ('se sourit'), in Baif she begins to laugh ('se prenant a 
57-58. Think now . . . dost wound: Such an admonition concludes the poems of both 
Anacreon and Theocritus, although Spenser's is closer to that of Anacreon, 
35.13-16, "d 5'Ei7tev- 'ei to K^vrpov / Tiovei id xaq ^eXixxaq, I 7i6aov 
6oK8i(; TtovoOaiv, / "Epcoc;, Saouc; aO pdtXXEK;; '"; see Theocritus, 19.7-8, 
"tC 6'; ouK laoq iaai ^sWaoaiq / <hc, tutGov \xt\ Iriq, id 5^ Tpauiiata 
d>.CKa TToieic;;." 
59. pricked: 1. wounded; but 2. prick also retains suggestive overtones. 
63-82. The theme of the last two stanzas, the cure of Cupid, is an elaboration not 
found in the two classical antecedents. The closest model to Spenser could have 
been Watson's Hecatompathia, 53, whose conclusion. Love's cure by Aesculapi- 
us, is Watson's own invention. Like Spenser, Watson concludes his working of 
the topos by applying it to the self, the gradual disclosure of identity also being 
a feature of Claudian's concluding Fescennina. Watson shows his awareness of a 
number of translations of Theocritus' idyll in his argument prefixed to his 
versions, "Tlie two first partes of this Sonnet, are an imitation of certaine 
Greeke verses of Theocritus; which verses as they are translated by many good 
Poets of later dayes, so moste aptlye and plainely by C. Vrcinus Velius in his 

Where tender Loue had laide him downe to sleepe, 

A little Bee so stong his fingers end. 

That burning ache enforced him to weepe 

And call for Phebus Sonne to stand his frend, 

To whome he cride, I muse so small a thing 

Can pricke thus deepe with suche a little Sting. 

Why so, sweet Boy, quoth Venus sitting by? 

Thy selfe is yong, thy arrowes are but small 

And yet thy shotte makes hardest harts to cry: 

To Phebus Sunne she turned therewithall. 

And prayde him shew his skill to cure the sore. 

Whose like her Boy had neuer felt before. 

Then he with Herbes recured soone the wound, 

Which being done, he threw the Herbes away, 

Whose force, through touching Loue, in selfe same ground, 

By haplesse hap did breede my hartes decay: 

For there they fell, where long my hart had li'ne 

To waite for Loue, and what he should assigne. 
64. smock: a female undergarment, but suggestive also of immorality (OED 3b). 
68-70. salue ofsoueraigne might: I And then she bath'd him in a dainty well I the well of 
deare delight: The cure of Aesculapius ("Phoebus sunne") in Watson's Hecatom- 
pathia is obtained through the application of herbs. TTie customary herb against 
the bee-sting was thyme, see Hill 61, "And the hearb healeth the sting of the 
Bee, if the same be laid vpon it." In FQ I.xi.48. 1-3 a sovereign balm flows 
from the first tree as from a well to cure the knight: "From that first tree forth 
flowd, as from a well, / A trickling streame of Balme, most soueraine / And 
daintie deare." Here the analogy is devoid of any Christian perspective and 
explicitly suggestive. 

well: 1. literally, a spring; 2. bawdily, the female sexual organ. 

230 Commentary 

73. boy . . . wel recured: See lines 63-82 note, Watson, Hecatompathia, 53.12-13, 

"Boy . . . recured soone the wound." 
81. languish: A frequent complaint in the preceding amoretti, see Am. 50.1 & 10, 

36.3, 52.8 & 60.11. 


1. Ye learned sisters: In imitation of Ovid's "doctas sorores" (Met. 5.255; Golding 

(5.294) "the learned sisters nine"; see Fasti, 6.811). The invocation was a 
conventional opening, see Am. 1.1 0's reference to Helicon, where the Muses 
dwelt. Catullus likewise opens his epithalamial verses. Carmen 61, "CoUis o 
Heliconii / cultor" (O inhabitant of Mount Helicon), as does Statius, Epitha- 
lamion in Stellam et Violentillam, 3-5, "procul ecce canoro / demigrant Helicone 
deae quatiuntque novena / lampade solemnem thalamis coeuntibus ignem" 
(Behold, far away the goddesses descend from Helicon and brandish with 
ninefold torch the fire that hallows the wedding bed). (See Buttet, Epithalame 
Aux Nosses de Philibert de Savoie, 61-62, "Les neuf Muses, ses seurs, toutes a sa 
naissance, / Laissant leur mont Olympe.") The invocation was frequent from 
Homer onwards. Although originally three in number, by the time of Hesiod 
they were nine {Theogony, 77ff.), and Spenser invokes all nine in TTvI 1, "ye 
sacred Sisters nine." 

2. others to adome: See the dedications to FQ (e.g., Ded. Son. xvi.8, "adome these 

verses base") and Spenser's common use of the phrase in FQ lV.ii.34. 8, where 
Cambridge is " adorn 'd . . . with many a gentle Muse." 

3. gracefull: conferring honor or grace. 

rymes: verses. 

7-11. when ye list your owne mishaps to moume: The lament, given its similarities 
with the lament of the Muses in TM, probably refers to that poem (see Grosart 
1.189; Welsford 173). The Muses who sit beside the "Springs of Helicone" are 
asked to recount their lamentations upon the decayed state of the arts and 
neglect of learning, for since the death of Phaeton, "Of you his moumfull 
Sisters was lamented, / Such moumfull tunes were neuer since inuented" (11- 
12). Epith.'s introduction is thus a Spenserian contaminatio, because such lamen- 
tation properly belongs to Phaeton's sisters, the Heliades (see Ovid, Met. 2.333- 
66), and not to the Muses. 

10-11. teach the woods and waters to lament I Your dolefull dreriment: A pastoral 
convention, deriving from Vergil, Eclogues, 1 .4-5, "Tu Tityre . . . resonare doces 
Amaryllida silvas," and found also in SC June, 95-96 & FQ IV.xi.41.9. 

10. woods and waters: See TM 21 & 25, "th* hollow hills ... The trembling 

12. sorrowfull complaints: a Spenserian pleonasm. 

complaints: Possibly a reference to The Teares of the Muses and other poems 
which were published in 1591 under the title, "Complaints. Containing sundrie 
small Poemes of the Worlds Vanitie." Such complaints were a medieval tradition 
and Spenser is fond of incorporating them in FQ, e.g., the "piteous plaintes" at 
IV,xii.6-8. The solitary Cuddie similarly complains in SC Aug., 151-52. 

15. enuide: envied. 


Commentary 23 1 

16. Orpheus: Both Vergil {Georgics, 4.453-527) and Ovid (Met 10.1-147) recount 
the story of Orpheus, whose wife Eurydice, having been killed by a snake-bite, 
was won from Hades by Orpheus' music. Ovid begins with Orpheus inviting 
Hymen to his wedding, though in vain ("nequiquam"). It is the Vergilian 
account, however, that includes the detail that Orpheus sang to himself a 
lament upon his wife's absence — at the rising, and the declining, of the day, 
"ipse cava solans aegrum testudine amorem / te, dulcis coniunx, te solo in litore 
secum, / te veniente die, te decedente canebat" (he [Orpheus], seeking to soothe 
his sorrowful love with his hollow shell, sang of you, his sweet wife, to himself 
alone on the shore, as day arose and day declined; Claudian opens his Epistula 
ad Serenam with Orpheus' wedding, "Orphea cum primae sociarent numina 
taedae / ruraque compleret Thracia festus Hymen" [When Orpheus' marriage- 
torch was first kindled and festive Hymen filled the Thracian countryside]). 
Loewenstein 291 points to the extensive influence of Vergilian (and Orphean) 
paradigms on the construction of Epithalamion. 

18. The woods shall to me answer and my Eccho ring: A refrain conflating classical 
epithalamial and pastoral conventions: Claudian concludes his Praefatio to Epith. 
Honorii with a similar cry, "frondoso strepuit felix Hymenaeus Olympo; / 
reginam resonant Othrys et Ossa Thetim" (the happy cry of Hymen rings o'er 
leafy Olympus and Othrys and Ossa resound with the name queen TTietis); see 
his Epith. Palladio, 23-25, "Celerina per omnes / Italiae canitur montes omnis- 
que maritum / Palladium resonabat ager" (the name Celerina is sung through all 
the hills of Italy and every field resounds with that of her husband Palladius). 
Compare also Ps. 96.12, "Let the fielde be ioyfuU, and all that is in it: then 
shall all the trees of the wood reioyce before the Lord," a verse closer to Epith. 's 
second refrain (35-36). 

Spenser elsewhere constantly uses the pastoral tenor of the refrain, echoing 
Vergil, Eclogues, 10.8, which sings of an absent mistress, "non canimus surdis, 
respondent omnia silvae" (we sing not to deaf ears; the woods echo every [note]) 
- see SC June, 52; TM 19-22; FQ I.iii.8.2;; l.viii.11.9; ll.iii.20.8-9; 
VLviii.46.1-4; Vl.x.10.5; Vl.xi.26.6;; Proth 112-13. 

The refrain in differing forms concludes the first twenty-three stanzas of 
Epith. , each form appropriately shaped to respond to the lines that immediately 
precede it and to mark the progress of the marriage-day. TTie form here, given 
the poet's solitude, incorporates the only use in the series of the personal pro- 
noun me. Later, once night has descended and outside voices are no longer re- 
quired, the refrain is couched in the negative. The woods no more shal answere, 
nor your echo ring (314). After the couple are conjoined, the plural of the first 
person pronoun is used, Ne let the woods vs answere, nor our Eccho ring (389). 

Eccho: Mirroring the complaint of Narcissus, Ovid, Met. 3.507, "planxe- 
runt dryades: plangentibus adsonat Echo" (Golding 3.632-33, "The Wood 
nymphes also did lament. And Echo did rebound / To euery sorrowfull noyse of 
theirs with like lamenting sound"). 

19-20. Early before the worlds light giuing lampe, I His golden beame vpon the hils doth 
spred: Statius opens Epith. in Stella with Phoebus distributing garlands, "Phoebus 
. . . serta ferunt" (17-19). 

22. ye: technically an instruction to the sisters, but calling upon maidens to awaken 
the bride is a feature of classical epithalamia, see Catullus, Carmen 61.36-40, 
"vosque item simul, integrae / virgines, quibus advenit / par dies, agite in 

232 Commentary 

modum / dicite "o Hymenaee Hymen, / o Hymen Hymenaee." (you also, at the 
same time, unwedded maidens, for whom a similar day approaches, go and in 
like measure say, "O Hymenaeus Hymen, O Hymen Hymenaeus")." 

fresh lusty hed: (= lustihead); 1. refreshed vigor after sleep, without carnal 
associations; 2. lustfulness (see FQ II.i.41.7). 
23-25. Go to the howre of my beloued loue, I M31 truest turtle doue, I Bid her awake: 
strongly reminiscent of the spouse's words in the Song of Solomon, "My 

welbeloued spake and said vnto me. Arise, my loue, my faire one The 

flowers appeare in the earth . . . the voice of the turtle is heard in our land" 
(2.7-12 passim) and "I slepe, but mine heart waketh, it is the voyce of my 
welbeloued that knocketh, saying, Open vnto me, my sister, my loue, my 
dooue" (5.2). The turtle dove, from biblical times, signified marital fidelity. The 
solitariness of the poet, who like a dove lamented the absence of his mate in 
Am. 89, is about to be overcome. 

26. maske to moue: a retinue of masked persons, accompanied by torch-bearers, 
musicians and dancers and lead by a presenter. Hymen frequently figures as a 
presenter of wedding masques in Renaissance epithalamia. 

27. Taed: {taeda = wedding torch); associated with Hymen and a feature of epithala- 
mia, see Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 229, "taedasque parari" (the torches are being 
prepared), and Catullus, Carmen 61.14-15, addressing Hymen, "manu / Pineam 
quate taedam" (shake the pine torch with your hand). 

flake: 1. a fragment of ignited matter thrown off a burning object; 2. since 
the etymon of flake is cognate with the Old Norse floke, a lock of hair, an exact 
translation of the metaphor of hair ("comas") used later by Catullus of the taed, 
Carmen 61.77-78, "viden ut faces splendidas quatiunt comas?" (Spenser pleo- 
nastically uses the etymology during the nuptials of the Red Cross Knight and 
Una, FQ I.xii.37.6, "At which the bushy Teade a groome did light," and 
I.xi.26.4, "A flake of fire, that flashing in his beard.") 

29. fresh garments trim: The noun between two adjectives imitates classical construc- 

31. the u/ished day is come: See FQ II.iv.22.1. The expression was classical, see 
Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 45, "Optatusne dies aderit?" (will the wished day ever 
come?), and Catullus, Carmen 64.31-32, "Quis simul optatae finito tempore 
luces / Advenere" (once that wished day in time fulfilled had come; see Claud- 
ian, Epistula ad Serenam, 51). 

33. vsury: interest rather than usury, as in Una's pledge to Arthur {FQ I.viii. 27.89- 
9), "Behold what ye this day haue done for mee / And what 1 cannot quite, 
requite with vsuree." Interest is a minor feature of classical epithalamia, see 
Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 37-38, ". . . cui Mariam debes. faenus mihi solve 
patemum" ("you do owe Maria to me. Pay back to me the interest due to the 
father"). The thought is repeated at 317-18 where the poet prays that his labors 
and cares be sumd in one, and cancelled for aye. 

36-39. That all the woods may answer and your eccho ring. I Bring with you all the 
Nympes that you can heare I Both of the riuers and the forrests greene: I And of the 
sea: Nymphs inhabit, inter alia, all epithalamia, both classical and Renaissance. 
See Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 159 &. 171, Fescennina, 12-1^, arid Epith. Palladia, 
7 &. 17; Statius, Epith. Sullam, 115-16; Catullus, Carmen 61.29-30, "Nympha 
quos super irrigat / firigerans Aganippe," adopted in detail by Buttet, Epithalame, 
91-98; Belleau, Epithalame du Due de Lorraine, 9-16. Spenser identifies here the 

Commentary 233 

nymphs of the rivers, the Naiades, of the forests, the Dryades (from the oak, 
their favorite tree — see Am. 6.5 note), and the sea, the Nereides. 

The connection between the nymphs and Epith.'s second refrain had 
already been established in FQ VI.x. 10.4-5, where the dancing feet of the 
nymphs and graces are heard to beat the ground: "And many feete fast thump- 
ing th' hollow ground, / That through the woods their Eccho did rebound" (see 
Catullus, Carmen 61.12-15). Since the primary Greek sense of nymph was a 
bride or a marriageable maiden (see E. K.'s note, SC April, 120, "For the word 
Nymphe in Greeke signifieth ... a Spouse or Bryde"), Nymphes was an appropri- 
ate term to include in an epithalamium. 
37. al the Nymphes that you can heare: you is the object of heare. 

39. the sea that neighbours to her neare: possibly a reference to the sea near Yougal. 
TTie house of Elizabeth Boyle's brother-in-law, Sir Richard Smith, stood on the 
estuary where the river Blackwater, of which the Awbeg (the MuUa [see 156 
note]) was a tributary, flowed into the sea. Welsford 175 suggests that Elizabeth 
Boyle was married from the house. 

40. gay girlands: a favorite Spenserian phrase; gay girlands goodly, reflects the frequent 
rhetorical repetition in Catullus, Carmen 61.19, "bona cum bona," and 44, 
"bonae Veneris, boni." In most classical and neo-Latin epithalamies the bride 
is bedecked with garlands of flowers; Spenser is closest to Statius, Epith. in Stella, 
23, "tu modo fironte rosas, violis modo lilia mixta excipis ..." (now roses, now 
lilies mixed with violets, do you receive upon your brow). 

44. blew: In Proth 30, the violet is identified as "pallid blew"; see Catullus, Carmen 
61.6-7 and 64.282-83. The ribarui (ribbon) binding the flowers comprises a knot 
symbolizing the spouses' wedding vows (see Am. 6.14). 

45-47. And let them make great store of bridale poses, I And let them eeke bring store of 
other flowers I To deck the bridale bowers: A further feature of classical (and neo- 
Latin) epithalamia was the decking of the bridal chamber with flowers, specifi- 
cally roses and violets; great store imitates Claudian's "calathos largos" (Epith. 
Palladio, 116-19), 

Ut thalami tetigere fores, turn vere rubentes 
desuper invertunt calathos largosque rosarum 
imbres et violas plenis sparsere pharetris 
collectas Veneris prato ... 
(As they reached the doors of the bridal bower, they empty great baskets full of 
red flowers, pouring forth showers of roses and scattering from their full quivers 
violets gathered in Venus' meadow . . .). 

48-49. And let the ground whereas her foot shall tread, I For feare the storxes her tender 
foot should wrong: A possible echo of Ps. 91,12, where the angels "shall heare 
thee in their handes: that thou hurt not thy foote against a stone." But compare 
the detail, and marital context, of the verse's parallel, Deut. 28.56, "The tender 
and deintie woman among you, which neuer wolde venture to set the sole of her 
fote vpon the grounde (for her softnes and tendemes) shalbe grieued at her 
housband. ..." 

5 1 . diapred lyke the discolored mead: diapred, with the ground adorned with a fretwork 
pattern; diapred derives from 6id + &OKpoq = white - like lillyes (43) - inter- 
woven with another color; discolored retains its older sense of variously colored, 
particolored, rather than uncolored or pale. 

54. song: probably the song mentioned at line 35. 

234 Commentary 

56. Ye Nympes of Mulla: Invoking local nymphs was a well-established convention 
both in classical and continental epithalamia, see Buttet, Epithalame, 167 &. 
172, who invokes the nymphs of both the Seine and the Mame, while Belleau, 
Epithalame, 4, invokes those of the Seine. The Mulla is Spenser's name for the 
river Awbeg which flowed through his estate at Kilcolman and thence into the 
Blackwater (in Spenser's day the Broadwater). The name derived from Kilne- 
muUah, the older name for the district now Buttevant. Spenser evidently also 
has in mind the Latin mullus — a fish of the mullet family. 
carefull heed: another pleonasm. 

57-58. trouts . . . pikes: Details provided by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable 
fisherman (see Am. 47). There are evidently good trout and pike in the river still 
(see Variorum, Minor Poems, 2.464). 

60. rushy lake: Renwick 205 observes that, "T/ie rushy lake is a stone 's-throw from 
Kilcolman tower, which stands on the northern rim of a saucer of land draining 
northward into it." 

62. Bynd vp the locks the which hang scatterd light: See the instruction, SC April, 133, 
Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 122 ("crines festina ligat"), and Belleau, Epithalame, 1- 

64. your faces as the christall bright: See SC June, 25-30, where the "lighfote 
Nymphes" will be kissed by Pan, "And Pan himselfe to kisse their christall 
faces." The association was standard , see Gn 898 & Am. 45.1-2. 

67. lightfoot mayds: lightfoot occurs eleven times in Spenser, on five occasions being 
applied to nymphs or fairies, beginning with the reference immediately above, 
SC June, 26.1) TTie Nereides, who are associated with both river-waters and the 
sea and who from classical times were described as light (see Horace, Odes, 
1.1.29, "Nympharum leves . . . chori"); Cymothoe (= light on the waters, from 
KO|j.a = billows on the river-waters + Q6r\ = light or swift), is listed among 
them at FQ Vl.xi.49.4 (see TM 31, "The ioyous Nymphes and lightfoote 
Faeries"); 2. the nymphs of Diana, which are seen as inhabiting the Arlo, 
identified in FQ, as the hill on which the Mulla (Awbeg) rises. 

deere: 1595 and F12 all have dore, which, if only for reasons of rhyme, 
should be amended to deere. The Old English deor and Middle English dere or 
deere were used to signify any kind of wild four-legged animal as well as deer. 
67-70. Apart from the lines' topical references, wolves being common in Ireland 
until 1700, the lines illustrate Spenser's syncretic wit. The nymphs of the 
mountains were the Nun<t»ai dpzaxidbeq or 6ped58<;, from 6pziv6q = 
mountain. But 6pEiv6<; was also used of wild wolves (see Od. 10.212). The two 
meanings of the Greek original are present, as the mountain nymphs (the agents 
of Diana, the nympha nympharum and protector of women as well as wild 
animals especially deer) are called upon to keep the wild wolves far from the 

68. towre: probably 1. stand aloft or outlined against the sky (see FQ Il.xii.30.5); 
rather than 2. the falconry term, soar or perch aloft (see FQ VI. x. 6. 8-9), 
because deere did not ordinarily include birds. 

70. Steele darts: the weapons of Diana were customarily silver. 

74. Wake, now my loue, awake: Compare the instruction of Song of Sol. 2.7 (3.5 & 

8.4), "nor waken my loue." 
75-76. The Rosy Mome long since left Tithones bed, I All ready to her siluer cache to 

clyme: A standard expression originating with the Homeric epithet, 

Commentary 235 

^o5o5dKTOX.O(; 'Hcoq = rosy-fingered dawn, see II. 21.1 &. Od. 2.1. The de- 
scription finds a place in Vergil, whose details Spenser has conflated, Aen. 
4.585, "Et iam prima novo spargebit lumine terras / Tithoni croceum linquens 
Aurora cubile" (And already early Dawn, leaving Tithonus' golden bed, spreads 
the earth with new light), and 7.26, where the detail of her coach is included, 
"et aethere ab alto / Aurora in roseis fulgebat lutea bigis" (firom the high heaven 
rose-colored Morning shone in her rosy coach). See Statius, Epith. Stellam, 44- 
45, "nee si alma per auras / te potius prensum aveheret Tithonia biga" (unless 
Dawn had rather seized you and in Tithonus' coach carried you through the air). 

75. Tithones: consort of Aurora, who was granted immortality but not eternal youth. 

76. siluer coche: traditionally her coach was golden, but then Diana's darts (69) were 
customarily siluer. Spenser generally uses siluer in FQ to connote purity (see 
VI.vii.19.8, "siluer slomber"). 

77. Phoebus: an epithet of Apollo (from (j)OiPoq= bright). Phoebus Apollo is the 
sun-god as well as leader of the Muses. 

78-84. This small aubade conflates the traditional epithalamial dawn-song to awake 
the bride with a choric list of birds in the marmer of a common medieval poetic 
convention, e.g., Romance of the Rose, passim, and Chaucer, Pari. Foules, 330- 
65, as well as the intricate medieval Bird Masses. 

80. Larke: Although the lark is the messenger of dawn, it is not commonly found in 
the English aube, despite Chaucer's inclusion, K. T. 1491, "The bisy larke, 
messager of day." 

mattins: (from matutinas = of the morning); the first of the canonical hours 
(earlier performed at midnight but occasionally at daybreak) and used by the 
Church of England since the reformation for morning prayer, which combines 
elements from both matins and lauds (= praises [19]). 

81. Mauis: the song-thrush. 

descant: the only Spenserian usage; from des = apart and cantus = song, 
part-singing; in plainsong a counterpoint motif sung above the basic melody 
{cantus firmus). 

82. Ouzell: the blackbird. 

shrills: see Puttenham 41 on epithalamial music, "the tunes of the songs 
were very loude and shrill." 

Ruddock: the robin redbreast. 

83. consent: confused in significance and spelling with concent (see FQ ni.xii.5.7, 
"A lay of loues delight, with sweet concent," where 1596 has "consent"); so 
here both 1. consent = agreement or approval; and 2. concent {con = together 
+ cantus = song) = a concord of voices singing together. 

85-87. The lines echo the parable of the virgins who "went to mete the bride- 
grome" (Matt. 25.1-13). Awaiting his coming, they "slombred and slept," but 
were aroused by the cry, "Beholde, the bridegrome cometh: go out to mete 
him" (v. 6). 

87. T' awayt: used often by Spenser to mean 'to keep watch for' (see FQ l.xi.52.4), 
and in imitation of Matt. 25.13 above, "Watche therefore: for ye knowe nether 
the day, nor the houre, when the Sonne of man wil come." 

87. make: archaic form of mate — see Am. 70.11. 

90. ioy and pleasance: recalling Euterpe (£u = goodly + T^pv|/i(; = joy or pleasance), 
the muse of lyric poetry and inventor of the double flute, whom Spenser 
associates with choirs of birds in TM 235-46 (see Am. 89.1 note). 

236 Commentary 

95. Hesperus: Hesperus, both the morning star and evening star, is an appropriate 
epithalamial feature; see Catullus, Carmen 62.33, and Claudian, who mentions 
Hesperus in connection with choruses now sung, "Septima lux . . . viderat exac- 
tos Hesperus igne choros" {Praef. to Epith. Honorii, 15-16 [seven times Hesperus 
had relit his lamp and seen the choirs complete their song]). In Rev. 22.16 the 
morning star is identified with Christ the bridegroom, "I lesus . . . am . . . the 
bright morning starre" (see 2.28). Spenser had already combined the two sources 
to describe the preparation of Una for her betrothal feast {FQ l.xii.21.4-7). 

96. daughters of delight: Identified as the Graces at FQ VI. x. 15.1. Traditionally the 
Graces are the handmaids of Venus — see Natalis Comes 4. 16. 130a. 48, where 
they represent delight — hilaritas and laetitia {ioy and pkasance, see line 90). 

98-102. The Greek 'Qpa (Latin, Hora) are the goddesses of the seasons and repre- 
sent periods governed by natural laws and revolutions. Tliey are primarily 
personifications of natural laws and astronomical features, and hence causal 
powers who regulate, allot, the seasons and cause the change from night to day 
and even from birth to death {Doe make and still repayre). According to Hesiod 
{Theogony, 901-06) the hours are the daughters of Jove and Spenser accepts this 
parentage in FQ VII.vii.45. 1-2, "Then came the Howres, faire daughters of high 
loue, I And timely Night.'' Here the lines suggest that Spenser has identified 
Jupiter and Day, thus making the hours the daughters of Day and Night. In 
Homer, Hymn 6, 1-13, they are described as xP^cr<i^^UK8(; (having golden 
fillets in their hair). 

Here the hours are also presented as the divisions between day and night 
and are identified by Spenser with the sidereal hours of the Ptolemaic system. 
See Hieatt 31-59 for his reconstruction of Epith. according to the sidereal hours 
and its kinship with the Mutabilitie Cantos. 

99. In loues sweet paradice: Spenser may be recalling Plato, Symposium, 203B, where 
Eros, the son of Poros (resource) and Penia (poverty), is conceived on Aphro- 
dite's birthday in Jove's garden {eiq x6v toO Aide; KfiTrov). 

103. ye three handmayds of the Cyprian Queene: The three graces who attend Venus 
are Aglia, Euphrosyne, Tlialia — often associated with the muses and hours. TTie 
specific function of Aglia (dyA.afa = adornment) is reflected in the following 
two lines, to adome I addome the bride (see Am. 74.14 note). The graces were 
commonly present in epithalamia, e.g., Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 100-5 & 202- 
3, where they choose flowers for the feast, "tu. Gratia, flores / elige" (See Epith. 
Palladia, 9). 

Cyprian: see FQ II.xii.65.3, "Cyprian goddesse." 

1 10-13. virgins: See Catullus, Carmen 61.36-37, where virgins are called to visit the 
home with Hymen as he adorns the bride, "vosque item simul, integrae / 
virgines, quibus advenit / par dies, agite in modum" (you un wedded virgins, for 
whom a similar day is coming, come with me). 

115. so ioyfull day, I The ioyfulst day: In direct imitation of Catullus, Carmen 61.11, 
"excitusque hilari die" (wakening on this ioyfull day; see Buttet, Epithalame, 7, 
"Ce jour fait solemnel soit k la France cher"), and echoing Ps. 1 18.24, "This is 
the day which the Lord hath made: we will reioyce and be glad in it" (see Am. 
68.5, for Easter Sunday, "This ioyous day"). An example of the rhetorical 
device, place. 

117-18. Faire Sun, shew forth thy fauourable ray, I And let they lifull heat not feruent be: 
Spenser, when recounting the conception of Belphoebe and Amoret makes 


Commentary 237 

allusion to the the sun's Ufe-giving powers in "antique bookes" and acclaims the 
sun, "Great father he of generation / Is rightly cald, th' author of life and light" 
{FQ; see Natalis Comes 4.10.114a.l5, "Hie [the sunl est genera- 
tionis et corruptionis unicus auctor" (the sun is the sole author of generation 
and corruption). 

11 9-20. For feare of burning her sunshyny face, I Her beauty to disgrace: 1 . disfigure; 2. 
dishonor, shame — a probable small joke, because 'to be under a cloud' in 
Spenser's time already meant 'to be in disgrace.' 

121. O fayrest Phoebus, father of the Muse: Normally the Muses are the daughters of 
Jove (see Hesiod, Theogony, 77); but Spenser elsewhere makes Apollo their 
father (see TM 2; FQ I.xi.5.6 & lll.iii.4.2). He probably accepted the idea from 
Natalis Comes 4. 10. 110a. 13-15, "Fuerunt ... Musae in ejus tutela creditae 
quarum et dux et pater Apollo fuit existimatus" (the Muses were thought to fall 
under the protection of Apollo, who was considered their leader and father). 

124. simple: 1. single; 2. straightforward. 

boone: prayer (to Apollo the sun-god for a fine — but temperate — day for 
his marriage, as recompense for past services done in his name as father of the 

125. let this day let this one day: a rhetorical place. The prayer is reminiscent of the 
shape of the BCP's Collects (see 10th Sunday after Trinity, "Let thy merciful 
eares, O Lorde, be open to the prayers of thy humble seruants . . ."). 

129-37. Harke how the Minstrels . . . But most of all the Damzels . . . when they their 
tymbreb smyte . . . Crying aloud with strong confused noyce: The details imitate 
exactly the procession in Ps. 68.25, "TTie singers go before, the minstrels folowe 
after: in the midest are the damosels playing with the timbrels." (Compare 1 
Mace. 9.39, "and beholde, there was a great noyce, and muche preparation: 
then the bridegrome came forthe, and his friends and his brethren met them 
with tymbrels.") Timbrels are a feature of classical epithalamia, e.g., Catullus, 
Carmen 63.7-8, "cepit manibus leve typanum, typanum, tubam Cybelles . . . , 
quatiensque terga tauri teneris cava digitis / canere ..." (she took the light 
timbrel, timbrel, trumpet of Cybele . . . and beating with soft fingers the hollow 
oxhide she sang . . . ; see Carmen 63.29 & Carmen 64.261-64, with its hymeneal 
procession including timbrels ("tympana"!, horns, ("comua"! and pipe ("tibia"]). 

131. pipe: a feature of Catullus, Carmen 63, where it is linked with the timbrel, "ubi 
tympana reboant, / tibicen ubi canit Phryx curvo grave calamo" (21-22; where 
the voice of the cymbals sounds, where timbrels resound, where the Phrygian 
piper sounds a deep note on his curved pipe). 

tabor: an early name for the drum, in the sixteenth century generally a 
small drum used principally to accompany a pipe or trumpet. 

trembling Croud: an ancient Celtic instrument of six strings, of which four 
were played with the bow and two by plucking with the fingers. Sidney, ApoU 
ogie, F4^, comments that his heart was moved by it, even though it was a rough 
instrument, "and yet is it sung but by some blinde Crouder, with no rougher 
voyce, then rude stile." 

trembling: 1. the strings of the Croud vibrate to produce sound; 2. the 
tremulous sound of voices and music. 

132. That well agree: pipe, drum and fiddle used in consort are an instance of 
Spenser's incorporating folkloristic and local detail into his epithalamium — a 
feature also of Buttet's Epithalame, 225-33. 


238 Commentary 

136. all the sences they doe rauish quite: See FQ I.i.45.5 & VI. x. 30. 7. 
137-40. The whyles the boyes run vp and doume the street, I Crying aloud mth strong 
confused noyce, I As if it were one voyce. I Hyvnen io Hymen, Hymen they do shout: 
Spenser has here drawn on Homer's description of the epithalamial procession 
of maidens and boys through the streets (dvd daxu), singing hymeneal chants 
and accompanied by both pipe and cither ((t)op}J.i7ySc;), which he has converted 
to Croud, II. 18.491-96, 

^v XT] \xtv ^a ydiioi t' taav EiA,aivai xe, 
vufi<j)a(; 5'ek 9aA,d|xcov 5at5(ov u7to Xa^no\xevd(iiv 
fiyiveov dvd daxu, TioXOg 5'u|x^vaiog 6pc6pEi, 
KoOpoi 5' 6pxr\c!tr\pec, ^5iveov, g 5' dpa xoiaiv 
aOXoi (j)op|iiYY6q xe Pof|v ^xov- ai 5^ yuvaiKeq 
iaxdfiEvai Qa\)[iaC,ov ini TtpoGCpoiaiv iK&axr\. 

(The one did nuptials celebrate, 
Observing at them solemne feasts; the Brides from foorth their bowres 
With torches vsherd through the streets, a world of Paramours 
Excited by them; youths and maides in louely circles danc't, 
To whom the merrie Pipe and Harpe their spritely sounds aduanc't, 
TTtlc matrones standing in their dores admiring. 

[Chapman, 18.445-50]) 
He has also replicated the hymeneal detail of Catullus, Carmen 61.117-23: 
tollite, o pueri, faces: 
flammeum video venire, 
ite, concinite in modum, 
"io Hymen Hymenaee io, 
io Hymen Hymenaee." 

ne diu taceat procax 
Fescennina iocatio 
(Lift up the torches, boys: 1 see the wedding veil coming. Go, sing in measure, 
"Io Hymen Hymenaeus io, io Hymen Hymenaeus." Let not the fescennine 
jesting be silent long.) 

The same hymeneal chant is sung by the graces at FQ I.i.48.6, while a like 
procession occurs at V.xi.34.1-4 

140. to; a monosyllable and the equivalent of the exclamation, 'oh.' 

143. To which the people standing all about: See lines 137-40 note. Homer, "ai 5^ 
yuvaiKEq / iaxd|i£vai 9au|ia(!^ov ^Tti npoGupoioiv tK&axr\" (II. 18.495-96; 
"the matrones standing in their dores admiring"). 

145. laud: 1. praise; 2. possibly lauds, the office following matins, sung also during 
early morning. 

148-50. Loe where she comes along with portly pace I Lyke Phoebe from her chamber of 
the East, I Arysing forth to run her mighty race: In exact imitation of Ps. 19.5, "In 
them hath he set a tabernacle for the sunne: which commeth foorth as a 
bridegrome, out of his chamber (Vulgate, ut sponsus de thalamo), and reioyceth 
as a Gyaunt to runne his course" (Geneva Version, "and reioyceth like a 
mightie man to runne his race"; the Geneva Version gives Spenser warrant to 
transfer the metaphor to the bride through its gloss to "chambre": "Or vaile. 
The maner was that the bride and bridegrome shulde stand vnder a vaile 
together, and after come forthe with great solemnitie and reioycing of the 

Commentary 239 

assemblie."). In imitating Ps. 19 Spenser is following directly the instruction of 
Puttenham who in his description of the epithalamium lays down (in Putten- 
ham's case after the wedding night), "In the morning . . . the bride must within 
few hours arise and apparrell her selfe . . . and . . . must by order come forth Sicut 
sponsa de thalamo, very demurely and stately to be sene" (42). 

Spenser, in keeping with the general principle in Epith. of identifying the 
bridegroom with the sun and the bride with the moon, converts the psalm's sun 
to moon — Phoebe. 

148. portly: dignified, stately; see Am. 13.1 note & FQ III.ii.24.6-8, where it is 
Phoebus who is portly. 

149. Phoebe: the feminine form of Phoebus and a title of Artemis, the twin sister of 
Phoebus Apollo, in her role as moon goddess. 

151. Clad all in white, that seemes a virgin best. I So well it her beseemes that ye would 
weene I Some angell she had beene: Most virgins in ¥Q are dresssed in white, e.g., 
Una's espousal garment is "all lilly white, withouten spot" (l.xii.22.7), Bel- 
phoebe wears a "Camus lylly whight" (Il.iii.26.4), while Alma "in robe of lilly 
white . . . was arayd" (ll.ix.19.1). Here Spenser has, conventionally, cor\flated 
the raiment of the bride in Revelation's Marriage of the Lamb, who is described 
as "araied with pure fyne linen and shining" (19.8) with that of the seven 
Angels who are "clothed in pure and bright linnen" (15.6). White was custom- 
arily associated with angels — at the ascension "two men stode ... in white 
apparel" (Acts 1.10), which the Geneva Bible glosses, "Which were Angels in 
mens forme." 

154. Her long loose yellow locks lyke golden wyre: See Am. 81.1, "fayre golden heares" 
(a translation of Tasso's "del bel crine / L' oro"). Many of Spenser's heroines in 
FQ (twelve occasions in all) have golden hair, including Belphoebe (ll.iii.30.1) 
and Alma (11. ix. 19.6). Both Catullus {Carmen 64.63, "non flavo retinens 
subtilem vertice mitram" [she does not keep the delicate headband on her 
golden hair]) and Claudian {Epith. Honorii, 242, "nunc flavam niveo miratur 
vertice matrem" (the snowy neck and yellow hair of the mother] and 266, "non 
crines aequant violae" [wall-flowers are no more yellow than your hair]), use the 

lyke golden wyre: the simile was used from medieval times onwards, Spenser 
using it at least six times. 

155. Sprinckled with perle, and perhng flowres a tweene: Compare Arthur's helmet, FQ 

perle . . . perling: a false polyptoton; perling, from purl = twist, meant to 
embroider or entwine with gold or silver threads, hence a tweene, a favorite 
Spenserian archaism. 

The description of the bride runs contrary to the Pauline instruction, read 
during the BCP's marriage service, 1 Tim. 2.9, "Likewise also the women, that 
thy arraye them selues in comelie apparel, with shamefastnes and modestie, not 
with broyded heare, or gold, or pearles, or costlie apparel," which the Geneva 
Bible glosses, "The worde signifieth to plat, to crispe, to broyde, to folde, to 
bush, to curie, or to lay it curiously." 
159-61 . Her modest eyes abashed to behold I So many gazers, as on her do stare, I Vpon 
the lowly ground affixed are: Modesty was enjoined upon brides (see 1 Tim. 2.9 
above) and is a repeated feature of classical epithalamia, see Statius, Epith. in 
Stellam, 11-12, "ipsa manu nuptam genetrix Aeneia duxit / lumina demissam et 

240 Commentary 

dulci probitate rubentem" (the mother of Aeneas [Venus] with her own hand 
leads forth the bride, with eyes abashed and blushing with chaste modesty); 
Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 268-69, "miscet quam iusta pudorem / temperies nimio 
nee sanguine candor abundat" (how just the mixture that comprises your mod- 
esty, your fairness not over-endowed with too much blushing; see Fescennina, 
4.3, "iam nuptae trepidat sollictus pudor" [anxious modesty now alarms the 
bride]); and Catullus, Carmen 61.79, "tardet ingenuus pudor" (noble shame 
167-79. An extended blason, with elements in common with Sonnet 15, as well as 
the lengthy portrait of Belphoebe, FQ II. iii. 22-30. The blason's emblematic 
details drew frequently from the Song of Solomon, the whole passage concluding 
with a reference to the lady's inner perfection. Elements of the blason imitate 
Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 264-70: 

qui dignior aula 

vultus erit? non labra rosae, non colla pruinae, 

non crines aequant violae, non lumina flammae. 

quam iuncti leviter sese discrimine confert 

umbra supercilii! . . . 

Aurorae vincis ditos umerosque Dianae 
(What countenance could better befit a palace? Your lips are redder than roses, 
your neck whiter than snow, your hair more golden than the wall-flower, your 
eyes brighter than fire. How well the shadow of your even brows meets upon 
your forehead . . . your fingers out-do those of Aurora, 
your shoulders out-do those of Diana.) 
167. TeU me ye merchants daughters: An example of epithalamial local coloring, the 
mercantile contrasting with the regal and noble characters who populate 
classical epithalamia. See Am. 15.1, "Ye tradefull Merchants." 

170. See FQ V.iii.23.2 & Vl.viii.2.2. 

171-77. An example of the rhetorical figure, icon (see Rix 56). 

171. Her goodly eyes lyke Saphyres shining bri^t: See Am. 15.7. A standard simile, 
particularly among Italian sonneteers. 

172. Her forehead yuory white: See Am. 15.10 and FQ II. iii. 24.1 (of Belphoebe), 
"Her iuorie forhead."The locus classicus was Ovid, Heroides, 20.57, "ebumea 

173. Her cheekes lyke apples which the sun hath rudded: A conflation of the detail of 
the Song of Sol. 2.3, "Like the apple tre among the trees of the forest: so is my 
welbeloued," and 5.10, "My welbeloued is white and ruddy," with the locus 
classicus of Ovid, Met. 4.331, "hie color aprica pendentibus arbore pomis / aut 
ebori tincto est aut sub candore rubenti" (Golding, 4.405-6, "For in his face the 
colour fresh appeared like the same / That is in Apples which doe hang vpon 
the Sunnie side: / As Iuorie shadowed with a red"). 

174. Her lips lyke cherryes charming men to byte: a commonplace, e.g., Shakespeare, 
MND II. ii. 139-40, "Thy lips, those kissing cherries." 

175. vncrudded: uncurdled. 

176. Her paps lyke lyllies budded: See Song of Sol. 2.1-2, "I am the rose of the field, 
and the lilie of the valleis. Like a lilie among the thomes. . . ." 

177. Her srwu/ie necke lyke to a marble towre: See Song of Sol. 4.4, "Thy necke is as 
the towre of Dauid," and 7.4, "Thy necke is like a towre of yuorie." 


Commentary 241 

185-87. The lines, of a strong Neo-Platonic character, complete the strict require- 
ments of the blason by elaborating the lady's inner perfection. They repeat the 
argument of Am. 45, where the poet discerns within his "inward selfe" the 
lady's true worth, "the fayre Idea of your celestiall hew." Guyon sings of 
Belphoebe in a similar vein, FQ II.iii.41.1-2. 

189. red: read, in its obsolete sense of seen or observed (found only in Spenser — see 
FQ lll.ix.2.3). 

189-90. And stand astonisht lyke to those which red I Medusaes mazeful hed: As a 
punishment from Minerva, Medusa, one of the Gorgons, had her hair turned 
into a maze of serpents and her eyes were given the power to turn into stone 
anyone who observed her head (see Ovid, Met. 4.802, "attonitos formidine 
terreat hostes" [she affrights her astonisht enemies with dread]). 

astonisht: Spenser is either 1. playing with the spurious derivation of 
astonied from 'stony'; or 2. has in mind Ovid's "attonitos" (= astonied or 
stunned), its actual etymon. 

mazeful: 1. amazed, astonisht, astonied; 2. like a maze — such as that formed 
by the serpents on Medusa's head; see Am. 7.1, "mazed hart," which corre- 
sponds with a reference to serpents. 

191. There dwels: interiorly, with her inward beauty. 

191-93. For discussion of the various conjugal virtues listed here, see Am. 65 and 69 
notes, passim. Here Spenser lists seven heauenly guifts: hue, chastity, fayth, comely 
womanhed, honour, modesty, vertue; they are akin to, but not identical to the 
seven virtues, faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. 
Vnspotted: echoing both the homeric epithet, dfiufxtov (= spotless; see Od. 
1.29) and the Song of Sol. 4.7, "there is no spot in thee" (used of Una [FQ 
I.xii.22.7] and Belphoebe [Il.iii.22.3]), as well as the Pauline advice to spouses 
to be without "spot or wrinkle . . . holie and without blame" (Eph. 5.27, a 
phrase adopted by the BCP's marriage service). 

192. comely worruinhed: 1595 and FI2 all have womanhood, but rhyme requires 
womanhed. Compare Col. 3.18, also found in the BCP marriage service, "Wiues, 
submit your selues vnto your housbands, as it is comelie in the Lord." 

194-99. Throughout the passage Spenser is reflecting the common Neo-Platonic 
doctrine that love is the desire for beauty and that virtue shows itself in beauty, 
as well as its distinction between the types of love, the heavenly, human and 
bestial. In FQ lll.iii.l he distinguishes between heavenly love, that is "ykindled 
first aboue" and "doth true beautie loue, / And choseth vertue for his dearest 
Dame," and that "which doth base affections moue / In brutish minds, and 
filthy lust inflame." In Am. 8.6 he distinguishes love of heavenly origin from 
"base affections," and in Am. 84.5, "filthy lustfriU fyre," from, "pure affections 
bred in spotlesse brest." 

204. Open the temple gates vnto my loue: A customary epithalamial cry, see Catullus, 
Carmen 61.76-77, "Claustra pandite ianuae / Virgo adest" (Open the bindings 
of the door. The bride comes) and Statius, Epith. in Stellam, 17, "pande fores!" 
(open the gates). Compare also the cry when the bridegroom comes in the 
parable of the virgins. Matt. 25.11, "Lord, open (the gate] to vs." 

207-08. And all the pastes adome as doth hehoue, I And all the pillours deck with girlands 
trim: Adorning the house with garlands was a feature of classical epithalamia but 
is here transposed to the church {temple) in which the marriage ceremony will be 
performed. Adorning the door-posts is common to Statius, Epith. in Stellam, 230- 

242 Commentary 

31, "lam festa fervet domus utraque pompa. / Fronde virent postes" (each house 
glows with festive pomp. The posts are green with garlands), and Catullus, 
Carmen 64.292-93, "Haec circum sedes late contexta locavit, / Vestibulum ut 
moUi velatum fronde vireret" (These [green trees] he [Peneus] placed amply 
around their house, that the veiled portal might flourish with soft leafy gar- 
lands). In SC May, 11-14, Spenser has both the door-posts of the houses and 
the church pillars garlanded during the Mayday festivities in such a way as to 
please a Saynt. 

210. trembling: tremulous, fearful. The bride throughout the passage remains physi- 
cally retiring and bashful. 

215. high altar: a peculiar phrase for Spenser, because use of the term was conten- 
tious in the 16th century, having been supplanted by, among others, 'Lords 

216-17. The sacred cermonies there partake, I The which do endksse matrimony make: 
Echoing Paul, 1 Cor. 9.13, writing of ceremonies, "They which wait at the 
.altar, are partakers with the altar." Spenser seems to have identified the 
marriage rite itself with the actual state (and indissoluble, endlesse, nature) of 
marriage; see FQ II. iv. 22. 5-6, "There wanted nought but few rites to be donne, 
/ Which mariage make." 

217. The middle line of Epith., whose middle words, endlesse matrimony, anticipate 
and parallel its final line's final words, eruilesse moniment. 

220. hollow throates: not empty, but reverberating as a shout of exultation or a 
reverberating sound in a hollow, see FQ II.xii.25.3, "hollow rumbling rore." 

221. Antheme: deriving from antiphona, a composition sung responsively by a divided 
choir; possibly a reference to Ps. 128 (or 67), which the BCP lays down should 
be said or sung during the marriage service. 

223-27. Only here, in the wedding ceremony, is the physical first acknowledged. 
TTie physical closeness of the priest's benedictory imposition of hands, a form of 
blessing used also in the coronation and all ordination rites, causes the bride to 

226-27. How the red roses flush vp in her cheekes, I And the pure snow with goodly 
vermill stayne: In Statius, Epith. in Stellam, 22-23, both the bridegroom and bride 
are so described, "tu modo fronte rosas, violis modo lilia mixta / excipis et 
dominae niveis a vultibus obstas" (Now you receive roses on your brow, now 
lilies mixed with violets, as you protect the snowy looks of your lady). 

227. Like crimsin dyde in grayne: the Kermes or Scarlet Grain (granum = grayne) 
insect was originally thought to be a berry. Dried out they were used for dyeing 

229-30. That euen th' Angels which continually, I About the sacred Altare doe remaine 
I Forget their seruice and about her fly: Depicting the presence of angels at wed- 
dings was sanctioned by common tradition. Perkins 1.613.2, quotes Tertullian 
as proof of the ancient belief that marriage is "that coniunction which was made 
by the Church, consecrated by prayers and solemne seruice, land] witnessed by the 
Angels." The locus biblicus for the belief lies with Rev. 8.3, where angels are 
presented as surrounding the altar, "And I saw the seuen Angels, which stode 
before God . . . Then another Angel came and stode before the altar." The 
verses contribute to the apocalyptic context of Epith. and are used also to 
construct the account of Mercilla's palace (FQ V.ix. 28-29) and to provide detail 
for the temple (and altar) of the Temple of Venus {FQ IV.x.42.1-5). 

Commentary 243 

234. sad: serious and sober. Spenser uses the word to indicate the noble mood of the 
Red Cross Knight ("too solemne sad" [FQ I.i.2.8]), Guyon ("Still solemne sad" 
[]) and Arthur ("somwhat sad, and solemne" [II.ix.36.8]). 

238-39. Why blush ye loue to giue to me your hand, I The pledge of all our band?: The 
first physical touch of the poem and reflecting the BCP's marriage service rubric 
prior to the exchange of vows, "the Minister receiuing the woman at her father 
or friendes handes, shall cause the man to take the woman by the right hande, 
and so either to giue their troth to the other" (see the detail of the following 
prayer, "pledged their troth either to other"). 

240. Sing ye sweet Angels, Alleluya sing: During the apocalyptic Marriage of the 
Lamb, Rev. 19.6-7, like exclamations are sung, "And I heard like a voyce of a 
great multitude (in heauen) . . . saying, Hallelu-iah: for our Lord God almightie 
hathe reigned. Let vs be glad and reioyce, and giue glorie to him: for the 
Mariage of the Lambe is come." The verses are echoed in the epithalamial song 
during Una's espousal ceremony, FQ l.xii.39.3-4. 

242. Now al is done: A further apocalyptic association, recalling the Marriage of the 
Lamb, where John sees the "holie citie" descending, "prepared as a bride 
trimmed for her housband," and hears the great voice exclaim: "It is done. 1 am 
a and (O, the beginning and the end" (Rev. 21.2 & 6). 

243. triumph of our victory: Into the procession back to the bridal home, which this 
stanza introduces, Spenser allusively incorporates details of the Roman triumph 
or solemn procession and entry of the victorious general into the city. TTie 
procession included the spoils and gains of the campaign {glory of her gaine 
1244]); for the occasion a coronea triumphalis (triumphal coronal) was awarded 
{coronall 1255]), while the general wore the tunica palmite, a tunic embroided 
with vines and palms, {wreathes of vine [255]). In adopting the military conceit 
Spenser has imitated Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 186-97, where the soldiers are 
called upon to distance themselves from the god of war and lay down their arms. 

245. ioyance: a Spenserian coinage. 

249. This day for euer to me holy is: a repeated refrain, see lines 125 & 263. 

251. belly full: either 1. full wine-skin, its sense in Old English; or 2. all that the 
bellies of the guests will hold. 

252. wull: will or want. 

253-54. And sprinkle all the pastes and wals with wine, I That they vnay sweat, and 
drunken be withall: an allusion to the Roman custom of anointing the door-posts 
of the house to which the bride is brought, see Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 208-10, 
"hi nostra nitidos postes obducere myrto / contendant; pars nectareis adspergite 
tecta / fontibus et flamma lucos adolete Sabaeos" (let these hasten to weave our 
sacred mytle about the shining door-posts. Sprinkle the house with drops of 
nectar and bum a whole grove of Sabaean incense). Spenser had already drawn 
on the passage for the espousal feast of Una, FQ l.xii.38.1-5: 
Then gan they sprinckle all the posts with wine. 

And made great feast to solemnize that day; 

TTiey all perfumde with frankincense diuine, 

And precious odours fetcht from far away, 

Tliat all the house did sweat with great aray: 
sweat: either 1. an echo of Claudian's nitidos — plump and fat as well as 
shiny; or 2. as in FQ above, where sweat alludes to sprinkled perfumes. 

244 Commentary 

255-57. Croume ye God Bacchus with a coronall, I And Hymen abo crowne with 
wreathes of vine, I And let the Graces daunce vnto the rest: directly imitating 
Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 216-17, where the military imagery (see line 243 note) 
cedes place to instructions to Hymen, the Graces and Concord: "Tu festas, 
Hymenaee, faces, tu Gratia, flores / elige, tu geminas, Concordia, necte coro- 
nas" (You, Hymen, choose the festive torches, you, the Graces, choose the 
festive flowers, you. Concord, weave twin coronals). The crowns are to be as 
rich as that which the Bacchae wove with the mantling vine, "opaco palmite 
Bacchae" (217). 

Graces daunce: for the graces dancing, see SC April, 109-12 & FQ 

Bacchus: the god of both wine and fertility. 

265-66. This day the sunne is in his chiefest hight, I With Bamaby the bright: The feast 
of St. Barnabas, 1 1 June. According to the old style Julian calendar, 1 1 June was 
also the summer solstice. The lines echo the proverb, 'Bamaby bright, Bamaby 
bright, / the longest day and the shortest night.' 

267. declining daily by degrees: 1. little by little; 2. astronomically, after the summer 

269. Crab: The zodiacal Cancer, which the BCP calendar ordains for 12 June. 

273-74. Yet neuer day so long, but late would passe. I Ring ye the beb, to make it weare 
away: A possible echo of the current proverb, "For though the day be neuer so 
longe / At last belles ryngeth to euensonge," found, inter alia, in Hawes, Pastime 
o/ Pleasure 208.5479-80. 
late: finally. 

275. bonfiers make all day: A possible echo of the cry in Statius, Epith. in Stellam, 
231, "effulgent compita flammis" (the cross-roads are bright with fires), but 
more probably a general call to rejoicing. 

278-79. Ah when will this long weary day haue end I And lende me leaue to come vnto 
my loue!: See Am. 87.2. Such complaining is a feature of most epithalamia, see 
Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 14-15, "incusat spes aegra moras longique videntur / 
stare dies" (sad hope complains at the delay and the long days seem to stand 
still), and 288, "calet obvius ire / iam princeps tardumque cupit discedere 
solem" (the prince bums to go to meet her and desires the tardy sun descend); 
see also Catullus, Carmen 62.1-2, "Vesper adest, iuvenes, consurgite: Vesper 
Olympo expectata diu vix tandem lumina tollit." (Evening has come, youths rise 
up: Vesper from Olympus is now at last just raising his expected light). 

282-84. Hast thee O fayrest Planet to thy home I Within the Westeme fome: I Thy tyred 
steedes long since haue need of rest: A frequent poetic image; e.g., FQ I. v. 44. 7-9, 
where night "backe returning tooke her wonted way, / To runne her timely 
race, whilst Phoebus pure / In westeme waues his wearie wagon did recure." 

282. O fayrest Planet: in the Ptolemaic universe the sun was accounted a planet. 

285-90. The lines are close to Bion's hymn to Hesperus, Idyll 10.1-6 & 10, the 
locus classicus of such hymns, 

'EoTiepe, x&c, tpaxdq xpOaeov ^6.oc, 'AfjjpoYevElaq, 
'EaTiepe Kuav^ag (epdv ^iXe vuKxdq dtyaXfia, 
x6ooov dt<t)aup(5xepo(; ^ifjvac;, 6oov l^oxoc; fioTpov, 
Kaipe <^tXo<;, Ka( |ioi tiotI Tioi^^va k(&hov dyovxi 
dvxt aeXavafag xO 8(5ou 4)doc; . . . 
&XX'tp6.(ii- KaXdv dt x'6paaaa^6v(p ouvap^oGai 

Commentary 245 

(Hesperus, golden lamp of the loving daughter of the foam, beloved Hesperus, 
glorious crown of the dark blue night, that much gloomier than the moon as 
you are bright among the stars, greetings friend. And as 1 lead the joyous 
procession to the shepherd's abode, grant me your light in place of the moon's. 
... 1 am a lover and it is good to make lovers content.) 

The hymn was frequently imitated (see Ronsard, Oeuvres 2.345. Ode 20.1- 
9), although the ni^tes dread (290) is more specifically available in Bion than 
anywhere else, "KaXdv 5^ t '^paaaa^i^vcp auvap^aGai" (it is good to protect 

285. gloome: gloam, become dusk, possibly reflecting Bion's d<|>aup6T8po(; = 

286. with golden creast: a delicate rendering of Bion's "xpoaeov . . . dya^l^"" 
(golden . . . crown or crest). In FQ l.xii.2.3, the flaming "creast" belongs to 

288. ^orious lampe of loue: the planet Venus, but see Bion, Idyll 10.1, "'EaTrspe, 
Tdc; ^paxdq xP^^^o^ ^6.oq ' A(l)poYeveiaq" (Hesperus, golden lamp of the 
loving daughter of the foam). Compare also Buttet's working of Bion's Idyll 10, 
Epithalame, 539-40, "Dieu te gard, 6 flambeau, 6 joieuse lumiere, / Digne de 
luire au ciel sus toutes la premiere." 

290. through the nights sad dread: 1595 has nights dread, which a hand in the British 
Museum copy has amended to th/o/rough the nights dread, while F12 amends it to 
ni^ts sad dread, clearly for the sake of scansion. Some modem editors prefer 
ni^tes, but, given the precedent in Am. 87.3-4, "many nights . . . theyr sad 
protract," and Spenser's frequent description of night as sad (e.g., FQ l.i.39.9), 
the Folios' emendation seems an informed one. (Possibly the 8o compositor, 
misreading the closing and opening . . .s s. . . and the closing and opening . . .d 
d. . . of 'nightes sad dread,' mistakenly dropped the middle word.) 

291-92. How chearefuUy thou lookest from ahoue, I And seemst to laugh: an echo of 
Spenser's favorite Homeric epithet, "^iXo[ineibi\c, ' A^podtxT]" (loving-to- 
smile Venus; see Horn. Hymn, 5.65.155 and passim; see Am. 39.1-2 note). 

296-97. hJow ceasse ye damsels your delights forepast; I Enough is it: matches Catullus' 
conclusion to Carmen 61.227-28, "Claudite ostia virgines. / Lusimus satis" 
(Maidens, shut the doors. We have played enough). 

298. Now day is doen, and night is nighing fast: I Now bring the Bryde into the brydall 
boures: Imitating the repeated refrain of Catullus, Carmen 61.90-91 (and 
passim), "abit dies: / prodeas, nova nupta" (the day is done; new bride, you may 
come forth). 

300. Now ni^t is come: the phrase is apposite and exact. Occurring a quarter way 
through Stanza 17, it indicates that 16 1/4 hours have already passed, thus 
matching the almanacal observation that in southern Ireland daylight on 1 1 
June, the mid-summer solstice, extends for 16 1/4 hours (see Hieatt passim). 

302. Lay her in lillies and in violets: In Statius, Epith. in Stellam, 22, the bridegroom 
protects his bride from the shower of lilies and violets: "violis modo lilia mixta 
/ excipis" (intercept the lilies mixed with violets). 

303-4. Ami silken courteins ouer her display, I And odourd sheetes, and Arras couerlets: 
Spenser, in observing the epithalamial convention of describing the bridal bed, 
is closest to Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 210-213, where the graces are called upon 
to employ all their arts in decorating the marriage bed with yellow silks from 
China and tapestries from Sidon, and to perfume the house with Sabaean 

246 Commentary 

incense, "flamma lucos adolete Sabaeos; / pars infecta croco velamina lutea 
Serum / pandite Sidoniasque solo prostemite vestes / ast alii thalamum docto 
componite textu." Catullus {Carmen 64.50-51) paints a similar picture of the 
marriage bed with its coverlet embroidered with details of ancient heroes and 
their deeds. 

306. proud humility: a daring oxymoron; 1. splendid humility (see FQ V.vii.3.7, "great 
humility"); 2. the connotation of tumescent or desirous is also present. 

307-10. A Spenserian contaminatio. Properly Maia inhabited Mount Cyllene in 
Arcadia and the god Mercury, conceived by Jove, was bom there rather than in 
the vale of Tempe, which was location of Jove's pursuit of Daphne. Spenser has 
associated Maia with Venus and numbered her among Venus' attendants, even 
if the Alcidalian brooke is in Boeotia and it is there that the graces bathe with 
Venus — seeNatalisGDmes4.15.129a.34-35, "nam saepius ad Orchomenios has 
lotum ire solitas ad fontem Acidalium dixerunt antiqui" (for the ancient authors 
state that these [the graces] were accustomed to go to Orchomenum to the 
Acidalian brooke to bathe; see Servius, ad Aen. 1.720, "fonte Acidalio qui est 
in Orchomeno Boeotiae civitate, in quo se Gratiae lavant, quas Veneri constat 
sacra tas" [the Acidalian brook which is in Orchomenum in Boeotia, in which 
the graces bathed themselves, who are sacred to Venus]). The dance of the 
graces on Mount Acidale in FQ Vl.x.6ff. is based partly on the same passage. 

308. Tempe: Qjmpare the epithalamial associations of Tempe in Catullus, Carmen 
64.285-86, "viridantia Tempe, / Tempe, quae silvae cingunt super impendentes 
/ . . . linquens Doris celebranda choreis" (leaving verdant Tempe, Tempe 
surrounded with hanging forests, to be haunted by Dorian dances). 

311. ye damsels may be gon: TTie dismissal of spectators and outsiders to the marriage 
rites allows Spenser to change the stanzas' refrain at line 314 to the negative. 

316. For the epithalamial feature of interest and debt, see line 33 note. The sum of 
the poet's labors during the day (and pains during courtship — see Am. 63) are 
cancelled for ever. 

labour: 1. toil; 2. pain; 3. the latinate use of labor meaning an eclipse 
cannot be discounted, thus night that eclipses the day (see Vergil, Aen. 1.742). 

322-39. From feare of perrill and joule horror free. I Let no false treason seeke vs to 
entrap: Introduces a series of prayers, seemingly shaped after the manner of an 
exorcism, against the offspring of night. Spenser's list in part is very close to 
that of Natalis Comes 3.12.72b.47-73a.l (see Hesiod, Theogony, 211-15), "qui 
a Genealogis antiquis sic nominantur. Amor, Dolus, Metus, Labor, Invidentia, 
Fatum, Senectus, Mors, Tenebrae, Miseria, Quaerela, Gratia, Fraus, Pertinacia, 
Parcae, Hesperides, Somr\ia, quos omnes Erebo et Nocte natos fuerunt" (who 
from ancient genealogies are thus named, Love, Deceit [dolefull (334)], Fear 
[feare of perill (322) and hidden feares (336)], Labor [or pain, labour (316)], 
Jealousy, Fate, Old Age, Death [damned ghosts (347)], Darkness, Misfortune, 
Lament [lamenting cryes (334)], Falsehood [false treason (323) and false whispers 
(335)1, Obstinacy, the Fates, Parcae and Hesperides, Dreams [deluding dreames 
(338)1, all of whom were bom of Erebus and Night). 

323. Let no false treason seek vs to entrap: See Am. 12.4. 

328-29. Lyke as when hue with fayre Alcmena lay, I When he begot the great Tirythian 
groome: Jove gained access to Alcmena by disguising himself as her absent 
husband Amphitryon. He delayed the sun's rising so that his night with Alc- 
mena was extended to three nights. The fruit of their love-making was Hercules. 

Commentary 247 

Compare Chaucer, T. & C. 3.1427-28, "O nyght, alias! why nyltow ouer vs 
houe, / As longe as whan Almena lay by loue?" and Buttet, Epithalame, 25-26, 
"descendance certene / Du grand Tirynthien, fils de la belle Alcmene." 

329. Tirynthian groome: Hercules who was brought up in Tiryns. 

groome: either 1. bridegroom; or 2. one who attends horses, with the 
suggestion of Hercules' labor in the stables of Diomedes. 

330-31. Seemingly a Spenserian innovation. Majesty customarily being thought the 
daughter of Honor and Reverentia (see Ovid, Fasti, 5.23-25). 

334-39. Such imprecations against the spirits of the night are a familiar feature of 
both classical and Renaissance epithalamia, e.g., Statius, Epith. in Stellam, 26- 
30, prays, "cedant curaeque metusque, / cessent mendaces obliqui carminis 
astus, / Fama tace .../... consumpta est fabula vulgi" (let anxieties and fears 
cede place, let crafty hints of false stories cease. Rumor be silent . . . the gossip 
of the vulgar kind is finished). Compare the call for peace and calm in Claudi- 
an, Epith. Honorii, 191-93, "Procul igneus horror / Thoracum, gladiosque tegat 
vagina minaces. / Stent bellatrices aquilae saevique dracones" (Let the fiery 
horror of breastplates be distant, let the scabbard ensheath the threatening 
swords, let the martial standards and savage dragons stand still). 

334. lamenting cryes: see Puttenham 41, where epithalamial music and noise-making 
is designed "to diminish the noise of the laughing lamenting spouse." 

dolefull: an extended pun: 1. full of grief, from dolor = grief; 2. full of 
deceit, from dolus = deceit — see lines 322-23 note; 3. possibly an echo also of 
dole = divided, hence within nor yet without (335). 

335. within nor yet without: An allusion to the epithalamial conventions of noise- 
making. Tlie first four lines of the stanza refer to factors within the marriage 
chamber (such as the lamenting of the spouse); the subsequent lines to factors 
from outside it. Conventionally such noise was both music and "the casting of 
pottes full of nuttes round about the chamber vpon the hard floore or pauement 
... so as the Ladies and gentlewomen should haue their eares so occupied what 
with Musicke, and what with their handes wantonly scambling and catching 
after the nuttes, that they could not intend to barken after any other thing" 
(Puttenham 41, who draws upon Catullus, Carmen 61.124, "neu nuces pueris 

337. misconceiued: wrongly conceived. 

340. helpelesse harmes: harms that defeat help. 

341. Pouke: {ponke in 1595 as well as F12; Old Irish puca, Middle English, pouke 
[identified with the devil]), a malicious sprite or goblin, who under the name 
Robin Goodfellow appeared at weddings to ridicule them with his tricks. 

345. shriech Oule: An instrument of night and ignorance in TM 283-84, "In stead 
of them fowle Goblins and Shriekowles, / With fearfuU howling do all places 
fill," and a sign of desolation in Isa. 34.14, where it is a translation of the 
Hebrew lilith, either a female demon associated with night, storms, and unclean 
ghoulish creatures or a succuba (see Jeffrey 454). It is the "messenger of death" 
in FQ I.v.30.6 (following Ovid, Met. 10.453, "funereus bubo," and Chaucer, 
Parlement of Foules, 343, "of deth the bode bryngeth"). 

Storke: Compare Ovid, Met. 6.97, where making noises like a stork is the 
punishment for Antigone's jealousy, "ipsa sibi plaudat crepitante ciconia rostro" 
(Golding, 6.117, "and with a bobbed Bill [of a Stork) bewayle the cause of hir 
missehap"; Lev. 11.19, numbers the stork amongst its birds of abomination). 

248 Commentary 

346. Nor the night Rauen that still deadly yels: Compare the June Eclogue of SC, 
"Here no night Rauens lodge more black then pitche / . . . nor gastly owles doe 
flee" (23-24) and E. K.'s gloss, "by such hatefuU byrdes, hee meanenth all 
misfortunes (whereof they be tokens) flying euery where"; see FQ Il.xii.36.4-5, 
where the "hoars Night-rauen" is described as the "trump of dolefuU drere." 

347. damned gfiosts: such ghosts, who inhabit "that darke dreadfiiU hole of Tartare 
steepe" at FQ ll.xii.6.4-5, are associated at Vl.xii.35 with Cerebus whom 
Hercules, the "Tirythian swaine," dragged from hell to the upper world as a 
lesson to Pluto and "other damned ghosts." 

349-50. Ne let th' vnplesant Quyre of Frogs still croking I Make vs to wish theyr choking: 
A conflation of classical sources with local detail, see Vergil, Georgics, 1.378, 
"et veterem in limo ranae cecinere querellam" (in the mire the frogs croak their 
ancient lament; frogs are associated with jealousy or Invidia [= to look askance] 
through an extended etymological pun on limus [= both looking askance and 
mire]). But the irritation Spenser felt at the frogs' nocturnal croaking in the 
Irish bog is also evident both here and also in FQ V.x.23.8. 

353. But let stil Silence trew night watches keepe: Not the silence of the prior stanza 
which was the mere absence of noise, but creative (and continuing) silence 
which constitutes peace. Spenser retains the Latin sense of the word, where 
silentium intends perfectness and the silenda were mysteries or secrets. 

trew: either 1. 'still and true silence' — a Latinism, see line 29 note; or 2. 
'true night watches.' 

354. assurance: 1. confidence; 2. the assurance of salvation; 3. by inference, a 
betrothal (see Am. 42.12 note & FQ l.ii.27.1, "Henceforth in safe assuraunce 
may ye rest," which words constitue the plighting of a troth). 

355. tymely sleep: 1. opportune sleep, at this time; 2. sleep that occurs for this 
moment of time. 

356. poure his limbs forth: a Latinism, from fundere = to pour out, but meaning to 
stretch out when used of the body (see Vergil, Aen. 5.837), thus imitating 
exactly Catullus, when describing the spouses' forthcoming sleep. Carmen 
64.330-31, "quae tibi flexanimo mentem perfimdat amore / languidulosque 
paret tecum coniungere somnos" (which pours (spreads) onto your soul heart- 
swaying love and prepares to join to you languid sleep). 

playne: either 1. the military imagery of night watches (353) is being retained 
— 'to take the plain' being the equivalent of 'to take the field' — thus the 
marriage bed is being equated with a battlefield; see Statius, Epith. in Stellam, 59, 
"fessa iacet stratis" (tired she lies upon the bed / plain); or 2. obliquely, plaint 
or moan, see FQ IlI.v.39.8-9. 
357-59. Winged cupids and Venus' doves are included in most epithalamia, see 
Statius, Epith. in Stellam, 54, "toros deae tenerum premit agmen Amorum" (a 
band of tender loves swarms about her bed), and Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 153, 
who depicts Venus accompanied by a broad company of winged loves, "prose- 
quitur voluver late comitatus Amorum," describing them later as a "pennata co- 
hors" (204; winged band). See Du Bellay, Epithalame, 307-10, "Et les petits A- 
mours / Y volcttent sans cesse / Autour de la Princesse / En mill^ et mille tours." 

357. hundred: Although the customary classical number of winged loves is a thou- 
sand, a hundred is used by Spenser to suggest a full number, see FQ III. iv. 2 1.1 

little . . . hues: reminiscent of amoretti. 

Commentary 249 

360. secret dark: Statius, Epith. in SteUam, 59-60, writes of the bed of Venus yielding 
its guilty secrets, "conscia culpae." Spenser is at pains to urge the lack of guilt 
and the propriety of the conjugal proceedings — which none reprones. 

362. sruitches of delight: 1. delights that have been grasped — also with sexual under- 
tones (OED 6b), see FQ II. v. 34. 6, "to steale a snatch of amorous conceipt"; 2. 
short spells or periods of delight; 3. entanglements or srmres. 

364. Ye sonnes of Venus, play your sports at will: Cupid sporting with his brothers is 
a feature of Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 72-73, "mille pharetrati ludunt in margine 
fratres, / . . . gens mollis Amorum" (a thousand brother loves with quivers play 
round about the margin ... a tender company of loves). The instruction exactly 
corresponds to that given the lovers in Catullus, Carmen 61.206, "Ludite ut 
libet" (sport at will). 

365. pleasure: personified here, as it is again in HL 280-90, in a passage which 
strongly echoes this stanza: 

There thou them placest in a Paradize 

Of all delight, and ioyous happie rest, 

Where they doe feede on Nectar heauenly wize, 

With Hercules and Hebe, and the rest 

Of Venus dearlings, through her bountie blest. 

And lie like Gods in yuorie beds arayd. 

With rose and lillies ouer them displayd. 

TTiere with thy daughter Pleasure they doe play 

TTieir hurtlesse sports, without rebuke or blame. 

And in her snowy bosome boldly lay 

TTieir quiet heads, deuoyd of guilty shame 

367. albe it good or ill: An unenforced aside concerning the joys of sexual pleasure 
and a properly protestant assertion, e.g., Perkins, 3.689.1, is at pains to assert 
that the marriage act was "neither good nor bad" (a point Spenser makes in 
Am. 65), "The mariage bed signifieth that solitarie and secret societie which is 
betweene man and wife alone. And it is a thing of its owne nature indifferent; 
neither good nor bad." 

368. play: suggesting sexual pleasures — see FQ, where Pleasure is the 
daughter of Cupid and Psyche. 

369. For it will soone be day: See Buttet, Epithalame, 601-02, "entres au desire sejour, 
/ Car je croi que demain il sera trop tot jour." 

372. The appearance of the moon — as an omen — is a common detail in Renais- 
sance epithalamia, see Buttet, Epithalame, 534-36, "Et d'oii vient ce grand feu? 
Page, ouvre la fenestre: / Sans plus nous retarder, si faut-il le savoir. / Hkl c'est 
I'astre pieux qui flamme sur le soir." 
374-96. The invocation imitates directly Statius, Epith. in Stellam, 268-273, in 
which Cynthia and Juno (Lucina = the one who brings to light) are addressed 
and asked to bless the woman with off-spring, yet not to cause her discomfort, 

acceleret partu decimum bona Cynthia mensem, 

.sed parcat Lucina precor; tuque ipse parenti 

parce, puer, ne moUem uterum, ne stantia laedas 

pectora; cumque tuos tacto natura recessu 

formarit vultus, multum de patre decoris, 

plus de matre feras. 

250 Commentary 

(May goodly Cynthia hasten the tenth month for the childbirth, but spare 
her, Lucina, I pray. And you, child, spare your mother and do not injure her 
tender womb or swelling breasts. And when nature in that secret recess has 
shaped your features, may you draw much beauty from your father and more 
from your mother.) 

374. Cinthia: the goddess Diana, called Cynthia on account of her birth on Mount 
Cynthus. She was patroness of virginity, but as goddess of the moon also the 
protector of married women, especially those in childbirth. 

379-81. Ami for a fleece of woll, uihich priuily, I The Latmian shephard once vnto thee 
brought, I His pleasures with thee wrought: The moon-goddess, having fallen in 
love with the shepherd Endymion, descended night after night to enjoy his 
favors. (See E. K.'s gloss to SC July, 64, "The Shepheard is Endymion, whom 
the Poets fayne, to haue bene so beloued of Phoebe.s. the Moone, that he was 
by her kept a sleepe in a caue by the space of xxx. years, for to enioye his 
companye.") According to Vergil, Georgics, 3.391-93, the fleece of woll was 
given to the moon by Pan and not by Endymion, but Spenser may have known 
Servius' commentary on Vergil's lines, "mutet fabulam: nam non Pan sed 
Endymion anmiasse dicitur Lunam" (he is changing the fable: for it is not Pan 
but Endymion who is said to have loved the Moon). Customarily the legend 
recounts that Pan beguiled Luna by changing himself into a ram with a beautiful 
white fleece. That version of the legend is alluded to in Claudian, Epith. 
Honorii, 183, "lanigeri suis ostentantia pellem" (with its device of the fleece- 
covered pelt of the ram). Scaliger 151 writes at length on the necessary appear- 
ance of wool in epithalamia. 

379. priuily: secretly, possibly an echo of CatuUus's furtim, Carmen 64.5-6, "ut 
Triviam furtim sub Latmia saxa relegans / dulcis amor gyro devocet aerio" (how 
sweet love allures Diana from her airy circuit, banishing her secretly to the 
rocky Latmian cave). 

383-87. Classical epithalamia generally conclude by asking the blessing of children, 
see Claudian, Epith. Honorii, 340-41, "sic uterus crescat Mariae; sic natus in 
ostro / parvus Honoriades genibus considat avitis" (so may the womb of Maria 
grow big; so may little Honorius, bom in the purple, rest in his grandfather's 
lap); and Catullus, Carmen 61.207-10, "brevi liberos date, non decet / tam 
vetus sine liberis / nomen esse, sed indidem / semper ingenerari" (bring forth 
children soon; it is not proper that such an old name should be without chil- 
dren, but that they should be ever born from the same stock; see 61.212-16). 

383. wemens labours: the pains of childbirth. 

384. generation goodly dost enlarge: either 1 . does bless liberally with generating (OED 
7); or 2. since Spenser often uses enlarge of the human race or kind (see HL 105, 
& HHL 52), the continuance of the human race, succeeding generations. 

goodly: either an adjective qualifying generation or an adverb governing 

385. Encline thy will: used technically of prayers, see FQ Vl.vii.26.2, "That to his 
prayer nought he would incline," and Am. 22.2, "Men to deuotion ought to be 
inclynd." The verb derived from the oft-repeated biblical (and psalmic) orison, 
"let my prayer enter into thy presence, encline thine eare vnto my calling" (Ps. 

wishfuU vow: a vow full of wishes; the spouses' conjoining will overcome 
the lament of Am. 89.3, "and in her songs sends many a wishfull vow." 

Commentary 25 1 

386. informe: shape inwardly — see Am. 8.9 note. 

timely seed: 1. opportune; 2. occurring within the course of time (see line 
404 note). 
390-91. great luno, which with awful might I The lawes of wedlock still dost patronize: 
Juno was the protector of women and the goddess of lawful and fruitful marriage, 
see Vergil, Aen. 4.59, "lunoni ante omnis, cui vincla iugalia curae" (great Juno, 
under whose patronage are the bonds of wedlock). 

awful: a direct translation of Statius, Epith. in Stellam, 239-40, "dat luno 
verenda / vincla" (Juno brings the awful bonds). Buttet, Epithalame, 589-94, 
invokes, in a similar manner, Venus, Juno and Hymen: 

La pudique Venus, qui voz deuc cueurs attise, 

Et la saincte Junon de sa main vous conduise; 

Le bien heureux Hymen qui ce triomphe a fait, 

Vous etregne a jamais d' un saint vouloir parfait; 

Une agreable paix, une amour mutuelle, 

Couchant avecques vous, i soit perpetuelle; 

patronize: defend or protect. 
392-93. The common distinction between the betrothal and the wedding ceremony 
is present here: Una is betrothed but not married to the Red Cross Knight at 
the conclusion to FQ I. 

religion: 1 . from religio — re + ligo, to bind together; the same root as lex = 
law, and used by classical authors occasionally to mean the same as obligatio; 
hence the binding together that plighting troth involves; 2. synonymously, rites 
(OED 3), hence the rites of betrothal which are solemnized by the rites of mar- 

solemnize: to celebrate marriage with proper ceremonies. 

398. Genius: (from gigno = beget or produce); the procreative force, a titular deity 
of a person. The genius was a masculine principle, the guardian spirit of a 
woman being her Juno — see Natalis Comes 4. 3. 92b. 3 1-35, "Crediderunt 
siquidem antiqui singulos homines, statim atque nati fuissent, daemones duos 
habere, altemum malum, altemum bonum, quorum nos sub tutela essemus, quos 
ambos Genios vocarunt, et putarunt nobiscum esse natos. Dictus est autem 
Genius, vt placuit Latinis, a gignendo, vel quia nobiscum gignatur, vel quia illi 
procreandorum cura diuinitus commissa putaretur" (The ancients believed that 
each person, immediately they were bom, had two spirits, one bad, one good, 
under whose guardianship we lie, both of whome they called Genius, and they 
thought they were bom with us. Genius is so called, according to the Latins, 
from gignendo, either because he is bom with us, or because the guardianship of 
generation is thought to be committed to him from the gods). For Spenser's 
definition of Genius, see FQ II.xii.47. 

398-99. Genius . . . gentle . . . genial: a Latinate polyptoton. 

399. genial bed: the lectus genialis, the Latin technical term for the marriage bed, 
being dedicated to Genius. 

404. timely fruit: 1. appropriate; but 2. see FQ, "with timely fruit her belly 
sweld," with its connotations of early ripening (OED 1; see FQ VI. x. 38. 5). 
Compare Buttet, Epithalame, 600-602, "AUes donque, alles 6 bien heureux 
amans, / Et, avecques tout 1' heur que le Ciel vous presente, / Receves le doux 
fruit de votre longue attente." 

252 Commentary 

405. Hebe: the goddess of youth (see NataUs Comes 2. 5. 44b. 46, "quam Latini 
luventatem vocarunt"). She was given in marriage to Hercules by Juno. Spenser 
associates them with Pleasure in HL 282-84. She was considered the principle 
of fruitfulness and ripeness — see NataUs Comes 2.5.45a.45: through her "omnia 
herbarum, arborumque genera pullulant, et pubescunt . . . verumetiam omnia 
nata conservent" (every type of plant and tree springs forth and ripens . . . 
indeed everything that is bom is conserved). 

Hymen free: Hymen's work is now accomplished. 

413. aU ye powers: either 1. the classical virtus (= heavenly power, as in the phrase 
deorum virtute = by the power or aid of the gods); or 2. a reference to angels, the 
sixth order of angels being the 'Powers' (see Col. 1.16) — if so, then Spenser is 
alluding to the neo-Platonist idea that angels inhabit and guard each sphere in 
the Ptolemaic scheme of the heavens and govern human destinies, see HHB 78- 

414. fayne: imagine or conceive. 

417-22. large posterity . . . there inherit: See Matt. 5.5, "for they shal inherite the 
earth," and Ps. 37.22 & 30, "the blessed of God, shal possesse the land . . . the 
righteous shal inherite the land." TTiat children are ultimately for the populat- 
ing of heaven was orthodox contemporary marriage doctrine, e.g., Smith, A 
Preparative to Mariage 105, "Therefore in Psalm 127.4. ("Loe children and the 
fruite of the wombe: are an heritage and gift that commeth of the Lorde"] 
children are called the heritage of the Lord, to shewe that they should bee 
trained as though they were not mens children but Gods, that they may have 
Gods heritage after." 

420. haughty pallaces: high rather than proud. 

42 1 . guerdon: reward. 

423-25. blessed Saints . . . tymely ioyes: For the idea of (poetic) immortality, see Am. 
82.1-8 note, citing FQ Il.i.31.1-4. The idea of immortality being gained 
through children moves easily to the possibility of poetic immortality in Epith. 's 
final envoy. 

424. Requires a further (hexametric?) line to complete its rhyme. Some editors have 
concluded that the compositor has dropped a line (see Variorum, Minor Poems, 
2.493-94), although Hieatt 68 proposes a numerological argument that the line 
is deliberately omitted "so as to create a situation that can be "recompensed" 
in his [Spenser's] tomata, in accordance with his manner of resolving his other 
symbolic schemes." 

427. duly: see your dew time (430). 

429. hasty accidents: occurrences (beyond human control) happening in time — see 
FQ Vl.xii.20.2-4. 

430. stay: halt, arrest. 

432-33. Be vnto her a goodly ornament, I And for short time an endlesse moniment: The 
idea of poetic immortality is traditional, although not customary in epithalamia. 
Spenser is fond of the conceit, see RT 405-6, "Rome liuing, was the worlds sole 
ornament, / And dead, is now the world sole moniment," a translation of du 
Bellay, "Rome vivant fu I'omement du monde, / Et morte elle est du monde le 
tumbeau." The conceit had occurred regularly among the amoretti, see Am. 27, 
69.9-12, 75.9-10 & 82.4-8. Spenser often had in mind both the conclusion to 
Ovid's Met. 15.878-79 and Horace, Odes, 3.30.1-9, which began, "Exegi 
monumentum acre pcrcnnis," which E. K. cites as apposite in the Envoy to SC. 

Commentary 253 

short time: A complex phrase, whose ambiguity contributes markedly to the 
envoy's richness. 1. While time endures, equivalent, then, to the classical 
Ppctxuc; xP<5voq (see Plato, Timaeus, 75B) and breve tempus to indicate the span 
of time. Tliis sense is confirmed by its context in FQ VII.viii.1.9, "Short Time 
shall soon cut down with his consuming sickle." 2. The short time of the 
marriage day which this poem will eternise — Spenser would have known the 
Pauline marriage instruction, 1 Cor. 7.29 & 31, "And this I say, brethren, 
because the time is short, hereafter that bothe they which haue wiues, be as 
thogh they had none ... for the facion of this worlde goeth away." 3. Hieatt 
advances the case that Epithalamion is a moniment in that it celebrates the 
cyclical divisions created by the sun and numerologically discernible in the 
poem as the year, days and hours. He also proposes that short time is sidereal 
time which, when compared to the sun's completion of an orbit, is caught short, 
is incomplete (see Hieatt passim). 

Textual Notes 

The Text 

The text selected as copy-text is the 1595 octavo edition of Amoretti and 
Epithalamion, held at the Wrenn Library, University of Texas, which contains 
the fewest errors of all extant copies of the edition; in the textual notes eight of 
the eleven known extant copies of the edition are collated with it. 

The 1595 edition of Amoretti and Epithalamion, apart from its punctuation, 
is generally printed accurately. Since the sonnets, as printed, correspond with a 
chronological order, the printer has presumably taken care to duplicate the 
order of the manuscript as sent. The edition contains some faults but the extant 
copies reveal most of its sheets to be without major error. Verbal (not literal) 
differences between the 1595 octavo and the 1611 first folio edition and the 
1617 second folio edition of the Collected Works have been recorded in the 
textual notes. Most verbal emendations of 1595 that were required had already 
been made in the folio editions. 

The punctuation of 1595 edition of Amoretti and Epithalamion, however, 
particularly when compared with the careful punctuation of the 1590 and 1596 
editions of The Faerie Queene, must be characterized as idiosyncratic. The 
compositors, possibly with a rigid metrical structure in mind, have attempted to 
provide each sonnet with a uniform pattern of punctuation. Generally each of 
the sonnet's lines are concluded with the following pattern: for each quatrain **, 
: , . (or :)" with a final couplet ", ." . Clearly such rigidity could not be main- 
tained: not only did it confuse meaning, it frequently verged on the ridiculous. 
Thus the pattern was sometimes moderated and even, occasionally, abandoned. 

Tlie 1611 first folio Collected Works attempted to remedy the octavo's 
punctuation. But its attempts to punctuate logically rather than metrically, or 
at least to punctuate less rigidly, eventually proved too great a task. The 
compositors' efforts became half-hearted and the ensuing mix of punctuative 
styles is not very successful. Generally, however, punctuation occurs more 
frequently within a line and the more blatant idiosyncratic marks are removed. 

Tlie proposed edition, in line with editorial convention, has accepted the 
punctuation of the 1595 octavo edition. Changes have been made only where 
the edition is clearly faulty or where the punctuation would mislead or confuse 
a reader. Often the emendations made accord with the 1611 and 1617 folio 
editions, particularly where these editions have disregarded the octavo's at- 

256 Textual Notes 

tempts to punctuate metrically. Other variants in accidentals between editions 
have not been registered. 

The modem practice in the use of I / s, W / W and ligatures has been 
adopted. The same modem practice has been observed when quoting from all 
printed works. Abbreviations (ampersand and tilde), which occur in the octavo 
edition only to compress a line which would otherwise have been crowded off, 
have been silently expanded. Italics have been preserved. Catchwords have been 
omitted. Faulty spacing and turned and wrong-font letters have been corrected. 


Entry in Stationers' Register: xix° die Nouembris (1594) William Ponsonby. 
Entred for his Copie vnder thandes of the Wardens, A booke entituled Amor- 

etti and Epithalamion written not longe since by Edmund Spencer 


Title Page: AMORETTl / AND / Epithalamion. / Written not long since / 
by Edmunde / Spenser. Device (Mackerrow 278, ut infra) Printed for William / 
Ponsonby. 1595. 

Colophon: Imprinted by P. S. for Wil- 1 liam Ponsonby. 

Collation: Octavo, but on cut-down sheets. A-H in eights, with a half-sheet 
of 4 leaves signed i between Al and A2. Of 68 leaves unnumbered. 

Contents: AV Title-page. AV^ The Epistle Dedicatory. ^2^ 
blank. 13^ G: W. senior, to the Author. ^3" blank. 14' G. W. I Ito the Author). 
14^ blank. A2'-F6' Sonnets I-LXXXIX. F6^-G2' Untitled [Anacreontic verses]. 
02" blank. G3' Title-page: Epithalamion. Device (ut infra). G4'-H7'' Epithalami- 
on. H8' Colophon. H8^ blank. 

One sonnet and one stanza of Epithalamion per page. The top and bottom of 
each page is adorned with an ornamental band. TTie top band is a line of 9 
pieces of sickle pattern set symmetrically but in no regularly consistent pattern. 
The bottom band is an intricate arrangement of 16 sections of sickle pattern, set 
in fours in a line and generally set pied. 

Device: (40.5 x 35 mm.) The device is framed by the motto, "ET VSQVE 
AD NVBES VERITAS TVA." which is taken from Psalm 57. 11 and replicates 
Psalm 36.5, "Et Veritas tua usque ad nubes" {"arui thy faithfulnes [6 Lord, 
reacheth] vnto the cloudes" [Coverdale and Geneva versions].). The device 
comprises a bell and a hand reaching down from the clouds which upholds a 
dove. The dove in turn trails from its beak bands from which hang an opened 
book surrounded by the sun's rays. Below, the initials P. S. for Peter Short 
(master-printer 1589-1603). 

Catchivords: on every page except 12-4 and C8'. The following differ from 
the first words of the following page: A4'' Faire] Fayre; A8' Retume] Retoume; 
A8^ In] Ye; B8^ See] Ah; C8^ Thrust] Trust; G8' Lacking] Lackyng; HI' 
Behould] Behold. 

Copies examined: British Library, formes C°, C, H' uncorrected. Bodltian, Oxford, 
lacks ritlc page Al, 11-4, A8, HI, H8; formes O, H' uncorrected. Edinburgh 
University Library formes 1°, B°, B', H' uncorrected; Folger Shakespeare Library 

Textual Notes 257 

forme H' uncorrected. Huntington Library forme H' uncorrected. Harry Ransom 
Humanities Research Centre, University of Texas (Pforzheimer) formes E°, H' 
uncorrected. John Rylarxds Library, Manchester formes A°, A', B°, B', O, D°, D' 
contain frequent instances where the ink hasn't taken or where (particularly 
sheet D) the text has been inked in; forme H' uncorrected. Trinity College, 
Cambridge (Capell 18) lacks 11-4; forme H' uncorrected. Wrenn Library, Univer' 
sity of Texas. 

THE / FAERIE QUEEN: / THE / Shepheards Calendar: / Together I WITH 
THE OTHER / Works of England's Arch-Poet, / EDM. SPENSER: / 1 Collected 
into one Volume, and I carefully corrected. I Printed By H. L. for Mathew Lownes. 
I Anno Dom. 1611. 

With its title: AMORETTI / AND / EPITHALAMION. / Written by 
Edmurule Spenser. Device. AT LONDON / Printed by H. L. for Mathew Lownes. 

THE / FAERIE QUEEN: / THE / Shepheards Calendar: / Together I WITH 
THE OTHER / Works of England's Arch-Poet, / EDM. SPENSER: / 1 Collected 
into one Volume, and I carefully corrected. I Printed By H. L. for Mathew Lownes. 
I Anno Dom. 1617. 

With its title: AMORETTI / AND / EPITHALAMION. / Written by 
Edmunde Spenser. Device. AT LONDON / Printed by H, L. for Mathew Lownes. 

Textual Notes 

The following symbols relating to textual matters appear below. 

] The reading to the left of the bracket is that of all witnesses not 

mentioned to the right of the bracket. 
■* A caret indicates the absence of punctuation. 
'^ A wavy dash replaces a word where punctuation alone differs. 


Al senior: '^, 8°F12 II 5 landes] lande 8°(Edinburgh)Fl2 II 11 neighboures] 

neighoures8° II 14 reede.j '^, 8'' 
A2 1 plaine,] ~. 8° II 2 roundelaies] roudelaies 8° II 3 mine] ^, 8°F12 II 4 

daies:] ~. 8" II 6 quiU,] ^. 8° II 8 skiU,] '^. 8°: ^: Fl II 12 meede.] '^, 

F2 II Signature G. W. I.) G. W. I. F12 

I. 2 dead doing] dead-doing F12 // 9 brooke: ^, 8''F12 

II. 6 brood:] ~. 8° (Rykinds) 

III. 13 write] ^, 8'' 

V. 14 pride?: '^. 8''F12 

VI. 1 mind] '^,8° II 9 desire: ^, 8°F12 

258 Textual Notes 

VII. 7 askew,] ^, 8° 

VIII. 5 guest] '^, 8° II 6 wound?: '^: 8°F12 

IX. 4 th' ymage] th ymage 8° (Rylands) 

X. 2 be?] '^t S'' II 7 brings] bring F2 

XI. 3 addresse] ^, 8° II 8 vnpittied] vnpitteid 8° II 11 turmoyle,] -^ ^ 8*' 

XII. 9 t' abide] t abide 8" (R^Iaruis) II 12 me Icept] Icept me FI2 

XIII. 5 majesty.] '~, 8° II 6 borne,] '^: 8° 
XIIII. 6 forts which] forces, FI2 

XV. 1 toyle: '^, 8°F12 II 3 treasures] treasure FI2 II 10 weene;] ~, 8° (Ry 
lands) II 12 sheene,] -^i FI2 

XVI. 3 amaze] a maze FI2 II 4 delight,: '^. 8": ^; F12 II 11 when] whe F2 

XVII. 6 guide] '^: 8" II 7 worlcmanship] wormanship 8" 

XVIII. 10 sayes teares] sayes, Teares F12 II 11 sayes] '^, FI2 II 12 waile,] '^ 

XX. 2 humbled] humble F12 

XXI. 1-4 Art, . . . face, . . . grace?] Art? . . . face: . . . grace. 8° II 4 t' adome] 
t adome 8° (Rylands) II 6 loues] loue F12 II 7 countenance] count'nance 
F12 II 8 impure.] ^, 8''Fl 

XXIII. 4 vnreaue:] ^, 8° 

XXIIII. 2 goodly] godly F2 II 8 see,: '^. 8": '^; F12 

XXV. 2 mysery?] '^: 8° II 9 hide] ~, 8° 

XXVI. 14 gaine?] '^. 8''FI: againe. 8° (Edinburgh) 

XXVIII. 2 giues] guies 8° II 8 attyre.] ~ - 8° (punctuation crowded off) II 10 
flee] flie 8°Fl 

XXIX. 1 damzell] damozell 8° (Edinburgh) II 5 bay (quoth she)] bay, quoth she, 

XXX. 12 deuyse?] '^. 8° 

XXXI. 1 1 bath] ^, 8" 

XXXII. 9 fit,] ~: 8° 

XXXIII. 3 faery] faery 8° (R^kmis) II 6 it: '^, 8<'FI2 II 9 wit: '^: 8°; ~? Fh 
~, F2 II 10 toyle?] ^, 8''Fl II 11 sins] sith FJ2 II fit: ^, 8''FI2 

XXXIIII. 1 wyde: '~, 8''FI2 II 2 way] ^. 8° II 3 guyde,] ^. 8° 11 4 astray:] 
^. 8" II 5 ray: '^, 8"FI2 II 12 griefe.] ~, 8° 

XXXV. 1 couetize: ^, 8*'F12 II 6 hauing 8° (Sonnet 35): seeing 8° (Sonnet 83) 
II 8 poore.] '^ * 8° (punctuation crowded off) 

XXXVI. 4 release?: '^. 8°Fi2 II 8 miseryes?] '^. S^Fl II 10 gayned]^: 8": '^, 

XXXVII. 1 tresses] ^, II 7 enfold] '^, 8" 

XXXVIII. 2 into] in to F2 II 4 allur'd] allu'rd 8° II 6 skill: '^, 8°FI2 

XXXIX. 6 sadnesse,] '^: 8" II 8 hart robbing] hart-robbing FI2 II 9 Whylest] 
Whilst FI2 II 12meat:^, 8''FI2 

XL. 3 eyelid] eye-lid F12 | appeare] '^, 8° II 6 sunshine] sun-shine F2 II 8 
ray:] ^ * 8" (punctuation crowded off) II 10 fled,] '^: 8° II 13 storme 
beaten] storme-beatenFI2 | cheared: '^, 8°F 1 2 II 14 sunshine] sun-shine 
XLI. 2 foe?) ^: 8" II 8 her] Wer F2 II 9 boast: ^, 8°FI2 
XLIl. 8 hart;] ^ - 8" II 12 his] in FI2 II 13 from] fron. 8" (British Library) 

Textual Notes 259 

XLIII. 12 loue learned] loue-leamed FI2 

XLIIII. 2 amongst] among F12 I 7 whilest] whilst F12 \ arre,] ^. 8° II 11/12 

awake, to battaile] awake to battaile, F12 
XLV. 5 shew] '^, 8" 
XLVI. 2 my way] away F12 I 5 obay?] ^, 8" II 11 she: ^, S'^FH II 13 sus- 

taine] ^, 8" 
XL VII. 5 guyde] '^, 8° 
XL VIII. 1 hand] ^, 8° II 1 the anguish) th'anguish 8° II 11 complayned,] '^ 

XLIX. 10 kill] '^, 8« II 12 too] to F12 II 13 admyred] admyr'd FI2 
L. 2 griefe: greife: 8°: greife. 8° (Rylands): griefe, FI2 II 5 man (quod I)] man, 

quoth I, F12 I priefe: ~: 8° : '^, F12 II 8 please?] '^. 8° II 9 appease] ^, 

LII. 2 field,] -^r 8" II 9 vaine: ^, 8°F12 II 11 disdayne] ~, 8" 
LIII. 1 hyde] '^, 8" II 4 whylest] whilst FI2 II 6 semblant] semblance FI2 

hew,] ^: 8° 
Lllll. 1 worlds] wolds Fl: world F2 
LV. 5 heauenly] heu'nly FJ2 II 6 fyre] fyWe 8° (Rylands inked in) II 12 mind] 

loue FJ2 I rest.] ^: 8" 
LVl. 7 finding] findinfs] 8" (Rylands inkea in) II 8 beats on] beafts o]n 8° 

(Rylands inked in) 
LVII. 3 lenger] longer FJ2 II 7 through launched] through-launced F12 II 8 

eies haue] eiefs h]aue 8° (Rylands inked in) II 10 stoures.] '^, 8° II 13 

grace,] ~. 8° 
LVIII. 1 reposeth] '~, 8" II 3 supposeth] '^, 8" II 7 prayd: ^, 8°FI2 II 8 

glories] gllori]es 8" (Rylands inked in): glorious FI2 II 14 arre?] ~. 8''FJ 
LIX. 1 assured] assur'd F12 II 3 allured] allur'd F12 II 5 ship,] ^- 8" II 8 

delight] deli[gh]t 8° (Rylands inked in) II 9 spight] spight, 8°: spigh[ht], 8° 

(Rylands inked in) II 13 assured] assur'd F12 
LX. 4 spheare.] '^^ 8° (punctuation crowded off) 
LXI. 3 dewtie: ^, 8°F12 II 11 scome] ~, 8° 

LXII. 6 amend:] '^^ 8° (punctuation crowded off): '^, FI2 II 9 send] '^, 8° 
LXIII. 4 sore:] '^. 8° II 6 arriue:] ~, 8° II 9 atchyue] '^, 8''FI II 11 depriue] 

^, 8° 
LXIIII. 12 lessemynes:] '^, 8" 
LXV. 1 vaine,] '^^ 8" (puru:tuation crowded off) II 12 wound:] woud * 8" (punc- 

tuation crowded off) 
LXVI. 2 thrown,] ~: 8'' II 8 state?] '~. 8° II 13 enlumind] enlumin'd FJ: 

enlightned F2 
LXVII. 2 escapt away] escape away FI2 II 4 pray,: '^. 8°: '~: FJ2 II 12 good- 
will] good will F12 
LXVlll. 1 day: ~, 8°FJ2 II 3 away] ^, 8° II 4 win:] ^. 8" II 6 thou] tbou 

8° II 8 felicitie:] ^. 8° 
LXIX. 8 chastity?] ^. 8°F1 
LXX. 2 cote armour] coat-armour F 12 | displayd] '^, 8° II 4 arrayd:: ^. 8°Fl: 

^', F2 II 9 make: '^, 8"F12 II 11 make: '^. 8°F12 II 13 whilest] whilst 

LXXI. 3 lurke] ^, 8« I 9 aboue: about 8''FI2 I 13 see,] ^. 8" 

260 Textual Notes 

LXXIII. 2 tye,: '^: 8°F12 

LXXIIII. 8 richesse] riches F12 

LXXV. 2 a way] away F12 II 6 immortalize,] ~. 8° II 9 (quod I)] quoth I, F12 

I deuize] '^, 8° II 11 name,: ^. 8°F12 II 12 whenas] when as F12 
LXXVI. 1 richest] riches F12 II 4 spright:: ^. 8°: ^■, F12 

LXXVII. 3 entertayne] ^, 8° II 4 roialty?: '^. 8°FI2 II 5 ly] ^, 8° II 11 
paradice] '^, F2 II 12 by Loue (indented)] By loue 8° (not indented to enable 
turnover of line 14' s "fedd") II 13 spredd] speedd 8° (P/onheimer) 

LXXVIII. 7 her can] can her F12 II 8 aspect.:, 8«: '^; F12 II 14 mee.] ^: 8° 

LXXX. 2 compile,] '^^ 8° (punctuation crowded off) 

LXXXI. 4 does] doth F12 II 9 display] ^, 8°Fl II 12 spright:] ~, 8° 

LXXXII. 11 spent: '^, 8''FI2 

LXXXIII. 1 couetize: '^, 8°F12 II 4 complayne.] '^ - 8° II 6 seeing 8" 
(Sonnet 83): hauing 8° (Sonnet 35) 

LXXXIIII. 3 desyre: '^: 8°: '^, F12 II 6 sprites,] '^^ 8° (punctuation crowded off) 

II 8 angelick]Angel-lilce F12 

LXXXV. 3 does] doth FI2 II 13 thunder,] ^^ 8° (punctuation crowded off) 
LXXXVI. 4 well,: '^. 8°: ~; FI2 II 13 reward,] '^. 8" 
LXXXVII. 3 moue] '^, 8° 

LXXXVIII. 9 the Idaea] th' Idaea 8° II 13 whylest] whylst F12 
LXXXIX. 1 bough: ^, 8°F12 II 3 vow] vew 8° II 4 late,: ~. 8": '~; FJ2 II 
8 doue:] ~^ 8° (punctuation crowded off) II 9 houe: ^, 8''FI2 

[Anacreontic Verses]. 1 old,] '^. 8° II 2 blynd] blinded F12 II 18 shame] ^: 
8° II 20 other.] ^, 8°F2 II 30 withall?] '^. 8" II 49 alasse (he cryde)] 
alas, he cride, F12 II 57 quod] quoth F12 II 73 recured] '^, 8° II 75 
enured] ^, 8° II 81 please] '^, 8° 

Epithaiamion. 6 prayse,: ~. 8°: '^; F12 II 11 dreriment,: '~. 8°: '^: FJ2 II 13 
girland] girlands F12 II 19 lampe] ^, 8'' II 22 lusty hed] lustiehead F12 
II 24 turtle doue] Turtle-doue, F12 II 34 whylest] whilst FI2 II 41 hand] 
'^, 8° II 44 trueloue wize] true-loue wise, Fl: true-loue-wise, F2 II 49 
wrong,] ^- 8° II 61 take,] ^. 8° II 67 dere: dore 8°FI2 II 70 neer,] ^^ 
8° (punctuation crowded off) II 81 replyes] replie FI2 II 88 loueleamed] 
loue-leamed F12 II 89 among?: '^. 8°: ^: F12 II 92 dreames: dreame 
8°FI2 II 109 ring.] '^^ 8° (punctuation crowded off) II 116 see.] ^^ 8° II 
118 lifuU] life-full FJ 2 II 129 aloud] -^^ 8" II 155 a tweene] atweeneFI2 
i 158 Queene.] ^, 8° II 168 before?] '^^ 8° II 184 ring?: ~- 8° (punctu- 
ation crowded off): '^. F12 II 185 ye] you F2 II 192 womanhed: woman- 
hood 8''FJ2 II 209 you.] '~, 8" II 211 vew:] ~, 8° II 213 come 8° 
(Edinburgh Pforzheimer Trinity Wren): com e 8° (British Library Folger Hunting' 
ton Rylands) II 214 faces;] ^-8° II 215 may] ~, 8° II 218 play] '^; 8": 
^, Fl II 220 throates) '^. 8° II 222 ring.] '^^ 8° (punctuation crowded off) 
II 229 th" Angels] the Angels FI2 II 234 fastened) fast'ned FI2 II 237 vn- 
sownd.) ~, 8" II 239 band?) '^, 8": ~. Fl II 241 ring.) ^- 8° (punctua- 
tion crowded off) II 248 liue long] liue-long F2 II 249 is.] ^, "8''F1 II 263 
yd you FI2 | downe] dovvne 8° II 272 weare:] '^. 8" (British Library) II 
278 weary) weary 8" II 280 How) How 8": How. 8" (Tu^or and Stuart) \ 

Textual Notes 261 

slowly] slowly 8° II 281 does) doth F12 II 290 through] through / o 8° 
(British Library) \ nights sad dread] nights dread 8° II 296 forepast;] '~, 8° 
(British Ubrary) II 297 is it,] it is * Fl 2 II 300 Now night 8" (British Uhrary 
Huntington Rylands Wren): The night 8° (Bodleian Edinburgh Folger Trinity 
Pforzheimer) II 304 couerlets.] ~, 8" II 310 brooke.] -^^ 8° II 314 ring.] 
^^■^ 8° (punctuation crowded off) II 324 dread] drad F12 II 332 yongmen] 
young men FI2 II 341 Pouke: Ponke 8°F12 II 343 hob Goblins] Hob- 
goblins FI2 II 345 shriech Oule] shriech-Owle FI2 II 351 none 8" (British 
Library Bodleian Folger Huntington Rylands Wren): 8° (Edinbur^ Pforz- 
heimer Trinity) II 356 poure 8° (Folger(?)): poiire 8° (inked over, British Library 
Bodleian Edinburgh Folger (I) Huntington Pforzheimer Trinity): ponre 8° (R31- 
lands Wren) \ your pleasant 8° (British Library Huntington Rylands Wren): the 
pleasant 8° (Bodleian Edinburgh Folger Pforzheimer Trinity) II 359 your bed 
8° (British Library Huntington Rylands Wren): the bed 8° (Bodleian Edinburgh 
Folger Pforzheimer Trinity) II 373 face, that] face which F12 | bright?] '"*^, 
8° II 380 Latmian 8° (British Library Huntington Rylands Wren): Latinian 8° 
(Bodleian Edinburgh Folger Pforzheimer Trinity) II 385 thy] they 8° II 399 
remaine: '^, 8*'FI2 II 401 delight] '^. 8" (British Library (?) Huntington) II 
411 clods,] '^: 8" 


The scripture readings and lessons prescribed by the 
Book of Common Prayer for 1594 with corresponding Sonnets' 


. Day 









23 January 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 110-13 

Hilary Term begins 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Genesis 44 
Matthew 21 
Psalm 114-15 
Genesis 45 
1 Corinthians 5 



24 January 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 116-18 
Genesis 46 
Matthew 22/23 
Psalm 119.1-32 
Genesis 47 
1 Corinthians 6 



25 January 


Acts 9.1-32 

Conversion of 


Matthew 19.27-30 

St. Paul 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalm 119.33-72 
Wisdom 5 
Acts 22.1-22 
Psalm 119.73-104 
Wisdom 6 
Acts 26 



26 January 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalm 119.105-44 
Genesis 48 
Matthew 23 
Psalm 119.145-76 
Genesis 49 
1 Corinthians 7 

' Earlier editions of the Book of Common Prayer still retained the older names of the 
Old Testament books, particularly 1-4 Kings. Only in later editions, for example that of 
1582 used here, were the new names employed, 1-2 Kings becoming 1-2 Samuel and 3-4 
Kings becoming 1-2 Kings. Both versions are given in the table below. 





27 January 


1 Corinthians 9.24-27 

Septuagesima Sun. 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Matthew 20.1-17 
Psalms 120-25 
Genesis 1 
Matthew 24 
Psalms 126-31 
Genesis 2 
1 Corinthians 8 



28 January 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 132-35 
Exodus 2 
Matthew 25 


Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalm 136-38 

Exodus 3 

1 Corinthians 9 



29 January 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 139-41 
Exodus 4 
Matthew 26 
Psalm 142-43 
Exodus 5 
1 Corinthians 10 



30 January 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 144-46 
Exodus 7 
Matthew 27 
Psalm 147-50 
Exodus 8 
1 Corinthians 11 



31 January 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 144-46 or 1-5 

Exodus 9 

Matthew 28 

Psalm 147-50 or 6-8 

Exodus 10 

1 Corinthians 12 



1 February 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 9-11 
Exodus 11 
Mark 1 
Psalms 12-14 
Exodus 12 
1 Corinthians 13 



2 February 


1 Corinthians 9.24-27 


Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Luke 2.22-27 
Psalms 15-17 
Wisdom 9 
Mark 2 
Psalm 18 
Wisdom 12 
1 Corinthians 14 



3 February 


2 Qmnthians 11.19-33 

Sexagcsima Sun. 

Morning Prayer 

Luke 8.4-16 
Psalms 19-21 



13. Mon. 4 February 

14. Tue. 5 February 

15. Wed. 6 February 

16. Thu. 7 February 

17. Fri. 

8 February 

18. Sat. 

9 February 

19. Sun. 

10 February 
Quinquagesima Sun. 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Genesis 3 
Mark 3 
Psalms 22-23 
Genesis 6 
1 Corinthians 15 

Psalms 24-26 
Exodus 15 
Mark 4 
Psalms 27-29 
Exodus 16 

1 Corinthians 16 

Psalms 30-31 
Exodus 17 
Mark 5 
Psalms 32-34 
Exodus 18 

2 Corinthians 1 

Psalms 35-36 
Exodus 19 
Mark 6 
Psalm 37 
Exodus 20 
2 Corinthians 2 

Psalms 38-40 
Exodus 21 
Psalms 41-43 
Exodus 22 
2 Corinthians 3 

Psalms 44-46 
Exodus 23 
Mark 8 
Psalms 47-49 
Exodus 24 
2 Corinthians 4 

Psalms 50-52 
Exodus 32 
Mark 9 
Psalms 53-55 
Exodus 33 
2 Corinthians 5 

1 Corinthians 13.1-13 
Luke 18.31-43 
Psalms 56-58 
Genesis 9 

Mark 10 
Psalms 59-61 
Genesis 12 

2 Corinthians 6 



20. Mon. 11 February 

21. Tue. 12 February 

22. Wed. 13 February 

Ash Wednesday 

23. Thu. 14 February 

24. Fri. 15 February 

25. Sat. 16 February 

26. Sun. 17 February 

First Sunday 
in Lent 

27. Mon. 18 February 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 62-64 
Leviticus 19 
Mark 1 1 
Psalms 65-67 
Leviticus 20 
2 Corinthians 7 

Psalm 68 
Leviticus 26 
Mark 12 
Psalms 69-70 
Numbers 1 1 
2 Corinthians 8 

Joel 2.12-18 
Matthew 6.16-22 
Psalms 71-72 
Numbers 12 
Mark 13 
Psalms 73-74 
Numbers 13 
2 Corinthians 9 

Psalms 75-77 
Numbers 14 
Mark 14 
Psalm 78 
Numbers 16 
2 Corinthians 10 

Psalms 79-81 
Numbers 17 
Mark 15 
Psalms 82-85 
Numbers 20 
2 Corinthians 11 

Psalms 86-88 
Numbers 21 
Mark 16 
Psalm 89 
Numbers 22 
2 Corinthians 12 

2 Corinthians 6.1-11 
Matthew 4.1-12 
Psalms 90-92 
Genesis 19 
Luke 1.1-39 
Psalms 93-94 
Genesis 22 
2 Corinthians 13 

Psalms 95-97 
Numbers 25 
Luke 1.40-80 



28. Tue. 19 February 

\. 29. Wed. 20 February 

30. TTiu. 21 February 

31. Fri. 22 February 

■ 32. Sat. 23 February 

33. Sun. 24 February 

2nd Sunday in Lent 
(St. Matthias 

(St. Matthias 

34. Mon. 

(St. Matthias 
25 February 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 98-101 

I Lesson 

Numbers 27 

II Lesson 

Galatians 1 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 102-103 

I Lesson 

Numbers 30 

II Lesson 

Luke 2 

Evening Prayer 

Psalm 104 

I Lesson 

Numbers 31 

II Lesson 

Galatians 2 

Morning Prayer 

Psalm 105 

I Lesson 

Numbers 32 

II Lesson 

Luke 3 

Evening Prayer 

Psalm 106 

I Lesson 

Numbers 35 

II Lesson 

Galatians 3 

Morning Prayer 

Psalm 107 

I Lesson 

Numbers 36 

II Lesson 

Luke 4 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 108-109 

I Lesson 

Deuteronomy 1 

II Lesson 

Galatians 4 

Morning Prayer 

Psalm 110-113 

I Lesson 

Deuteronomy 2 

II Lesson 

Luke 5 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 114-115 

I Lesson 

Deuteronomy 3 

II Lesson 

Galatians 5 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 116-118 

I Lesson 

Deuteronomy 4 

II Lesson 

Luke 6 

Evening Prayer 

Psalm 119.1-32 

I Lesson 

Deuteronomy 5 

II Lesson 

2 Corinthians 8 


1 Thessalonians 4.1-5 


Matthew 15.21-28 


Acts 1.15-26 


Matthew 11.25-30) 

Morning Prayer 

Psalm 119.33-72 

I Lesson 

Genesis 27 

I Lesson 

Wisdom 19) 

II Lesson 

Luke 7 

Evening Prayer 

Psalm 119.73-104 

1 Lesson 

Genesis 34 

1 Lesson 

Ecclesiastes 1) 

II Lesson 

Ephesians 1 

Morning Prayer 

Psalm 119.105-144 

1 Lesson 

Deuteronomy 6 

II Lesson 

Luke 8 



35. Tue. 26 February 

36. Wed. 27 February 

37. Thu. 28 February 

38. Fri. 1 March 

39. Sat. 2 March 

40. Sun. 3 March 

Third Sunday 
in Lent 

41. Mon. 4 March 

Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalm 119.145-76 
Deuteronomy 7 
Ephesians 2 

Psalms 120-125 
Deuteronomy 8 
Luke 9 

Psalms 126-131 
Deuteronomy 9 
Ephesians 3 

Psalms 132-135 
Deuteronomy 10 
Luke 10 
Psalms 136-138 
Deuteronomy 1 1 
Ephesians 4 

Psalms 139-141 
Deuteronomy 12 
Luke 11 

Psalms 142-143 
Deuteronomy 15 
Ephesians 5 

Psalms 144-146 
Deuteronomy 16 
Luke 12 
Psalms 147-150 
Deuteronomy 17 
Ephesians 6 

Psalms 1-5 
Deuteronomy 18 
Luke 13 
Psalms 6-8 
Deuteronomy 19 
Philippians 1 

Ephesians 5.1-15 
Luke 11.14-29 
Psalms 9-11 
Genesis 39 
Luke 14 
Psalms 12-14 
Genesis 42 
Philippians 2 

Psalms 15-17 
Deuteronomy 22 
Luke 15 
Psalm. 18 
Deuteronomy 24 
Philippians 3 



42. Tue. 5 March 

I 43. Wed. 6 March 

44. Thu. 

7 March 

45. Fri. 8 March 

46. Sat. 9 March 

47. Sun. 

10 March 
Fourth Sunday 
in Lent 

48. Mon. 11 March 


I 49. Tue. 

12 March 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

Psalms 19-21 
Deuteronomy 25 
Luke 16 
Psalms 22-23 
Deuteronomy 26 
Philippians 4 

Psalms 24-26 
Deuteronomy 27 
Luke 17 
Psalms 27-29 
Deuteronomy 28 
Colossians 1 

Psalms 30-31 
Deuteronomy 29 
Luke 18 
Psalms 32-34 
Deuteronomy 30 
Colossians 2 

Psalms 35-36 
Deuteronomy 31 
Luke 19 
Psalm 37 
Deuteronomy 32 
Colossians 3 

Psalms 38-40 
Deuteronomy 33 
Luke 20 
Psalms 41-43 
Deuteronomy 34 
Colossians 4 

Galatians 4.21-31 
John 6.1-15 
Psalms 44-46 
Genesis 43 
Luke 21 
Psalms 47-49 
Genesis 45 
1 TTiessalonians 1 

Psalms 50-52 

Joshua 3 

Luke 22 

Psalms 53-55 

Joshua 4 

1 Thessalonians 2 

Psalms 56-58 
Joshua 5 
Luke 23 
Psalms 59-61 



50. Wed. 

13 March 

51. Thu. 

14 March 

52. Fri. 

15 March 

53. Sat. 

16 March 

54. Sun. 

17 March 
Fifth Sunday 
in Lent 

55. Mon. 18 March 

56. Tue. 

19 March 

57. Wed. 20 March 

1 Lesson 

Joshua 6 

II Lesson 

1 Thessalonians 3 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 62-64 

I Lesson 

Joshua 7 

II Lesson 

Luke 24 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 65-67 

I Lesson 

Joshua 8 

II Lesson 

1 Thessalonians 4 

Morning Prayer 

Psalm 68 

I Lesson 

Joshua 9 

11 Lesson 

John 1 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 69-70 

I Lesson 

Joshua 9 

11 Lesson 

1 Thessalonians 5 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 71-72 

I Lesson 

Joshua 23 

11 Lesson 

John 2 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 73-74 

I Lesson 

Joshua 24 

11 Lesson 

2 Thessalonians 1 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 75-77 

I Lesson 

Judges 1 

11 Lesson 

John 3 

Evening Prayer 

Psalm 78 

1 Lesson 

Judges 2 

II Lesson 

2 Thessalonians 2 


Hebrews 9.11-16 


John 8.46-59 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 79-81 

I Lesson 

Exodus 3 

11 Lesson 

John 4 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 82-85 

1 Lesson 

Exodus 5 

II Lesson 

2 Thessalonians 3 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 86-88 

I Lesson 

Judges 5 

II Lesson 

John 5 

Evening Prayer 

Psalm 89 

I Lesson 

Judges 6 

II Lesson 

1 Timothy 1 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 90-92 

I Lesson 

Judges 7 

II Lesson 

John 6 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 93-94 

1 Lesson 

Judges 8 

11 Lesson 

1 Timothy 2 & 3 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 95-97 

I Lesson 

Judges 9 



II Lesson 

John 7 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 98-101 

I Lesson 

Judges 10 

II Lesson 

1 Timothy 4 



21 March 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 102-103 
Judges 11 
John 8 
Psalm 104 
Judges 12 
1 Timothy 5 



22 March 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalm 105 
Judges 13 
John 9 
Psalm 106 
Judges 14 
1 Timothy 6 




23 March 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalm 107 
Judges 15 
John 10 
Psalms 108-109 
Judges 16 
2 Timothy 1 



24 March 


Philippians 2.5-12 

Palm Sunday 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

Matthew 26.1-27.57 
Psalms 110-113 
Exodus 9 
John 11 
Psalms 114-115 


I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Exodus 10 
2 Timothy 2 



25 March 


Isaiah 63.1-19 



Mark 14.1-72 


before Easter 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 116-118 
Ecciesiastes 2 
John 12 
Psalm 119.1-32 
Ecciesiastes 3 
2 Timothy 3 




26 March 


Isaiah 50.5-11 


Tuesday before 


Mark 15.1-47 



Morning Prayer 
I Lesson 

Psalm 119.33-72 
Judges 19 


II Lesson 

John 13 

Evening Prayer 

Psalm 119.73-104 


I Lesson 

Judges 20 


II Lesson 

2 Timothy 4 



27 March 


Hebrews 9.16-28 

Wednesday before 


Luke 22.1-71 



Morning Prayer 

Psalm 119.105-144 



I Lesson 

Hosea 13 

II Lesson 

John 14 

Evening Prayer 

Psalm 119.145-76 

I Lesson 

Hosea 14 

II Lesson 

Titus 1 

65. Thu. 

28 March 


1 Corinthians 11.17-34 

TTiursday before 


Luke 23.1-56 


Morning Prayer 

Psalms 120-125 

I Lesson 

Daniel 9 

11 Lesson 

John 15 


Evening Prayer 

Psalms 126-131 


I Lesson 

Jeremiah 31 

11 Lesson 

Titus 2 & 3 

66. Fri. 

29 March 


Hebrews 10.1-25 

Good Friday 


John 18.1-19.42 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 132-135 

I Lesson 

Genesis 22 

II Lesson 

John 16 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 136-138 

I Lesson 

Isaiah 53 

II Lesson 

Philemon 1 

67. Sat. 

30 March 


1 Peter 3.17-22 

Holy Saturday 


Matthew 27.57-66 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 139-141 

I Lesson 

Zachariah 9 

II Lesson 

John 17 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 142-43 

I Lesson 

Exodus 13 

II Lesson 

Hebrews 1 

68. Sun. 

31 March 


Colossians 3.1-8 

Easter Sunday 


John 20.1-11 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 2, 57, 111 

I Lesson 

Exodus 12 

II Lesson 

Romans 6 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 113, 114, 118 

I Lesson 

Exodus 14 

II Lesson 

Acts 2 

69. Mon. 

1 April 


Acts 10.34-44 

Easter Monday 


Luke 24.13-36 

Morning Prayer 

Psalms 1-5 

1 Lesson 

Exodus 16 

11 Lesson 

Matthew 28 

Evening Prayer 

Psalms 6-8 

I Lesson 

Exodus 17 

II Lesson 

Acts 3 

70. Tue. 

2 April 


Isaiah 7.10-15 

Annunciation / 


Luke 1.26-38 

(Easter Tuesday 


Acts 13.26-42 


Luke 24.36-49) 



71. Wed. 

(Easter Tuesday 

(Easter Tuesday 
3 April 

72. Thu. 

4 April 

73. Fri. 

5 April 

74. Sat. 

6 April 

75. Sun. 

7 April 
Low Sunday 

Morning Prayer 
1 Lesson 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

1 Lesson 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 9-11 
Ecclesiastes 2 
Exodus 20 
Luke 24.1-12) 
Psalms 12-14 
Ecclesiastes 3 
Exodus 32 
1 Corinthians 15) 

Psalms 15-17 

1 Samuel (Kings) 10 

John 21 

Psalm 18 

1 Samuel (Kings) 11 

Hebrews 5 

Psalms 19-21 

1 Samuel (Kings) 12 

Acts 1 

Psalms 22-23 

1 Samuel (Kings) 13 

Hebrews 6 

Psalms 24-26 

1 Samuel (Kings) 14 

Acts 2 

Psalms 27-29 

1 Samuel (Kings) 15 

Hebrews 7 

Psalms 30-31 

1 Samuel (Kings) 16 

Acts 3 

Psalms 32-34 

1 Samuel (Kings) 17 

Hebrews 8 

1 John 5.4-13 
John 20.19-24 
Psalms 35-36 
Numbers 16 
Acts 4 
Psalm 37 
Numbers 22 
Hebrews 9 


76. Fri. 

3 May 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 15-17 
1 (3) Kings 1 1 
Matthew 1 
Psalm 18 
1 (3) Kings 12 
Romans 2 



77. Sat. 4 May 

78. Sun. 

80. Tue. 

81. Wed. 

5 May 

Fifth Sunday 
after Easter 

79. Mon. 6 May 

7 May 

8 May 

82. Thu- 

9 May 

Ascension Thursday 

83. Fri. 

10 May 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 19-21 
1 (3) Kings 13 
Matthew 2 
Psalms 22-23 
1 (3) Kings 14 
Romans 3 

James 1.22-27 
John 16.23-33 
Psalms 24-26 
Deuteronomy 8 
Matthew 3 
Psalms 27-29 
Deuteronomy 9 
Romans 4 
Psalms 103-104 

Psalms 30-31 
1 (3) Kings 17 
Matthew 4 
Psalms 32-34 
1 (3) Kings 18 
Romans 5 
Psalms 103-104 

Psalms 35-36 
1 (3) Kings 19 
Matthew 5 
Psalm 37 
1 (3) Kings 20 
Romans 6 

Psalms 38-40 
1 (3) Kings 21 
Matthew 6 
Psalms 41-43 

1 (3) Kings 22 
Romans 7 

Acts 1.1-12 
Mark 16.14-20 
Psalms 8, 15, 21 
Deuteronomy 10 
Matthew 7 
Psalms 24, 68, 108 

2 (4) Kings 2 
Romans 8 

Psalms 50-52 
2 (4) Kings 3 
Matthew 8 
Psalms 53-55 
2 (4) Kings 4 
Romans 9 



83. Sat. 

11 May 

84. Sun. 

12 May 
Expectation Sunday 

85. Mon. 13 May 

86. Tue. 14 May 

87. Wed. 15 May 

88. Thu. 16 May 

89. Fri. 

17 May 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Morning Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 
Evening Prayer 

I Lesson 

II Lesson 

Psalms 56-58 
2 (4) Kings 5 
Matthew 9 
Psalms 59-61 
2 (4) Kings 6 
Romans 10 

1 Peter 4.7-12 
John 15.26-16.4 
Psalms 62-64 
Deuteronomy 12 
Matthew 10 
Psalms 65-67 
Deuteronomy 13 
Romans 11 

Psalm 68 

2 (4) Kings 9 
Matthew 11 
Psalms 69-70 
2 (4) Kings 10 
Romans 12 

Psalms 71-72 
2 (4) Kings 1 1 
Matthew 12 
Psalms 73-74 
2 (4) Kings 12 
Romans 13 

Psalms 75-77 
2 (4) Kings 13 
Matthew 13 
Psalm 78 
2 (4) Kings 14 
Romans 14 

Psalms 79-81 
2 (4) Kings 15 
Matthew 14 
Psalms 82-85 
2 (4) Kings 16 
Romans 15 

Psalms 86-88 
2 (4) Kings 17 
Matthew 15 
Psalm 89 
2 (4) Kings 18 
Romans 16 

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Index to the Commentary 

This index makes no pretense to completion and is not a concordance, for 
which readers are referred to C. G. Osgood, A Concordance to the Poems of 
Edmund Spenser (Gloucester, 1963). It lists only those terms which are explicated 
in some detail. Scriptural references cited in the commentary are so numerous 
that listing them would serve little purpose; hence they are not indexed. The 
references are to Amoretti unless otherwise stated. 

abide, abode: 6.4; 12.9; 25.11; 46.1 

accidents: Epith. 429 

adamant: 42.10 

address: 11.3 

admire: 3.1 

afflicted: 2.11 

amaze, amazed, amazement: 3.7; 16.3; 

ambrosial: 39.13 
amiable: 40.1 
amerced: 70.12 
anthem: 19.6; Epith. Ill 
aread: 33.5 
argument: 82.13 
askew: 7.7 
aspire: 6.8 

assay, assayed: 14.8; 51.7 
assoil: 11.9; 80.7 
assuagement: 36.4 
assured, assurance: 42.11; 58.2; 59.1; 

59.9; Epith. 354 
astonished: 16.3; Epith. 189 
awhit: 32.6 
badge: 28.3 
bale: 2.2 

bands: 1.3; 37.12; 65.5 
bane: 42.4 
baser: 10.11 
battery: 14.10 

beguile, beguiled: 67.4; 67.14; 87.10 

beholding: 67.8 

belay: 14.6 

bellamour: 64.7 

belly M: Ef)it/i. 251 

bend: 49.8; 51.10; 59.12 

betokening: 62.4 

black book: 10.12 

blaze: 29.12 

bleeding: 1.8 

blend: 62.11 

blooded: 20.14 

boiling: 30.7 

boon: Epith. 124 

bom, borne: 8.14; 13.6; 61.6 

bosom: 76.1 

bound: 8.8 

bow: 10.11 

brasen: 65.13 

breadi: 80.4 

brood: 61.6 

brook: 35.10 

bnint: 12.9 

bush: 53.3 

buy: 68.11 

by: 58.1 

care, careful, careless: 1.14; 34.13; 70.5; 

cause: 48.3 


Index to the Commentary 

charm: 47-13 

clatter: 85.4 

close, closely: 1.8; 5.5; 12.7; 16.9; 

25.10; Ana. 33 
closet: 85.9 
coat armour: 70.2 
cockatrice: 49.10 
columbine: 64.10 
comb: 86.3 
compassed: 62.2 
compile: 80.2 
complain, complained, complaints: 

12.13; 48.11; Epith. 12 
comptroU: 10.10 
conceive: 43.14 
conduct: 34.2 
conquest: 29.9; 69.7 
consent: Epith. 83 
construe: 43.14 
continuance: 18.4 
cordial: 50.12 
courage: Ana. 32 
course: 30.14; 60.1; 62.2 
covert: 12.7 
credit: 79.1 
croud: Epith. 131 
crystal: 9.11 
cuckoo: 19.1; 85.3 
culver: 89.1 
cunning: Ana. 3 
dainty: 38.6; 63.8 
dart: 4.8; 8.5-6; 16.4-8; 17.9; 24-7; 

39.1-4; 57.8 
dead doing: 1.2 
dear/deer: 66.7; 68.7 
decay: 38.10 
deceive: 23.3 
deep: 43.13; 50.6 
deface: 31.4 
deformed: 45.9 
degree: Epith. 267 
delayed: 30.6 
depart: 59.7 
depending: 25.4 
deprave: 29.1; 31.3 
derived: 74.6 
descant: Epith. 81 
descent: 74.6 
desert: 85.8 
designed: 74.2 

despoiled: 52.4 

devized: 18.6; 23.2 

diapered: Epith. 51 

dimmed: 45.9 

dint: 6.11 

direct: 34.6 

disarmed: 12.5 

discord: 65.8 

disdain: 5.6 

disgrace: Epith. 120 

disguising: 54.4 

dismayed: 6.1; 14.1 

disparagement: 66.3 

divide: 6.7 

divinely: 61.5 

diving: 76.7 

doleflil: Epith. 334 

drawn-work: 71.1 

dreary: 52.11 

dress: 37.3 

drizzling: 18.3 

dross, drossy: 13.12; 27.2 

dumpish: 4.4 

dureful: 6.5 

ease: 50.11 

eglantine: 26.3; 71.10 

embase: 13.3 

embrew: 31.12; 53.11 

emprise: 69.4 

enchased: 82.7 

endite: 3.14 

endure: 25.1; 51.3 

enfold: 37.7 

engine: 14.12 

enlarge: 33.4; Epith. 384 

enlumined: 66.13 

enrol, enrolled: 10.12; 69.3 

ensuing: 60.14 

entertain: 4.14; 12.2; 68.12 

entire 6.1 1 

equal: 82.5 

extremities: 36.9 

fain: 87.10; Epith. 414 

fancy: 3.12; 78.12 

fashion: 8.9 

feature: 21.2 

fell: 11.7; 86.2 

felly: 56.4 

fit: 22.1; 32.9; 33.11; 54.5; 66.6 

flattering: 47.5 

Index to the Commentary 


floor: 20.4 

fondly, fondness: 37.13; 65.2 
forces: 14.1 
foredone: 80.3 
forelock: 70.8 
forlorn: 13.11; 87.7 
fort: 14.6 
frame: 8.9; 74.1 
fraught: 63.7; 76.1 
fray: 53.2 
freewill: 10.4 
fury, Furies: 85.11; 86.2 
gall: 43.4 
garland: 19.4 
generation: Epith. 384 
genial: Epith. 399 
gentle: 6.10; 71.14 
gillyflower: 64.5 
glancing: 16.5 
glass: 9.12; 45.1 

gloom, glooming: 62.10; Epith. 285 
gotten: 69.14 

grace, graceful: 64.1; Epith. 3 
groom: Epith. 329 
guerdon: Epith. 421 
guile, guileful: 37.1; 47.2 
happy: 1.1; 74.1 
harbour: 76.4 
hard, harder: 6.4; 31.1 
hardly: 16.14 
hardy: 14.7 
harms: Epith. 340 
harrowed: 68.3 
hasty: Epith. 429 
haughty: 14.7; 55.11; Epith. 420 
heart / hart: 10.9; 72.13 
heart-thrilling: 12.1 
heavenly: 61.6; 80.11 
heed: Epith. 56 
helice: 34.10 
helpless: Epith. 340 
herald: 70.1 
high: 55.5 
hire: 48.5 
hold: 46.10 
hollow: Epith. 220 
hostage: 1 1.2 
hove: 89.9 

hue: 3.8; 7.5; 31.9; 45.7; 53.6; 55.12; 

humbled, humility: 10.7; Epith. 306 

idly: 54.2; 78.10 

illusion: 16.4 

imperious: 49.6 

implied: 5.5 

importune: 23.6 

incline, inclined: 22.2; 28.4; Epith. 385 

inform: Epith. 386 

infusion: 28.7 

innocent: 48.1 

insight: 76.7 

inure, inured: 14.7; 21.9 

invent: 60.9; 82.6 

io: Epith. 140 

iron: 32.3 

jasmine: 64.12 

jot: 57.6 

junkets: 77.3 

kind: 6.3; 30.14; 74.5 

kindled, kindling: 3.3; 6.6; 8.2; 30.12 

knot: 6.14 

knowen: 52.4 

labour: Epith. 316, 383 

lamping: 1.6 

lanced: 57.7 

languor, languish, languishing: 36.3; 

50.1; 50.10; 52.8; Ana. 81 
late: 14.1 
laud: Epith. 145 
league: 65.10 
leaves: 1.1 
leech: 50.13 
legions: 16.6 
licentious: 10.3 
light: 55.7 
lilly: 1.1 
list: 32.4 
lot: 80.2 
lovely: 7.5; 28.9; 31.9; 34.12; 47.10; 

70.10; 76.5 
love learned: 43.12 
love pined: 2.2 
lower: 46.8 

lusty, lusty head: 4.9; Epith. 22 
madness: 39.9 
manifold: 30.8 

mantle, mantleth: 4.12; 72.10 
mark: 40.1 
mask: 54.6; Epidi. 26 
matchable: 66.7 


Index to the Commentary 

mate, make: 66.6; 70.11; Epith. 87 

matins: Epith. 80 

matter: 48.2 

mavis: 85.3; Epith. 81 

mazed, mazeful: 7.1; Epith. 190 

meed: 25.14 

mention: 27.10 

mew: 80.9 

mighty: 49.3 

milder: 67.9 

mile: 87.12 

minute: 87.12 

misconceived: Epith. 337 

misdeem: 65.1 

misintended: 16.12 

mollify: 32.2 

monument: 69.10; 82.8 

mood: 2.11 

mould: 55.3 

nought: 6.1 

ne: 51.4 

nectar: 39.13 

net: 37.2 

noyous: 87.6 

nut: 26.6 

oak: 6.5 

ordained: 48.6 

ornament: 31.4 

ought: 22.2; 68.13 

outworn: 87.2 

ouzel: Epith. 82 

owl: Epith. 345 

pageant: 54.3 

pain, pained, painful: 10.14; 11.13; 

32.1; 35.2; 48.8 
paper: 48.1 
paps: 76.9 
paragon: 66.5 
patronize: Epith. 391 
pencil: 17-4 
peer: 44.1 
persevere: 9.9 
piece: 14.4 
pill: 26.6 
pink: 64.8 
pipe: Epith. 131 
pitch: 80.12 
plain: 88,9; Epith. 356 
plaints: 32.3 
play: Epith. 368 

pledge: 42.8 

pompous: 77.4 

power: 8.3 

port, portliness, portly: 5.2; 5.9; 13.1; 

Epith. 148 
pour: Epith. 356 
powers: Epith. 413 
precept: 19.11 
prefixed: 46.1 

pricketh, pricked: 26.3; Ana. 59 
prief: 50.5 
prime: 70.13 
privily: Epith. 379 
protract: 87.4 

proud, proudly: 19.11; Epith. 306 
purchase: 69.13 
quill: 85.10 
rain: 46.14 

rare: 24.2; 55.7; 69.12; 75.11 
raven: Epith. 346 
ravished: 39.10 
read: Epith. 189 
rear: 13.2 
records: 69.3 
recure: 21.11 
redound: 18.3 
reflex: 66.14 
regard: 49.12 
religion: Epith. 392 
remove: 71.8 
repulse: 14.4 
requite: 48.14 
resemble: 9.4 
respite: 11.6 
rest: 59.13 
rhymes: 1.9; Epith. 3 
rigorous: 12.11 
root: 26.8 
mdely: 5.5; 33.8 
ruinate: 56.8 
nith: 11.5 
sad: Epith. 234 
scourge: 24.8 
semblant: 45.4; 53.6 
servile: 73.2 
short: 60.13; Epith. 433 
shroud: 27.3 
signed: 78.5 
silly: 20.8; 63.4 
simple: 29.2; 65.11; Epith. 124 

Index to the Commentary 


sithens: 2.3 

skill: 38.5; 41.4; 44.8 

slime: 13.12 

smile, smiling: 39.1; 47.1 

smith: 32.1 

smock: Amx. 64 

snatches: Epith. 362 

solemnize: Epith. 393 

soil: 63.7 

sorted: 66.10 

spark: 5.14 

spell: 43.13 

spend: 36.3 

spill: 17.7; 23.11; 38.11; 49.4 

sport: 10.14; 80.10 

spray: 40.9 

start: 42.9 

stay: 59.11; Epith. 430 

steadfast: 59.11 

steel and flint: 18.14 

still: 3.7; 9.9 

stint: 44.8 

stock: 43.8 

stop, stopped: 3.10; 8.10 

stork: Epith. 345 

stours: 57.10 

straight: 12.11; 46.2 

strait: 71.7 

strand: 75.1 

stupid: 43.8 

subtle: 23.5 

sue: 11.1; 57.3 

sundry: 60.2 

surcease: 11.14 

sweat: 30.7; Epith. 254 

table: 77.2 

taed: Epith. 27 

tempered, temperature: 13.4; 21.2 

term: 12.2; 25.3; 87.11 

theatre: 54.1 

thralled: 71.6 

thrilling: 12.1; 36.3 

thrown: 66.2 

thundering: 39.4 

timely: 4.9; 57.13; 62.12; Epith. 355, 

386. 404, 
title: 3.11 

toil: 11.6; 69.14; 80.5 
tormented: 10.2 
tower: Epith. 68 

tract: 18.2 

trade: 51.5; 74.1 

train: 21.13; 47.2 

trembling: 67.11; Epith. 131, 210 

tresses: 37.1 

tried: 5.13; 25.8 

triumph: Epith. 243 

trophy: 69.2 

trump: 29.12 

tnie, tmth: 11.2; 65.11; Epith. 353 

tuneless: 44.9 

twincle: 16.11 

uncrudded: Epith. 175 

unreave: 23.4 

unstayed: 58.6 

unwarily: 16.1 

unquiet: 2.1 

unrighteous: 10.1 

untrained: 51.5 

unwares: 24.6 

upbrought: 61.7 

usury: Epith. 33 

vain: 35.7 

viper: 2.6 ^ 

virtue: 7.2; 39.5 

visnomy: 45.11 

wandering: 42.11 

wanton: 4.8 

web: 23.3 

well: Ana. 69 

wind: 23.14 

wishftil: 89.3; Epith. 385 

wit: 43.13; 82.7 

vow: 14.11; Epith. 385 

warrayed: 44.7 

weighing: 68.9 

won: 6.4 

woodbine: 71.10 

worthily: 68.9 

waxed, woxen: 2.4; Ana. 1 

wrack: 46.12 

wrought: 61.5 

wuU: Epith. 252 

yield: 11.10 

Amoretti: Index of First Lines 

After long stormes and tempests sad assay 63 

After so long a race as I haue run 80 

Ah why hath nature to so hard a hart 31 

Arion, when through tempests cruel wracke 38 

Being my selfe captyued here in care 73 

Be nought dismayd that her vnmoued mind 6 

Comming to kisse her lyps, (such grace I found) 64 

Dayly when I doe seek and sew for peace 11 

Doe I not see that fayrest ymages 51 

Faire proud now tell me why should faire be proud 27 

Fayre bosome fraught with vertues richest tresure 76 

Fayre cruell, why are ye so fierce and cruell 49 

Fayre eyes, the myrrour of my mazed hart 7 

Fayre is my loue, when her fayre golden heares 81 

Fayre ye be sure, but cruell and vnkind 56 

Fresh spring the heralds of loues mighty king 70 

Great wrong I doe, I can it not deny 33 

Happy ye leaues when as those lilly hands 1 

How long shall this lyke dying lyfe endure 25 

I ioy to see how in your drawen work 71 

loy of my life, full oft for louing you 82 

In that proud port, which her so goodly graceth 13 

Innocent paper, whom too cruell hand 48 

In vaine I seeke and sew to her for grace 20 

Is it her nature or is it her will 41 

Lackyng my loue I go from place to place 78 

Leaue lady in your glasse of christall clene 45 

Let not one sparke of filthy lustfull fyre 84 

Long languishing in double malady 50 

Long-while I sought to what I might compare 9 

Lyke as a huntsman after weary chace 67 

Lyke as a ship that through the Ocean wyde 34 

Lyke as the Culuer on the bared bough 89 

Mark when she smiles with amiable cheare , 40 

Men call you fayre, and you doe credit it 79 

More than most faire, full of the liuing fire 8 

Most glorious Lord of lyfe, that on this day 68 

Most nappy letters fram'd by skilful! trade 74 

Index of First Lines 291 

My hungry eyes through greedy couetize 35/83 

My loue is lyke to yse, and I to fyre 30 

New Yeare forth looking out of lanus gate 4 

Of this worlds Theatre in which we stay 54 

Oft when my spirit doth spred her bolder winges 72 

One day I sought with her hart-thrilling eies 12 

One day as I vnwarily did gaze 16 

One day I wrote her name vpon the strand 75 

Penelope for her Vlisses sake 23 

Retourne agayne my forces late dismayd 14 

Rudely thou wrongest my deare harts desire 5 

See how the stubborne damzell doth depraue 29 

Shall I then silent be or shall I speake 43 

Since I did leaue the presence of my loue 87 

Since I haue lackt the comfort of that light 88 

So oft as homeward I from her depart 52 

So oft as I her beauty doe behold 55 

Sweet is the Rose, but growes vpon a brere 26 

Sweet smile, the daughter of the Queene of loue 39 

Sweet warriour when shall I haue peace with you 57 

Tell me when shall these wearie woes haue end 36 

The doubt which ye misdeeme, fayre loue, is vaine 65 

The famous warriors of the anticke world 69 

The glorious image of the makers beautie 61 

The glorious pourtraict of that Angels face 17 

The laurell leafe, which you this day doe weare 28 

The loue which me so cruelly tormenteth 42 

The merry Cuckow, messenger of Spring 19 

The Panther knowing that his spotted hyde 53 

The paynefull smith with force of feruent heat 32 

The rolling wheele that runneth often round 18 

The souerayne beauty which 1 doo admyre 3 

The weary yeare his race now hauing run 62 

The world cannot deeme of worthy things 85 

They that in course o{ heauenly spheares are skild 60 

This holy season fit to fast and pray 22 

Thrise happie she, that is so well assured 59 

To all those happy blessings which ye haue 66 

Trust not the treason of those smyling lookes 47 

Vnquiet thought, whom at the first I bred 2 

Vnrighteous Lord of loue, what law is this 10 

Venemous toung, tipt with vile adders sting 86 

Was it a dreame, or did I see it playne 77 

Was it the worke of nature or of Art 2 1 

Weake is th' assurance that weake flesh reposeth 58 

What guyle is this, that those her golden tresses 37 

When I behold that beauties wonderment 24 

When my abodes prefixed time is spent 46 

When those renoumed noble Peres of Greece 44 

Ye tradefull Merchants, that with weary toyle 15 

Edmund Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion incorporates a significant 
literary discovery that has considerable ramifications not only for 
Spenser's other poetry but for Elizabethan poetry in general. Amoretti 
comprises eight-nine sonnets, written during Spenser's courtship of his 
second wife. The text shows that they observe a daily, sequential, and 
chronological order: that laid down by the liturgical calendar of the 
Church of England's Book of Common Prayer. Spenser draws upon the 
prescribed scripture readings for the sonnets' topics, imagery, vocab- 
ulary, and word-games. These scriptural associations also make a rather 
impenetrable and seemingly uninteresting cycle of poems a highly 
personal, very funny, and often risque sequence. It also reveals that 
Spenser, when shaping Amoretti and Epithalamion, chose to present it 
as both a poetic and liturgical artefact. 

Kenneth J. Larsen is a professor in the Department of English at the 
University of Auckland, New Zealand. 


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