Sonnet 75 by Edmund Spenser | Summary, Analysis, Theme, Structure and Explanation of Sonnet 75

Sonnet 75 Poem by Edmund Spenser: “Sonnet 75,” also called “Amoretti 75,” was published by English poet Edmund Spenser in 1595 as part of Amoretti, a cycle of 89 sonnets that recounted Spenser’s courtship and marriage to his second wife, Elizabeth Boyle.

The poem explores the power of poetry to immortalize its subjects, presenting this sonnet itself as bestowing Boyle’s name with a kind of eternal life. The poem also showcases Spenser’s unique stanza and sonnet style, which would later be named after him. He first perfected the Spenserian stanza in The Faerie Queen, his most famous work and the first epic poem to be written in modern English.

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

Sonnet 75 by Edmund Spenser Summary – “One day I wrote her name upon the strand”

One day I wrote my beloved’s name in the sand on the shore, but the waves rolled in and erased it. So I wrote it a second time, but when the tide came in, it just ate up all my hard work again. “You’re being silly and prideful,” my beloved told me, “in your futile attempts to make something mortal last forever.

I’m going to die and decay one day, and, just as the ocean erases my name from the shore, everything about me will disappear.” “That’s not true,” I replied. “Less noble things can plan to die and disappear, but you’re going to live forever through fame. My poetry will immortalize your incredible goodness and write your magnificent name in the heavens. Even when death has come for the entire world, our love will live on forever.”

Summary of Sonnet 75 by Edmund Spenser

Sonnet 75 by Edmund Spenser Theme

The Themes Of: “Sonnet 75: One day I wrote her name upon the strand

The Immortalizing Power of Poetry:

“Sonnet 75” is a poem about the power of poetry itself. The poem’s speaker wants his beloved to be remembered forever, even as she argues that such notions are vain and pointless; she’s a human being, and as such, her name and memory will one day disappear along with her mortal body.

The speaker, however, believes that her beauty and virtue deserve everlasting fame and that he has the ability to immortalize her, to grant her a kind of triumph over death, through his poetry.

Describes the courtship and eventual marriage of Edmund Spenser to Elizabeth Boyle. The speaker attempting to convince her or addresses indirectly his beloved that their love will live eternally. The first quatrain depicts the lyrical voice’s attempt to immortalize his loved one.

Sonnet 75 Form And Structure

Sir Edmund Spenser has always been credited with the creation of an eponymous sonnet style, taking his place along with such luminaries as Petrarch, Shakespeare, and Milton. The Spenserian sonnet was featured in the poet’s epic poem, The Faerie Queene. That style of the sonnet, when referring to his long poem, is also referred to as the Spenserian stanza.

The Spenserian sonnet features a couplet and three quatrains, as does the Shakespearean; however, the rime scheme differs slightly. In comparison, the Shakespearean sonnet’s rime scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, the Spenserian features two fewer rimes with the scheme, ABAB BCBC DCDC EE.

The Sonnet helps to reveal the supercilious tone of the speaker by the use of Metaphors. In the first quatrain, Spenser has the speaker compare his love’s mortality with the waves washing away her name on the sand, “One day I wrote her name upon the strand. But came the waves and washed it away.” (1-2).

Explanation & Analysis of “Sonnet 75: One day I wrote her name upon the strand”

In sonnet 75 from Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti, the speaker addresses indirectly his beloved, attempting to convince her that their love will live eternally.

Lines 1-4 (Writing the name in sand) 

“One day I wrote her name upon the strand;

But came the waves, and washed it away:

Again, I wrote it with a second hand;

But came the tide and made my pains his prey.”

The first quatrain finds the speaker reported that he had written his beloved’s name upon the sandy shore of a sea. Of course, the water vanquished it to nil as it rushed over this sandy name.

But then he set forth that he repeated his gesture, and yet once again it’s vain, the waves rode in and again erased the name. The speaker quite seems to address an unknown party or person, but he is speaking about his sweetheart, fiancée, or lover, and it becomes obvious that he means this message to be intended for her alone.

This fantasy exchange is a clever technique allowing the speaker to invent a conversation that could take place but likely has not. The speaker’s use of ellipsis is also genius, “hand” replacing “handwriting” allows for a convenient rime.

Lines 5-8 (Failure to accomplish the impossible) 

“Vain man said she, that dost in vain assay

A mortal thing so to immortalize;

For I myself shall like to this decay,

And eke my name be wiped out likewise.”

The speaker’s sweetheart then reprimands the speaker for attempting to achieve the impossible: to make a mortal entity immortal. She actually reminds her lover that not only will the ocean waves eradicate her name, but in time she herself will evanesce from the shores of life. The beloved labels her lover for having the notion of a man of vanity and that he can buck the death and eternal rounds of life by such a totter gesture.

To keep his rhythm intact again, the economic speaker employs the brilliant use of ellipses: instead of “eke out”, he inserts “eke,” which allows the reader to understand and supply the necessary missing term.

Lines 9-12 (Having none of it) 

“Not so, quoth I, let baser things devise

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

My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,

And in the heavens, write your glorious name.”

The speaker, however, is not having any of the nonsense of mortality. He admits that lesser things may, indeed, succumb to the whims of the mortal realm, but she is not of those lesser things.

The speaker will, in fact, immortalize her in his poems. She possesses such glory as to allow him the ability to “frame” her for eternity. His poems will live far beyond the lives of the two lovers, gaining for them immortality upon which they likely had not, heretofore, cogitated.

The notion is a poetic staple from the birth of poetry itself. Poets have been claiming to immortalize their subjects by displaying them in verse that will continue to be published and read far and wide.

Such a notion may seem like a mere poet’s vanity, but it has proven true for all of the accomplished sonnet makers, sonnet style originators, and other poets who have fashioned their beloveds and other interests in their verse. We need only look to Spenser, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman for verification of the ability of poetry to immortalize.

Lines 13 and 14 (The Couplet: Immortalized in poems) 

“Where, when as death shall all the world subdue,

Our love shall live, and later life renew.”

The speaker then professes that immortality is in the offing for himself as well as his beloved: their “love shall live.” And it will be renewed in the future every time a reader encounters the speaker’s poems.

Later poets who followed this prescription for immortality have faired the same way. They have immortalized their lovers and every aspect of their lives that they held dear as readers and listeners have applied their minds and hearts to the verses so lovingly offered by these scribblers.

Similar Poems Related to Sonnet 75 by Edmund Spenser

‘Sonnet 30,’ by Edmund Spencer, also known as ‘My Love is like to ice, and I to fire’ another best poem among others, especially for those who actually enjoyed ‘Sonnet 75,’ and should also consider reading some of Spenser’s other best-known poems.

In this piece, the speaker actually describes the antithetical nature of his love. Spenser, to describe his role as lover, uses theatre and his attempts to woo the person he’s interested in his another interesting poem, ‘Sonnet 54′. Some other related poems are Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 130’ and  ‘Sonnet 24.’ The Sonnet 130′ is one of his most famous and begins with the well-known line, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.”

About Edmund Spencer

Edmund Spenser is considered one of the finest poets of the English language. He was born into the family with John Spenser, who was an obscure cloth maker and belonged to the Merchant Taylors’ Company. Edmund Spenser was married to a woman about whom almost nothing is known but named Elizabeth.

Since the records of the parish for the area of London where the poet actually grew up and was destroyed in the 1666 Great Fire, his birth date has remained uncertain, though the dates the date traditionally assigned, of his schooling and a remark in one of his sonnets (Amoretti 60) lend credence, which is around 1552. Spenser’s did reinvent the classical pastoral, or The Shepheardes Calender, which as a major contribution to the development of English literature and national culture and was admired by Sir Philip Sidney.

His epic poem, The Faerie Queene, in honour of Queen Elizabeth I, was written and in celebration of the dynasty of Tudor. Along with Sidney, he set out to create a body of work that could parallel the great works of European poets such as Boccaccio, Dante, and Petrarch and extend the line of English literary culture, which began by Chaucer. Among Spenser’s many and many contributions to English literature, he is the namesake and originator of the Spenserian stanza and the Spenserian sonnet.

There is no reliable image of Spenser or anyone connected to him. The Spenser portraits we have were discovered in the eighteenth century and are no more than dubious attributions. There is a tomb in Kilcredan Church that once contained the head of Elizabeth Boyle, but it has now been lost.

Sonnet 75 Edmund Spenser