Edmund Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion: A Critical Edition

Edmund Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion: A Critical Edition

Edmund Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion: A Critical Edition

Edmund Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion: A Critical Edition

Excerpt

The volume containing Edmund Spenser’s sonnet sequence and epithalamion 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, although recent work on the sonnet sequence, Amoretti, by Dunlop, Johnson, and Gibbs, has gone some way towards redressing the balance. The discoveries 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 risqué.

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 Spenser (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 and 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

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