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Spencer’s “One Day I Wrote Her Name” Sonnet Analysis

This work presents the 75th sonnet by Edmund Spencer and belongs to the sonnet cycle “Amoretti,” which can be translated from Italian as “admiration.” Spencer’s poetic speech is distinguished by its originality both in terms of national coloring and its form and symbolism. It is an example of an English sonnet consisting of three quatrains and one couplet. The poem is written in iambic pentameter, a cross-rhyming method. The central theme of this sonnet is the eternal power of love, which does not fade even after many years.

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The first quatrain depicts an attempt by a lyrical hero to perpetuate the name of his beloved. He writes the maiden’s name in the sand, but the waves wash away the inscription. The lyrical hero uses an unusual way of expressing his feelings. There are moments or events that people are afraid of losing in the fleeting flow of time, and therefore they constantly resurrect these moments in memory. The lyrical hero, wanting to preserve the feelings associated with the memories of his beloved, challenges eternity itself.

The main character of this sonnet is persistent in his desire to stay with the maiden forever, so he tries to write her name again, but his attempt cannot be successful. Unfortunately, a person cannot avoid a fight with death, even more so – to win it because a person is powerless before the end. The thesis of this sonnet is the idea that, sooner or later, everything artificial and alive will be destroyed. The hero’s love is sincere, but it is expressed indirectly; the reader sees it more through the character’s actions and intentions. It is possible to guess his feelings by the desire to perpetuate the name of his beloved. “My verse your virtues rare shall eternize, and in the heavens write your glorious name” (Amoretti LXXV). This short phrase replaces a bunch of loud, unnecessary words and vividly and sensually shows the character’s inner feelings.

The author does not provide a detailed description of the maiden, but only a minor characteristic of her name, which readers do not know. For the lyrical hero, the appearance of the beloved does not matter because this is not the main thing in a person. He talks about the maiden in the third person, although, as it is clear from the text, she is nearby, albeit in the form of memory. The fact is that the beloved’s name is sacred for the lyrical hero, and it is unwise to tell it to someone just to satisfy curiosity.

The second and third quatrains describe the dialogue of the lyrical hero with the maiden. In the second, it is possible to see her critical reaction to the senseless efforts of the man, and in the third – his response to the remark of the beloved. In this stanza, there is a noticeable change in the emotional mood of the hero. The despair and dull longing of the character are replaced by a firm, albeit grim, determination to perpetuate the name of a maiden who has now become only a memory. The antithesis of the sonnet is as follows: the beloved one will live in the heart of the lyrical hero and other people thanks to the poems that will perpetuate her name.

In the couplet, it is possible to conclude: that according to the reflections of the lyrical hero, their love, unlike life, is immortal. The poem traces the idea of the Creator’s importance in society, their role, and the legacy they will leave behind. “Not so, (quoth I) let baser things devise, to die in dust, but you shall live by fame” (Amoretti LXXV). This line draws attention to itself, and new arguments are born from the thought of the immortality glorified in this work. The Creator does not just write or draw but makes whole worlds, feelings, relationships, and stories. Thus, the idea is traced: the creators have power over time and can give immortality.

Work Cited

“Amoretti LXXV: One Day I Wrote Her Name.” Poetry Foundation, Web.

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