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The rhetoric of love: Voice in the Amoretti and the Songs and Sonets

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Abstract

The rhetorics of Elizabethan sonnets and metaphysical lyrics reflect differing perceptions of the phenomenon of love. The sonneteer's voice separates lover from loved one with formal syntax, bifurcated pronouns, and images of pursuit and entrapment. The metaphysical voice unites the lovers with direct address, shared dialectics, and images of physical and intellectual equality.

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... The light she shines on him will increase because of its reflection in his adoration of her: "Yet since your light hath once enlumind me, / with my reflex yours shall increase" (13-14). As Okerlund (1982) pointed out, the poet's admiration of the lady "elevates their love into a spiritual phenomenon that transcends mere earthly matters" (39). In sonnet XVII he once again contrasts her "Angels face" (1) with "the world's worthlesse glory" (3). ...
... Instead the poet brings forth only the purest emotions when he visits her in her "bowre of rest" (7). According to Okerlund (1982) this sonnet represents "an argument between two aspects of the poet's soul -his spiritual being and his baser physicality. The speaker may be attempting to control passions which threaten the sacred purity of his love in a dialogue with self." ...
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This paper analyses Edmund Spenser's sonnet sequence Amoretti and its concluding sequel Epithalamion within the context of Puritanism. By highlighting the Puritanical concepts in Spenser's two poetic works, the two researchers demonstrate the aspects in which Spenser parts ways with the Petrarchan sonnet tradition. Spenser offers a pure, Christian love that ends in holy matrimony as an alternative to the unsanctified, unrequited love in Petrarchan sonnets. Moreover, this research identifies the segments of Spenser's poems wherein Platonism is exceedingly manifested. Through the textual examination of the two aforementioned works, it becomes evident that nuances of the Puritan faith come to light in Spenser's depiction of a holy, Christian courtship and marriage, in his portrayal of the lady as an embodiment of heavenly light in contrast to the inferiority of earthly existence and in his parallel presentation of the lover's suffering for his angelic lady as an allegorical reflection of the agony endured by the Puritan to gain Heavenly Grace.
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stated during a discussion of Donne's “dawn songs”. National Endowment for the Humanities seminar on “Humanist Rhetoric”
  • Madelon E Heatherington