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“Let us love, dear love, lyke as we ought”: Protestant Marriage and the Revision of Petrarchan Loving in Spenser’s Amoretti

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... Even the heavenly light in her eyes has been toned down to modesty; she is too humble to lift her eyes up: "Her modest eyes to behold…Ne dare to lift her countenance too bold, / But blush to heare her prayes sung so loud" (159,. According to Klein (1992) in her article "Protestant Marriage and the Revision of Petrarchan Loving in Spenser's Amoretti", this poem traces the poet's success in the "fashioning of the lady from a proud mistress into a humble bride who exhibits the richly suggestive "proud humility" [306] that characterises a virtuous Christian wife". In addition to this traditional image of the humble protestant bride is her celestial independence. ...
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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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Edmund Spenser's poetry remains an indispensable touchstone of English literary history. Yet for modern readers his deliberate use of archaic language and his allegorical mode of writing can become barriers to understanding his poetry. This volume of thirty-seven essays, written by distinguished scholars, offers a rich introduction to the literary, political and religious contexts that shaped Spenser's poetry, including the environment in which he lived, the genres he drew upon, and the influences that helped to fashion his art. The collection reveals the multiple personae that Spenser constructs within his work: to read Spenser is to read a rich archive of literary forms, and this volume provides the contexts in which to do so. A further reading list at the end of the volume will prove invaluable to further study.
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In his “Letter to Ralegh,” Spenser famously proclaims the goal of The Faerie Queene to “fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline”; and, indeed, The Faerie Queene’s Virgilian opening line, “Lo I the man” (Proem I.i.1), identifies the voice of Spenser’s epic as explicitly masculine. The poem’s overarching epic purpose is to narrate the impending imperial marriage of Arthur and Gloriana and their joining forces to triumph over the “Paynim King.” But four lines later, the poet also proclaims his Ariostan intention to narrate “Knights and Ladies gentle deeds.” It is Spenser’s Ariostan voice, not always happily accommodating “Ladies gentle deeds” within his epic goal of fashioning knights in “gentle discipline,” that inserts the wedge of “gender trouble” into The Faerie Queene. Notoriously at odds with epic purposiveness are the aimless meanderings of romance narrative that entangle knights within the standard romance apparatus of abductions, seductions, strange castle customs, erotic dreams, demonic spells, and so on—labyrinthine impediments to epic closure often coded as “female.” When the paths of “Knights and Ladies” intersect with increasing frequency in The Faerie Queene’s so-called “romance middle,” Spenser’s epic begins its indefinite delay of Arthur and Gloriana’s imperial marriage.
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