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Please offer a critical interpretation of Sonnet 78.

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fatinaz66 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 23, 2011 at 11:09 PM via web

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Please offer a critical interpretation of Sonnet 78.

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted February 24, 2011 at 1:02 AM (Answer #1)

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The speaker in Spenser's Amoretti, Sonnet No 78 feels a separation from his beloved deeply, wandering “from place to place,’lyke a young fawne that late hath lost the hynd” (lines 1-2). The poet’s usual motif of the predator and prey is here transformed into that of a baby deer for its mother. He longs to be near to her, and so seeks out those places she has recently frequented: “the fields” where she has recently walked and “her bowre with her late presence deckt” (lines 5-6). However, he can only find reminders of her, which in turn remind him of her absence and he finds himself “but fed with fancies vayne” (line 12). He resolves at last to stop looking to the outward world to remind him of her presence, and instead to turn his eyes inward, that he might “Behold her selfe in mee” (line 14). It is within himself that the most perfect picture of his beloved resides, so it is there he will search for the idol of his love.

In this sonnet occurring towards the close of the sequence, the poet-lover seems rather passive, caught up in his memory and desire, wandering in a trance, looking for his beloved in a fanciful hunt from place tp place, only to discover her in his own mind.

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