Epithalamion Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Amoretti 1595), a sonnet sequence printed with the Epithalamion, differs from most Petrarchan sequences because instead of depicting the suffering of an unfulfilled lover, Amoretti moves from courtship to the lovers’ fulfillment in marriage. The Amoretti, a sequence of eighty-nine sonnets, and Epithalamion, a verse celebration of a wedding day, were printed together by William Ponsonby in 1595, but they were entered in the Stationers’ Register on November 19, 1594. Ponsonby’s title page describes them as “written not long since,” and they have been interpreted as documents in Spenser’s biography.

Since the Amoretti contains references to wooing, it has been assumed that the woman addressed is Elizabeth Boyle, Spenser’s second wife. If Edmund Spenser is the Spenser who married Machabyas Chylde in 1579, Machabyas had presumably died by 1591. According to numerological and astronomical analyses deriving from the sonnet sequence and wedding poem, Spenser married Elizabeth Boyle sometime between 1591 and 1594. Internal references indicate that his Epthalamion was probably written for his own wedding, which according to astronomical and numerological images seems to have taken place on June 11, St. Barnabas Day, possibly in 1594. The dedication to the published texts, however, does not specify a biographical link between Spenser’s life and these poems. Ponsonby dedicates the poems to...

(The entire section is 438 words.)