Describe the form, structure and the concerns of poet in the poem "The Procession of the Seasons."

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edmund Spenser's poem "The Processions of the Seasons" is in the form to his own sonnets [the Spenserian sonnet], composed of quatrains that have the rhyme scheme of ababbcbcc, except for the first stanza whose rhyme scheme is ababbabaa. The rhyming couplet at the end summarizes the stanza and explains the relationship of the seasons to a stage of life. Each season is personified as one of the major stages of human life.

With this personification, there is a meditation upon the life cycle. Spring is the warrior; he is energetic and full of enthusiasm for life--"That, as some did him love, others did him fear"; Summer is the skillful man who has learned to control his energy; he is likened to a hunter:

A bow and shafts, as he in forest green
Had hunted late the leopard or the boar

Fall is more mature and satisfied with life, but he has lost energy. That he uses a sickle, which is always symbolic of death, conveys his aging and foreshadows death. Finally, winter is the aged man, weakening and moving to the end of life. 

For he was faint with cold and weak with eld
That scarce his looséd limbs he was able to wield.

Color imagery is also employed to describe the seasons that are compared to major phases of life. The fresh green of Spring suggests newness and growth; the yellow of autumn presages the dying of leaves while the approach of winter and the shroud-like covering as it is "clothéd all in the frieze."