On the basis of Amoretti, discuss Spenser as a love poet.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A discussion of Spenser as a love poet on the basis of his Amoretti love sonnets requires a discussion of Spenser's courtship of Elizabeth Boyle. Spenser fell in love with Elizabeth, but Elizabeth did not return his affection. The Amoretti chronicle his long and, for a long time, unfruitful courtship of Elizabeth. So one thing that sets Spenser apart from other love poets is that there is little doubt that the sonnets are to be read as Spenser's own voice.

Also, since their relationship was so rocky from Spenser's point of view, his sonnets cover virtually every love situation and feeling possible. He writes of newly sprung love, of dashed hopes, of scorn and ridicule from the object of his love and of final victory that is sadly rent by misunderstanding that is ultimately reconciled with a love that is once and for all cemented. Spenser as a love poet stands out for one further reason.

While the Amoretti chronicle his love, courtship and victory, they also act as the prelude to one of Spenser's greatest, most beautiful and most masterful works, his Epithalamion. Spenser's Epithalamion is a celebratory wedding poem that celebrates his wedding to Elizabeth. For a long time, critics considered it quite separate from the Amoretti, but the consensus now is that they comprise complementary works, the one leading into the other and the other being the culmination of the one.

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