To whom did Spenser address his sonnet sequence Amoretti?

Spenser addressed his sonnet sequence Amoretti to Elizabeth Boyle, his wife. The sonnets were printed as part of a volume called Amoretti and Epithalamion.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The sonnet sequence Amoretti consists of a series of poems detailing the courtship of Edmund Spenser and his intended, Elizabeth Boyle. The poems contained in his sequence are thus autobiographical. Unlike a lot of love poems, then, we know whom they were written for as well as the person who wrote them.

What is striking about Amoretti is Spenser's departure from the tradition of love sonnet initiated by the great Italian poet Petrarch. In Petrarchan love sonnets, it is often the case that the speaker's beloved is out of reach and unattainable and that the love between the speaker and his beloved is illicit, adulterous even.

But in Amoretti, the courtship displayed is completely respectable. Both the speaker and his beloved are single and come from good families. There is thus a sense of inevitability about their eventual marriage.

Spenser's Amoretti sonnets were published in a volume entitled Amoretti and Epithalamion. An epithalamion is a song or poem celebrating a marriage. Traditionally, it was written for a bride on her way to the marital chamber. Spenser's epithalamion was written on the day of his wedding and goes into considerable detail about the events of that day. In time-honored fashion, the poem lavishes considerable praise upon the bride, who is described in positively glowing terms.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team