Edmund Spenser's own popularity plus the popularity of the sonnet form combined with Spenser's refreshing twist on the love sonnet sequence to make Sonnet 75 very popular in his own day. Five years before the Amoretti sequence of sonnets was published, of which Sonnet 75 is a part, Spenser...
Edmund Spenser's own popularity plus the popularity of the sonnet form combined with Spenser's refreshing twist on the love sonnet sequence to make Sonnet 75 very popular in his own day. Five years before the Amoretti sequence of sonnets was published, of which Sonnet 75 is a part, Spenser had released the first three books of The Faerie Queen. This epic poem honoring Queen Elizabeth catapulted Spenser, and with him English poetry, into the realm of poetic prowess previously reserved for foreign poets on the European continent. The lengthy poem was heralded as the finest English poem of its generation.
Around the same time, fellow English poet Philip Sydney had popularized the sonnet series in his Astrophil and Stella. Like conventional Petrarchan sonnets, Sydney's poems focused on the man's love of a married woman and dealt with illicit passions. This sequence made sonnets very popular from 1591 to 1600.
Spenser published Amoretti in 1595, at the height of this English sonnet season. However, Spenser's series broke with Petrarchan tradition by developing a love affair that was consistent with Christian morality. The poems are autobiographical and represent Spenser's wooing of his second wife, Elizabeth Boyle. Rather than being filled with the angst of star-crossed lovers, the series follows a successful courtship that ends with a jubilant wedding. Although some less controlled passions occur in the beginning of the series, as the poems progress through the Christian calendar of Lent and Easter, they extol the virtues of Christian piety and self-control in love. Thus by the time the sequence reaches Sonnet 75, the poet has won the love of his Elizabeth, and this picture of the two of them on the beach with the poet proclaiming the eternal nature of his passion is very satisfying and pleasant. The celebration of a legitimate relationship fully consistent with religious principles but just as deeply passionate is what made this poem so appealing to its English audience in Queen Elizabeth's day.