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Mr. Reynolds' English Classes

Southgate Anderson High School

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Spenser Sonnets

Edmund Spenser: Sonnet 1

-What are the characteristics (rules) that apply to all sonnets?

-What is the rhyme scheme for a Spenserian sonnet?

-Be able to paraphrase

-Be able to discuss theme

Sonnet 1

Happy ye leaves! whenas those lily hands,

Which hold my life in their dead doing might,

Shall handle you, and hold in love's soft bands,

Like captives trembling at the victor's sight.

And happy lines! on which, with starry light,

Those lamping eyes will deign sometimes to look,

And read the sorrows of my dying sprite,

Written with tears in heart's close bleeding book.

And happy rhymes! bathed in the sacred brook

Of Helicon, whence she derived is,

When ye behold that angel's blessed look,

My soul's long lacked food, my heaven's bliss.

Leaves, lines, and rhymes seek her to please alone,

Whom if ye please, I care for other none.

Sonnet 35

My hungry eyes through greedy covetize

   still to behold the object of their paine:

   with no contentment can themselves suffize,

   but having pine and having not complaine.

For lacking it they cannot lyfe sustayne,

   and having it they gaze on it the more:

   in their amazement lyke Narcissus vaine

   whose eyes him starv'd: so plenty makes me poore.

Yet are mine eyes so filled with the store

   of that faire sight, that nothing else they brooke,

   but lothe the things which they did like before,

   and can no more endure on them to looke.

All this worlds glory seemeth vayne to me,

   and all their showes but shadowes saving she.

Sonnet 75

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,

But came the waves and washed it away:

Again I wrote it with a second hand,

But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.

Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay

A mortal thing so to immortalize!

For I myself shall like to this decay,

And eek my name be wiped out likewise.

Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise

To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:

My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,

And in the heavens write your glorious name;

Where, whenas death shall all the world subdue,

Our love shall live, and later life renew.

Site updated on May 21, 2018