Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spenserian Sonnet

One Day I Wrote Her Name Upon the Strand
Edmund Spenser

ONE day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washèd 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 5
A mortal thing so to immortalise;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wipèd out likewise.
Not so (quod I); let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame; 10
My verse your virtues rare shall eternise,
And in the heavens write your glorious name:
Where, when as Death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.

Spenserian Sonnets have an abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee rhyme scheme, yet unlike the Petrarchan Sonnets, the first octet isn't answered by the latter sestet. It is seen as three quatrains connected by the rhyme scheme with the couplet at the end. It has the terza rima rhyme scheme as I mentioned in earlier poems.

It is very obvious that I wrote your name in the sand, but the waves washed it away poem was written based on this poem.

Euphony is used in the first quatrain to portray the delicate nature of his love for this lady. It also indicates the sorrow he may feel when the name is washed away by the waves. In the second quatrain, the use of the opposite cacophony magnifies the anger of the woman. The use of hard consonants makes the second quatrain hard to flow easily.

In the third quatrain, caesura is used to show the pondering of the man. He stops and thinks of what to say to his lady to please her. The pauses indicate almost a fear of losing her. He stops and thinks about what he is going to say before he actually says it. This cautious way of saying things is carried into the couplet when caesura is used again. The caesura, or maybe emjambment is used even more in the couplet to give more viscosity of his feelings. Enjambment is the breaking of a syntactical unit. Instead of being very easy to read, Spenser uses the Caesura to put more emphasis on the true meaning of his poem.

The rhyme scheme in the poem connects the forward action of his movements. When he moves on from the euphony and almost enchanted world in the first quatrain to the harsh reality of the second quatrain, the rhyme scheme (abab bcbc) intertwines the two worlds and almost keeps the presence of romanticism alive. This is likewise of the third quatrain and the couplet.

Also, trope could be accomodated with this poem by saying that the waves represent affairs or some infidelity in his life. It would make sense to allude that.

Try to see the contrast in the way the speaker reads the quatrains.

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