Poets, in general, are fond of symbolism and figures of speech. Instead of wallowing in the concrete and the obvious, it has always been the purpose of the poet to give "... to aery nothing a local habitation and a name." The writers of love poetry are especially fond of imagery, metaphors, and similar devices, comparing their loved ones to such and such an animal or cosmic event.
It is therefore of no surprise that 16th century sonnets employ many figures of speech when elaborating on the finer points of the subject. Spenser, throughout his masterful Amoretti, is especially effective at drawing forth emotions; from feelings of despair (employing symbols of storms and lost ships), through to feelings of passion (and symbols of fertility and love, such as flowers), and eventually even transcending mere mortal flesh and glorifying the sensual spirit of his love, Spencer's use of symbolism and figures of speech not only remains constant and sure, but also create an effective mood and set the proper tone.
His 64th sonnet is a fine example of well used symbolism, where his love is compared to a ripe and blooming garden, resplendent with glorious scents and flowers. More importantly, perhaps, the sonnet also draws from a powerful Biblical background, drawing from the Song of Solomon (4.10-14).
After various troubles and desires and challenges, Spenser finally gets a much desired kiss from his love. And as he draws in towards the woman's lips...
"Me seemd I smelt a gardin of sweet floweres
That dainty odours from them threw around
For damzels fit to decke their lovers bowres."
... middle of paper ...
...'s Amoretti, and of 16th century literature in general. His use of symbols and of figures of speech not only evokes emotions, but creates the tone for the entire poem. More importantly, however, was his mastery of the form; by being one of the true masters of his time, he not only gained immortality, he gained the ability to influence the poets of today, and help them in their quest to impress their friends, their teachers, and most importantly,... their lovers.
Spenser, Edmund. "Sonnet 64." in Norton Anthology. Ed. M.H. Abrahms. New York: Norton, 1993. 735.
Shakespeare, William. "A Midsummer's Night Dream" in The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G.B. Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1974. 242.
"Solomon's Song." in The Holy Bible. New York: The World Publishing Company. 587.
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