11.3.2021 – wrote her name upon

wrote her name upon
the strand, but came the waves and
washed it away

Adapted from the sonnet, Amoretti LXXV, by Edmund Spenser.

This is one of several haiku I got from this sonnet.

Edmund Spenser (1553-1559), according to wikipedia, was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognized as one of the premier craftsmen of nascent Modern English verse and is often considered one of the greatest poets in the English language.

In 1595, Spenser published Amoretti and Epithalamion. This volume contains eighty-eight sonnets commemorating his courtship of Elizabeth Boyle. In Amoretti, Spenser uses subtle humour and parody while praising his beloved, reworking Petrarchism in his treatment of longing for a woman.

Spenser used a distinctive verse form, called the Spenserian stanza. The stanza’s main meter is iambic pentameter with a final line in iambic hexameter (having six feet or stresses, known as an Alexandrine), and the rhyme scheme is ababbcbcc. He also used his own rhyme scheme for the sonnet. In a Spenserian sonnet, the last line of every quatrain is linked with the first line of the next one, yielding the rhyme scheme ababbcbccdcdee.

But you knew that.

Here is the full sonnet.

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 eke my name be wiped out likewise.’
‘Not so,’ (quod I); ‘let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues 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.

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