EDMUND SPENSER’S ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME

ONE DAY I WROTE HER NAME BY EDMUND SPENSER

1. What is the source of Spenser’s Sonnet No. 75 (‘One day I wrote her name upon the strand’)?

Ans. The source of Spenser’s Sonnet No. 75 (‘One day I wrote her name upon the strand’) is The Amoretti (meaning ‘the little loves’).

2. How many sonnets are there in The Amoretti?

Ans. There are 89 sonnets (and 4 short lyrics) in The Amoretti.

3. To whom is the sonnet addressed?

Ans. Sonnet No. 75 is addressed to Elizabeth Boyle, the poet’s mistress whom he later married.

4. To what type of sonnet does Sonnet No. 75 belong?

Ans. It belongs to the English type of sonnet consisting of three quatrains and a couplet and it follows a linked type of rhyme scheme such as abab bcbc cdcd ee.

5. In which respect is Spenser’s sonnet different from a Petrarchan sonnet?

Ans. Spenser’s sonnet is different from a Petrarchan one in the following respects: (a) it ends with a rhymed couplet while a Petrarchan sonnet ends in an unrhymed terset; (b) it celebrates successful love while Petrarch’s sonnet deals with his unfulfilled love for Laura.

6. What is the theme of Spenser’s Sonnet No. 75?

Ans. Its theme is eternalization (=immortalization) of the beloved’s name through verse (which may, again, be looked upon as love’s (or poetry’s) triumph over death).

7. ‘I wrote her name upon the strand’.—Who is ‘I’? Whom does the word ‘her’ refer to? What is the meaning of the
word ‘strand’?

Ans. “T” means the lover as well as the poet.

The word ‘her’ refers to the beloved or Elizabeth Boyle. The word ‘strand’ means a sandy shore by the side of a sea, lake or river.

8. Why does the lover write her name upon the strand?

Ans. The lover writes the name of his beloved on the strand to show his love to her as well as to make her name immortal.

9. What was the fate of his writing?

Ans. The lover wrote her name twice and twice it was removed by the incoming waves.

10. What images does the poet apply to the waves and to the name on the strand?

Ans. The waves were like beasts or birds of prey and the name on the strand was like a victim.

11. ‘Agayne I wrote it with a second hand’.-What did the lover write again? What is meant by ‘with a second hand’?

Ans. The lover wrote his beloved’s name again on the sandy shore of the sea. With a second hand’ means that her name was written with a second handwriting, i.e. handwriting applied for the second time.

12. What was the beloved’s reaction on seeing the wiping out of her name by the waves?

Ans. She mildly scolds her lover by calling him *vain’ (=proud) and remarks that he is vainly trying to make immortal an object like herself who is mortal (=subject to death) by nature.

13. What does the lover say in reply to the beloved’s reaction?

Ans. The lover says that her name will not be wiped out of the earth for he will make it immortal in his verse.

14. Where does the lover propose to write her name and why?

Ans. The lover proposes to write his beloved’s ‘glorious’ name in his poetic sky. He wants to do so in order that it may remain beyond the reach of all-conquering Death.

15. How, according to the lover, will her name live?

Ans. Just as a man lives by feeding on food, her name in his verse) will similarly be nourished by fame.

16. What happens to baser things’ and why?

Ans. Baser things die in dust, i.e. they face an ignoble and humiliating death. It is because of some contrariness in the elements that go to constitute the baser (=meaner) things.

17. Why does the lover hope that unlike baser things that die in ‘dust she will live?

Ans. The lover hopes that his beloved will live because she is made of pure elements having no contrariness in them.

18. What’virtues’ does she possess?

Ans. The beloved possesses rare virtues like (pure) love, (graceful) beauty, modesty, loyalty and chastity.

19. How is Death described in the sonnet?

Ans. Death is described as one who can all the world subdew (=subdue or defeat; bring under control).

20. What does the lover hope their love to be capable of doing?

Ans. The lover hopes their love to be capable of renewing (=revitalizing; inspiring) such lovers as will come after them.

21. What does the word “The Amoretti’ mean? What does it refer to?

Ans. The word ‘The Amoretti’ means ‘little loves’. It refers to the poet’s dear sonnets.

22. Name two obsolete words and give their meanings.

Ans. The obsolete words as used in Sonnet No. 75 are “eek’, ‘quod’, and ‘whenas’. ‘Eeek’ means ‘also’ ‘quod’ means ‘said’ (in reply), and ‘whenas’ means ‘whereas’.

23. Name some words with obsolete spellings and supply their modern spellings in brackets.

Ans. Such words are: agayne (again), tyde (tide), paynes (pains), pray (prey), vayne (vain), sayd (said), vaine (vain), mortali (mortal), my selve (myself), lyke (like), wyped (wiped), lykewize (likewise), devize (devise), dy (die), vertues (virtues), eternize (eternalize), hevens (heavens), wryte (write) and subdew (subdue).

24. What does ‘assay’ mean? Who assays and how is it viewed?

Ans. The word “assay’ means ‘to make an attempt’.

It is the lover who ‘assays’ (=attempts) to write his beloved’s name permanently on the strand (=sandy shore) His beloved thinks that his attempts are all in vain.

25. How does the beloved differentiate between this decay’ and ‘my name’?

Ans. Although both these expressions refer to the beloved’s name, she makes a slight difference between them. By this decay’ she means the fate of her name consisting of letters and something written on the strand whereas by ‘my name’ she means her identity in the society as a woman of flesh and blood and she hopes to remain after her death.

26. What do ‘the waves’ stand for in this sonnet?

Ans. “The waves’ stand for the destructive forces of Nature in this sonnet.

| 27. What will immortalize the rare virtues of the beloved and how?

Ans. The poet’s verse will immortalize the rare virtues of the beloved. His verse will be so full of pure thought, metrical harmony, musical sound, startling imagery and pleasing expression that no reader of any age will willingly allow it to escape from his memory.

In this way his verse will live conferring immortality to her name.

28. What does the poet actually mean when he says that his beloved will live by fame?

Ans. The poet actually means that his poetry, on account of its extraordinary qualities, will be famous and as his beloved will be talked about and as her memory will be preserved in such poetry, she will be able to partake of its fame. Thus she will live by fame.

29. What does the poet mean when he says ‘our love shall live’?

Ans. By it the lover means that their remarkable love will be remembered and not forgotten for it will be permanent in nature.

30. How will their love ‘renew later life’?

Ans. By ‘later life’ the poet means such lovers as will come after them. When, for one reason or another, their love becomes slack or lies on the verge of death, the young lovers will feel rejuvenated and re-energized after reading his poetry which will give a new lease of life to their love and inspire them to emulate (=copy) the elders’ love that is pure and free from all grossness.

31. What did the poet’s persona in The Amoretti (Sonnet No. 75) say when he was asked by his beloved not to write her name upon the strand?

Ans. The poet’s persona (=a role one loves to assume and persuades others to take him as such) replies that instead of writing her name on the strand where waves wipe it out, he will write her name in the high heavens of his poetry (i.e. the poetic sky or firmament) where neither waves nor death that subdues all the world will be able to do any harm to it. (On the other hand, her name will gloriously blaze there indicating the permanence of their love and inspiring later lovers like a star.)

32. “Vayne man,” said she, “that doest in vaine assay”.-Who says this and to whom? Explain the significance of ‘vayne’and ‘vaine’.

Ans. The beloved in Spenser’s poem Sonnet No. 75 (“One day I wrote her name upon the strand’) taken from The Amoretti said it to her lover. “Vayne’ means proud whereas ‘vaine’ means useless or fruitless.

The words signify that there was much laxity in orthography (=spelling) in former times.

33. “A mortal thing to immortalize”.-What is meant by a mortal thing’? Who wants ‘to immortalize it?

Ans. A ‘mortal thing’ means one who is subject to death. The poet’s beloved is here referred to as the mortal thing. It is the poet-lover who wants to immortalize his beloved. (He will not let neither the tide nor death to do harm to her as he wants to eternalize her rare virtues in his verse whose appeal will remain constant in age after age.]

34. “Not so,” quod I’.-What does the speaker seek to refute and how?

Ans. The speaker seeks to refute (=disprove his beloved’s contention (=assertion) that (after her death) her name will meet with the same fate as the writing of her name on the strand. He proposes to immortalize her rare virtues in his verse for which she will live by fame and not years. Moreover, he will write her glorious name in his poetic sky wherefrom it will remind everyone of their unique (=unparalleled) love and continue to renew (=revitalize; inspire) young lovers like a star.

35. Who is the lady’ in real life referred to in Spenser’s Amoretti? What is the meaning of the word ‘eek’?

Ans. The lady in real life who has been referred to in Spenser’s Amoretti is Elizabeth Boyle, a beautiful Irish lady whom the poet courted and married. “Eek’, an obsolete word, means ‘also’.

36. What is the central idea of Spenser’s Sonnet No. 75 (‘One day I wrote her name upon the strand’)?

Ans. The central idea of Spenser’s Sonnet No. 75 is the immortalization of love through verse.

37. What does the poet mean when he says: “You shall live by fame’?

Ans. As his beloved is a woman of rare virtues (like love, modesty, loyalty, beauty and chastity), she will not die in dust like baser things. On the other hand, his verse will make her famous as a result of which she will draw her sustenance out of this fame.

38. ‘Let baser things……..die in dust’.-To what theory does it allude to?

Ans. It alludes to the theory of the nature of (pure and impure) substances as propounded by Saint Thomas Aquinas.

. According to this theory base (=inferior) objects disintegrate in dust because of contradiction in the elements that constitute them whereas pure objects continue to live (i.e. become permanent) as they have no contrareity in their constituent elements.

39. “But come the tyde, and made my paynes his pray.’–Does it bring in any image?

Ans. The quoted line obviously brings in an image of a bird of prey (such as a hawk) thatswoops down on smaller birds and ; other helpless animals and finishes them. In the same way the tide (=high waves) came in and wiped out the beloved’s name that poet had written on the strand.

40. How does the poet describe Death? What will be the position of his beloved’s name vis-à-vis this destructive force of Nature?

Ans. Death is no respector of persons (i.e. it pays little attention to wealth, property or rank) and has been described as one who can ‘subdew’ (i.e. subdue, defeat) ‘all the world’.

The positionof the beloved’s name is naturally very weak visà-vis (=with regard to; in relation with) this destructive force of Nature (i.e. Death). But the poet proposes to lift it off the gross atmosphere of the earth and to place it in the pure region of the high heavens (i.e. the poetic firmament) where it will blaze beyond the reach of Death and continue to inspire young lovers like a star.

41. Is there any touch of the drama in Spenser’s Sonnet No. 75 (“One day I wrote her name upon the strand’)?

Ans. That Spenser’s Sonnet No. 75 (“One day I wrote her name upon the strand’) has some dramatic element in it cannot be denied. The very background of he poem–the vast sea and two human lovers—is dramatic in itself (i.e. without considering other things).

They talk of love and love which is, again, dramatic by nature. The story develops with the help of dialogue. The tone changes all the way from banter (=teasing in a playful way) to denial of the charge to assertion. The clash between mortality and immortality; between death’s victory over earthly objects and poetry’s triumph over death also lend a dramatic touch to the poem.

42. What does the poet glorify in his pocm-love and poetry? 

Ans. The poet glorifies both love and poetry in his Sonnet No. 75.

When the beloved fears that along with her physical extinction her name and their love will come to an end, the lover assures her that he will write her name in the poetic firmament (=sky) where death will be unable to do it any harm and wherefrom their love will continue to inspire later lovers like a star.

Notwithstanding this, the poet lays more emphasis on poetry. It will eternalize her rare virtues like love, beauty, modesty, loyalty and chastity and make her live by fame (which it will earn for her) as a result of which she will not die in dust like a base material but exist as a pure substance.

Thus, though she will physically die she will live in his poetry serving as a source of inspiration to others. In this sonnet, therefore, verse becomes more important than love.

43. Does Spenser follow any poetic convention in this sonnet? How does he make it attractive, if any?

Ans. In his Sonnet No. 75 (‘One day I wrote her name upon the strand’) Spenser follows a long standing poetic convention which is immortalization through verse.

The poet makes a dramatic use of it in his poem. At the beginning the lover writes his beloved’s name upon the strand (i.e. the sandy shore or beach) with a view to making it permanent. But the waves frustrate his attempt by removing his writing.

Twice he writes her name and twice they wipe it out. Noticing this she with some banter remarks that he is a vain (=proud) man who is trying in vain (=uselessly) to immortalize an object which is mortal by nature. Somewhat hurt at this the lover assures her that he will immortalize her rare virtues in his verse where she will live by fame.

In addition he will write her glorious name in the high heavens (i.e. his poetic sky) where Death that subdues (=defeats or controls) ‘all the world’ will be unable to do any harm to it and wherefrom it will remind others of their pure, unparalleled and ideal love which will also inspire and invigorate all succeeding lovers in the days of their sagging  (=falling) love.

Thus Spenser has succeeded in lending a fresh charm to the existing poetic convention.

44. Trace briefly the progress of thought in Spenser’s Sonnet No. 75 (“One day I wrote her name upon the strand’).

Ans. Observing her lover’s twice failure in writing her name indelibly (=that cannot be rubbed out) on the strand the beloved banteringly remarks that like a vain man he is vainly trying to make immortal an object that is mortal by nature and that soon her name like his writing will be wiped out of the earth.

The lover, to assuage (=to make less the severity of something) her fear, replies that she will live by fame in his verse which will eternalize her rare virtues and also lift her name off the gross atmosphere of the earth where Death subdues all and write it in the pure region of his poetic sky where it will ever remind others of their pure and unsullied love which will help to add fresh vigour and life to young lovers when they find their love to be going dry and uninteresting. Thus from a doubt in the longevity of the beloved’s name the thought in the poem progresses to the assertion of its permanence in the poet’s verse.

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