Sonnet 75: One Day I Wrote Her Name Upon the Strand
In this blog, we have discussed the summary of Edmund Spencer’s Amoretti Sonnet 75: One Day I Wrote Her Name Upon the Strand.
In the first quatrain, the speaker recounts writing his beloved’s name on the sands of the seashore. Naturally, the water rushed over this sandy name, erasing it entirely. However, he then announces that he has repeated his vain gesture, and yet the waves have once again swept in and erased the name. Although the speaker appears to address an unknown party, he is actually speaking about his beloved, fiancee, or lover, and it becomes clear that he intends this message to be for her alone. This is a deft technique that enables the speaker to create a conversation that could have occurred but most likely did not. The speaker’s use of ellipsis is also brilliant; substituting “hand” for “handwriting” creates a convenient rhyme.
The speaker’s sweetheart then castigates him for doing the impossible: immortalising a mortal. She informs her lover that not only will the ocean’s waves wipe her name, but she, too, will eventually vanish from life’s shores. The beloved characterises her boyfriend as vain for believing he might evade the unending cycles of life and death with such a feeble gesture. Again, the economic speaker makes superb use of ellipses to maintain his rhythm: instead of “eke out” he inserts “eke,” which enables the reader to comprehend and supply the crucial missing phrase.
The speaker, on the other hand, is not amused by mortality’s nonsense. He acknowledges that lesser things may fall to the moral realm’s whims, but she is not one of those lesser things. Indeed, the speaker will immortalise her in his poems. She possesses such magnificence that he is able to “frame” her for eternity. His poems will endure far beyond the lives of the two lovers, granting them an immortality they had not contemplated previously. The concept has been a cornerstone of poetry from its inception. Poets have long claimed to immortalise their subjects by presenting them in poems that will be published and read widely in perpetuity. While this may appear to be just poets’ vanity, it has proven true for all sonnet creators, sonnet style pioneers, and other poets who have fashioned their beloveds and other passions into their verse. Spenser, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman are all examples of poetry’s immortality.
The speaker then declares that he, as well as his beloved, will attain immortality: their “love shall live.” And it will continue to be renewed in the future whenever a reader comes across the speaker’s poems.