Sonnet 79: Men Call You Fayre, And You Doe Credit It – Summary
Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti: Sonnet 79 is concerned with the concept of pure beauty. According to Spenser, true beauty originates with God; knowledge and morality are two attributes that should be regarded in the highest regard. While outer beauty fades, inner beauty endures and ultimately reaches more people. “The critical consensus is that this poem blends Christian and Neoplatonic terms to express the poet’s vision of the force and meaning of love” (Huey 22).
The speaker informs his girlfriend that men refer to her as “fayre” (fair/beautiful), and she believes him since she looks in the mirror daily and recognises her beauty. The speaker informs her that her beauty is secondary to her “gentle wit” (intelligent) and “virtuous mind” (moral, chaste). The speaker appreciates her wit and virtue beyond all other attributes.
No matter how lovely you are now, your appearance will deteriorate over time. The only thing that endures in perpetuity is that which transcends the flesh. Beauty is impermanent. True beauty is that which originates within, such as wit and virtue. It is the only thing that is eternal and uncorruptible. Because individuals judge others based on how they appear on the exterior, they tend to dress up and wear make-up to appear as attractive as possible to others. The speaker emphasises the importance of inner beauty over exterior attractiveness. By emphasising his beloved’s inner beauty over her outer beauty, he demonstrates that he understands her more intimately than others do.
True beauty demonstrates that it is divine and originates in heaven. True beauty originates with God, who is the wellspring of all perfection. She is an angelic being born from heaven. Because she comes to the Lord, she is the epitome of real beauty.
The only thing that is truly just is what He created, and everything else fades away like a wilting flower.