Sonnet 75 – Edmund Spenser
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 doest in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalize,
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eek my name be wiped out likewise.
Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name.
Where whenas Death shall all the world subdue,
Out love shall live, and later life renew.
STANZA BY STANZA ANALYSIS
STANZA 1: The first quatrain describes the poet writing his lover’s name on the sand. Yet, the very next moment, the waves swallow them up and the letters vanish away. In the verse “Again I wrote it with a second hand”(line 4), we can see how the poet strives once more to leave his writing upon the beach, only to see it quickly disappear. We can understand the poet’s endless, but futile effort to immortalize something that is mortal. At the same time the writing of the lady’s name, which is the central image of the poem, is transferred from earth to heaven. Here we learn that time is the destroyer of all things but even so, the poet perseveres with determination to engrave his love on the walls of time itself.
STANZA 2: In this quatrain, the poem states that the poet’s lover did not have the confidence in his efforts of trying to immortalize his love towards her. She argued it is a mere waste of time and effort as love is a mortal thing as the phrase “A mortal thing so to immortalize”. She will be “washed away” just like her name was washed away by the tide. Continue Reading: Renaissance Era: Sonnet 75 – Edmund Spenser