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Spenser's sonnet series Amoretti was published in 1595. This sonnet sequence, according to the view of a good many critics, contains the story of Spenser's own courtship with Elizabeth Boyle whom he married on June 11, 1594. That romantic background seems to have endowed the series with a romantic ardor.

Amoretti, comprising eighty-nine sonnets, is supposed to represent Spenser's second courtship with Elizabeth Boyle. They relate the poet's wooing of a mistress, who first rebuffed him, then relented and returned his love and again turned against him. However, that courtship, after many repulses, was successfully terminated by the marriage of the pair. 

The theme of the sonnet series is the conventional one of Elizabethan sonnets. It traces a long and pure love suit, in which the poet, at first dejected by his lady's indifference, is finally enraptured by her favor to him and acceptance of his love.  Spenser's sonnet series may well be compared with Sidney's Astrophel and Stella. But the originality of his sonnets lies in the celebration of happy love. Spenser's sonnets are addressed to a maiden whom he loved and married at the end. But Astrophel and Stella contain sonnets that are addressed to a married lady and end in the separation of the lovers. The first series is of happy love, and the second, is of tragic separation, though both of them are based on the Petrarchan convention. Spenser is a master technician in sonnet writing. His grand imagery, wonderful melody, and metrical novelty are unique feats in the realm of English sonnets. Though a follower of Petrarch, the sonneteer in Spenser is no imitator and has displayed his originality, particularly in the structure of the sonnet. His sonnets are mostly formed of three quatrains, alternately rhymed, and a concluding couplet. Moreover, there is the rhyme of the last line of every quatrain with the first line of the succeeding quatrain to achieve an effective melody. But the number of rhymes in his sonnets is restricted, after the Petrarchan fashion, to five - a, b, c, d, and e. The structure of the Spenserian sonnet, as evident in his sonnets, is as follows - ab, bc, bc, cd, cd, ee.

Spenser's sonnet has enough grace and sweetness and possesses the rare melody of the great musician in him. In short, his sonnets remain simple, sincere, sensuous, and sonorous. Indeed, Spenser is a representative sonneteer of a great age of sonnet writing.


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