Wednesday, December 11, 2019

EPITHALIMIAN

Structure

Epithalamion follows a rhyme a scheme of ABABCC, DEDEFF, and so on (except the 15th stanza.). The structure is 24 stanzas, each with either 18 lines or 19 (15th stanza has 17 lines). The last stanza is an envoy(a short formal stanza which is appended to a poem by way of conclusion) with 7 lines. There are 433 lines in total.


Christian symbolism

While the Greek mythology is used to express Spenser's undying love and wishes, the symbols of Christianity are used to express his intimate feelings.

"How the red roses flush up in her cheekes, And the pure snow with goodly vermill stayne, Like crimsin dyde in grayne, That even th'Angels which continually, About the sacred Altare doe remaine, Forget their service and about her fly, Ofte peeping in her face that seemes more fayre,"

Spenser comments how Elizabeth is so beautiful to him that even the Angels would come down to Earth to look at her; and Elizabeth is so beautiful and perfect, she is the virgin to be sacrificed, for all to learn from.

"She commeth in, before th'almighties vew: Of her ye virgins learne obedience, When so ye come into those holy places, To humble your proud faces; Bring her up to th'high altar that she may, The sacred ceremonies there partake, The which do endlesse matrimony make,"

The virginity being taken is sacrificial, but not in the form of Elizabeth dying for a cause. Her virginity is being sacrificed, but for the sake of making a marriage. Elizabeth is walking up the aisle, and the almighties are watching on. She stands as a symbol at the altar, for all to admire and want to be.

The second to last stanza of the poem is Spenser envisioning heaven, as it is the end of time for him and Elizabeth.

"And ye high heavens, the temple of the gods, In which a thousand torches flaming bright... Poure out your blessing on us plentiously, With lasting happinesse... So let us rest, sweet love, in hope of this,"

The description of this idea of Heaven is filled with their desires and will bring lasting happiness. Spenser's Heaven is one where he and Elizabeth can live in peace and be rewarded for their lives.


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